By Anna Allen, ’16
During his time at Richmond, Daniel Fairley kept himself very busy academically, with a major in psychology and minors in criminal justice and Arabic studies. He spent two summers conducting research and a third summer studying abroad in Jordan, and served as a general manager of the Peer Advising Mentors program. But it was his time as head cultural advisor for Common Ground that Fairley views as life-changing.
“They have helped me to think of the world in a more inclusive way,” he says. “The Office of Common Ground is one of the most dynamic and influential offices on campus. They create inclusive programs that build up our community and make it possible for everyone to get the most out of their college experience.” It was this experience that helped Fairley to realize the importance of creating and participating in a community. And although he wasn’t sure what his post-Richmond path would be, he knew he wanted to find a way to continue to promote ideas of inclusivity and community-building.
While representing the Peer Advising Mentor (PAM) program at a leadership conference, Fairley learned about opportunities available through the White House Internship Program. The chance to work at the White House immediately sparked his interest, and it wasn’t long after graduation that he journeyed two hours north to begin work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“This internship is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he says. Fairley was assigned to the Operations Office, where he uses the time management and organizational skills he developed at Richmond as he and his colleagues work to prioritize each day’s most important tasks and how those can be completed efficiently.
He has also seen the value of working collaboratively and contributing to a community. “Everyone in the Operations Office, and in the White House as a whole, are all working toward forwarding the administration and making sure that the President is supported,” he says. “It is nice to be a part of this community and to see how helpful everyone is. They truly make sure that the interns have the most valuable and enriched experience possible.”
Fairley views work with Common Ground at Richmond and his time at the White House as stepping stones down his future career path. He will soon begin graduate work toward his masters of education with a concentration in higher education administration, with hopes of working in student development or student affairs to promote community among new generations of college students. “My experience with Common Ground has allowed me to see how student development and inclusivity within a campus can truly shape a person’s college experience.”