Grad Returns to Share White House Adventures

Encourages Peers to Find Passion

Taylor Gehrcke meets junior Marshall Kilgore

Taylor Gehrcke remembers daydreaming when he was a high school student about where he would like to serve as an intern. The White House was at the top of his list.

After a lot of hard work, his quest to work in the nation’s capitol became a reality. On Jan. 8, he will finish a four-month internship spent preparing event venues for Vice President Joe Biden and completing administrative duties. The 2011 Comstock Park grad will continue to work for the Obama Administration as an associate and hopes to one day work as an ambassador for the United Nations.

“I’m so glad it has come full circle,” he told Comstock Park government students while in town to visit his family and to graduate from Central Michigan University, with a major in political science and minors in leadership and cultural and global studies.

He shared the story of his journey from high school to CMU to the White House, encouraging students to chase their goals, no matter what they are.

“Here and now, you might not have an issue you are passionate about,” Gehrcke said. “Find that issue, stick with it and drive it until you succeed in life.”

Gehrke said he planned to become an architect, but his career goals changed after he became more involved in social and political issues. He became passionate about global responsibility and the need for equality.

Taylor Gehrcke, 2011 Comstock Park graduate, is completing an internship at the White House
Taylor Gehrcke, 2011 Comstock Park graduate, is completing an internship at the White House

Involvement Leads to Opportunities

While still in high school, Gehrcke attended the American Legion’s Boys State event, during which young men participate in simulated a congressional session, and served on Student Council. At CMU, he served as president of the College Democrats of America. He participated in Model United Nations, and became a multicultural advisor. He also stepped off campus to serve as first vice chair on the Isabella County Democratic Board and as executive secretary and programs coordinator for the Michigan Federation of College Democrats.

As a testament to his passion for justice, he even skipped the first week of classes his freshman year to join striking CMU teachers.

“I was very involved, and I took my extracurricular activities very seriously,” he said ” Because of my extracurriculars, I believe I was accepted into the internship program.”

Taylor said he’s met politicians including President Obama, Biden, several legislators and his personal favorite, first lady Michelle Obama, while in Washington, D.C. He helped plan logistics of Biden’s public events, and was present for emotional moments, such as when Biden announced his decision not to run for president.

Comstock Park students asked Gehrcke about the political climate in Washington D.C. and his feeling on current events including the 2016 presidential election. While sharing his views, he stressed that students need to take time to develop their own informed opinions. “Try not to have this division between left and right, Democrats and Republicans,” he told them. “That’s what we see in Washington, and look how well that’s working.”

Taylor Gehrcke was selected from among thousands of applicants to serve as a White House intern
Taylor Gehrcke was selected from among thousands of applicants to serve as a White House intern

He cautioned students to look past fear-mongering. “We’re going to see a lot of fear driven from both sides in this upcoming election. Avoid fear; see through it. Do your research. Register to vote.”

Junior Marshall Kilgore said Gehrcke shows students they “can do anything,” and said Gehrcke is a real-life example of student leadership.

“It’s crazy that I have someone I used to sit next to on the bus be so close to Barack Obama,” he said.

Principal Steve Gough said people tend to put limits on themselves.

“We say there are things I can’t do and things I can do… All of you are beginning your adult lives,” he told students. “You can do whatever you want to, whatever you choose to do, from this day forward. You just have to do the work required to do whatever you decide you want to do.”

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The White House Internship Program

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2012. Read Erin's full bio

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