By Jessica Cuevas
The Bush School of Government and Public Service was founded in 1997 by the 41st president, President George H.W. Bush, making this year the 25th anniversary of the school’s establishment. To celebrate, the School presented a series of programs about President Bush and public service, and one of those featured Jean Becker, Chief of Staff for President G.H.W. Bush during his post-presidency years. Not wanting to miss Ms. Becker, some LEAP Ambassadors and LEAP alum Victoria McClendon-Leggett headed to the Bush School.
Jean Becker knows the topic well. She served as Barbara Bush’s Deputy Press Secretary during the White House years (1989-1993) and President Bush’s Chief of Staff from 1994-2019. She wrote the book “The Man I Knew,” which covers her experiences working with President H.W. Bush, sharing several of her favorite stories and memories of him.
She covered the ten life lessons that Bush provided to her, which included the statement, “A successful life must include serving others.”
This, of course, resonated with the SHSU group, because it is similar to the SHSU Motto, which is “The Measure of a Life is its Service.”
As she read off all ten, the mood in the room became a bit more somber, with some even shedding a few tears. The three lessons that most stuck with me were: (1) “Do not be afraid to change your mind,” (2) “Do not be afraid to say you were wrong,” and (3) “Live life with joy.”
Ms. Becker offered a great talk, and she was rewarded with a standing ovation at the end. I have been fortunate to hear her speak a couple of times before, but I somehow never had her sign my book, so I asked that she do so.
She graciously agreed, and was happy to see our SHSU delegation, which she has seen before!
We continued our trip down memory lane of President George H.W. Bush’s presidency by touring his presidential library, which was smaller and a bit more intimate than President Truman’s.
Bush’s career was so long and rich in experiences, it was fascinating to follow. We learned about his service in WWII…
…his career in Congress, his service as Director of the CIA…
…and, of course, his tenure as Vice-President and President. One of the momentous events of his Presidency was the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War.
Even less global concerns were interesting. I learned that the same person who designed the family car that he bought also designed Marine One, which I thought was a cool fact.
And we had a chance to see Bush’s baseball glove from college–when he played 1B at Yale and was Captain of the team.
I then had both the opportunity to sit down and hear some words of wisdom from President Bush…
…or at least that’s how I imagined it, as well as sit in the replica of his Oval office, and so did Ashlyn!
During her speech, Ms. Becker spoke on the impact that First Lady Barbara Bush had on her. She even read off an excerpt from the book she wrote, Pearls of Wisdom, sharing Mrs. Bush’s words with everyone. In case you are wondering why the book is titled as it is, it is because Mrs. Bush always wore pearls; it was her signature. She even had a section dedicated to her in the Bush Presidential Library that walked us through her impacts as First Lady.
Unfortunately, we were not able to see the train that transported President H.W. Bush to College Station since it was covered up and potentially undergoing restoration. Although they did have a small replica of the front cabin near the beginning of the Presidential Library. This did not stop us from touring the grounds, since it was Ashlyn’s first time at the Bush School and the Bush Family graves.
As we were leaving, one of the staff from the gift shop informed us that Sully, Bush’s service dog, was inside the presidential library gift shop.
Without thinking twice, all three of us went back through the doors and security to see Sully, we were beyond happy when we were allowed to take a picture with him.
It is not every day that we get to see a presidential dog, much less capture the moment. I was very thrilled to have been able to visit my second presidential library, get a stamp on my presidential library passport, and see Sully.