It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Page Austin when she heard former First Lady Laura Bush praising her in front of her family. The year was 2003, and Page, who was 22, was working as a staff assistant for Mrs. Bush and was with her on an official trip after Hurricane Katrina.
Mrs. Bush gushed over her assistant. “I am so thankful for your daughter. Page does an amazing job and is serving the American people well. You should be very proud of her.”
Naturally, Page was blushing. “I traveled to the Gulf Coast with her many times as my family is from there. On one of the first trips, Mrs. Bush called me to make sure my family was at the event because she wanted to talk to them. I said no…haha. I am a staff person. She insisted, though,” Page said. “So when we arrived at the event, Mrs. Bush made her way around the venue meeting people, and then when we came to my family, she shook their hands.”
As the Lifestyle Manager in Harvest, Page Austin is a proud American who worked at The White House for five glorious years at the beginning of her career. She joined the First Lady’s office as an assistant for projects and policy and was later promoted to Deputy Associate Director.
“I worked with a guy whose wife worked at the U.S. Department of Education. She was contacted by the First Lady’s office asking if she knew of anyone who would want to work in her office. She sent over my resume, and I was called for an interview,” Page shared.
Before that, she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy as a Presidential Schedule C Appointee.
Austin was ambitious and hardworking since her college days. She went to Mississippi State University and majored in political science. She was actively involved in student government, college Republicans, and a government organization called the Stennis Montgomery Institute.
“I worked on tons of political campaigns. In 2000, I was offered an internship in the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s office. So summer of 2000, I was in Washington DC. I worked hard and made great contacts,” she mentioned. “Sen. Lott’s Chief of Staff got me a job on the Bush campaign in Mississippi. After Bush won the election, Lott’s COS got me an internship in Karl Rove’s office. I was an intern in political affairs at the White House for the Fall of 2001.”
As an intern, Page witnessed the historical tragedy of 9/11, which she never forgets! That day, she reached The White House at around 6 a.m. and was busy doing her work when they all were asked to evacuate the building right after the World Trade Center was attacked.
“As we were grabbing our bags, we felt a powerful jolt. All I could think was that the White House had been hit. We ran out to the balcony of the Old Executive Office Building and saw the billowing smoke rising from the Pentagon. I couldn’t believe we felt that!” Page shared in an article she wrote in 2015.
When she graduated from college in 2002, she went back to D.C. The moments of her very first day in The White House are still just as fresh. She was amazed, excited, and nervous and couldn’t believe she was working in the East Wing of the presidential palace.
“I love history, and it was just surreal that I was in the place where John Adams and Lincoln walked,” she said. “There is no on-boarding or training. You are just pushed in the deep end and are expected to swim,” she recalled about those days.
However, she learned things quickly, worked hard, and impressed the team. She got promoted after a year. As the Deputy Associate Director, she took charge of the women’s empowerment, women’s health, Gulf Coast recovery, and reading initiatives. She also supported everything else that she could. She also managed the staff assistant and office interns.
“I worked from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. Sometimes we pulled all-nighters, especially if we were planning for international travel,” Page remembers. “I worked weekends as well. It was nonstop.”
Page got to travel with the First Lady all over the world and closely observed how amazing Laura Bush is!
“She is kind, thoughtful, and introverted. She would rather read about something than talk about it, and she’s very neat and organized,” she says of this former First Lady.
Page was one of the longest-serving staff members for Mrs. Bush.
As one of the best times of her life, Page has cherished how she evolved and grew as a person during those four years in The White House. She silently learned from Mrs. Bush to be kind to all people, make them comfortable, and welcome them no matter who they are or where they are from. To expand your mind through reading is also one of the things Page learned while being with Mrs. Bush.
Working as Lifestyle Manager in Harvest for a little over six years now, Page has changed the face of the community.
“I love people, and I love creating a culture where people can belong and do life together,” she says.
For her great works, she has been honored many times.
“I won the gold award at Nationals in Las Vegas last January. It’s so great to be recognized for a job well done, and it inspires me to keep dreaming and creating!” she said.
Her calendar of events is power-packed all the time. She’s a people person and is in the job she’s destined to be. As she keeps doing great things in life, Page has a message for everyone.
“That this life is short. Don’t waste your life being sad, angry, or disappointed. Embrace each day as a gift. Love others even if you disagree with them. Live each day on purpose!”
photos courtesy of Page Austin