“I don’t know how I could ever top this job,” Matt Palmisano, ’14, said.

Palmisano didn’t expect to wind up standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s most powerful leaders. But in his position as director of advance and trip coordinator for the Office of the First Lady, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

A normal day’s work could include traveling ahead of the first lady, Melania Trump, to scout her planned visits; organizing a motorcade for her and the president, overseeing her meetings and logistics; speaking to the press; and coordinating logistics with the first lady’s Secret Service detail.

I sometimes need to pinch myself.

For Palmisano, this variety in responsibility is ideal –– and it aligns with his former approach to education, too. From a young age, he knew he never wanted to limit his future to one or two concentrations. “I didn’t want to just be an English major or just a math major,” Palmisano said. “I loved the idea of mixing many things together.”

This appreciation for variety led him to both the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law program.

“My classes helped me consider the way people act and make decisions,” he said. “They challenged me to think in different ways.”

He finds that he puts these lessons into practice on a daily basis.

“I sometimes need to pinch myself when I’m standing at arm’s length from some of the most powerful world leaders,” Palmisano said. “And what I learned in Richmond’s classes helped me to be a better negotiator and a better representative for our first lady and country.”

Topping his current gig would be difficult, and he doesn’t plan on leaving the White House anytime soon anyway.

“It’s an awe-inspiring place to work,” he said. “To be able to serve the United States is something I’ll never take for granted.”