College of Arts and Letters

JMU alum named deputy national press secretary


 
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Sawyer Hackett ('14) with Sen. Mark Warner at JMU Festival at a 2012 event.

SUMMARY: Sawyer Hackett ('14), a political science major, recently became deputy national press secretary to Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.


When you read about presidential candidates for the next year, a JMU grad may have written some of the info.

College of Arts and Letters alum Sawyer Hackett, a 2014 political science major, recently became deputy national press secretary to Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. Hackett served as special assistant to Castro during his service in the Obama cabinet, and also as assistant press secretary.

Hackett got an early taste of politics in fall 2012 as a junior when he interned for the Obama for America reelection campaign in Harrisonburg. As one of the field organizers in the Harrisonburg office, Hackett led a team of interns and volunteers who registered several thousand voters both on and off campus.

On Election Day 2012, the last presidential election before the Convo Precinct opened, Hackett worked with local Democratic Party officials to transport almost 1,500 JMU students to off-campus precincts.

Hackett said his choice of a political science major came naturally. "Although my political socialization came at a very early age, JMU's political science department afforded me the unique opportunity to contextualize, test, and defend many of the longstanding beliefs I had about the role of government," he said.

Hackett said the things he learned in the College of Arts and Letters weren’t just in the classroom. "In addition to the numerous lessons and career connections I was able to take with me, JMU encouraged me to extend my studies beyond the classroom–providing opportunities like Washington Semester that jumpstarted my career like no lesson plan could have."

Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, is the twin brother of Congressman Joaquin Castro. He is one of almost two dozen announced candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

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Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019

Last Updated: Saturday, January 2, 2021

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