How I Became a White House Fellow

How I Became a White House Fellow

Nicole Malachowski |

One of the most memorable assignments of my career was when I served as a White House Fellow (WHF). The story of how this came about goes to show how life is full of serendipitous encounters. At an airshow as a Thunderbird pilot, I met a man by the name of John Borling. He was a retired Major General, a fighter pilot, and a hero of Vietnam, enduring time as a POW. I’ve no idea why he gravitated toward me, but we shared a few coffee chats. Having served as a WHF himself, he suggested I’d be a good fit for this elite program. I smiled, thinking he was just being polite.

After I returned home, I was shocked when he called me to chat again about the WHF. I’d done some research, and I proceeded to tell him I wasn’t really qualified and didn’t have a shot. As politely as I could, I said it wasn’t in the cards for me. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and, in the most endearing way, basically told me I would be applying. Again, I demurred, not wanting to offend such a patriot. He called the following week, and the next, until I finally capitulated.

After an intense application process and rounds of interviews, I was selected to be a Fellow. This would be one of the most pivotal experiences of my lifetime.

The moral of the story? Believe those who believe in you.

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