State of Pennsylvania, 46th District
CLASS OF 2000
Jesse White, who drove past Washington & Jefferson College countless times as a boy growing up in Washington County, never could have fathomed the impact the College would one day have on his life and career. Today, as an ambitious young politician and lawyer, he has no doubt that W&J is the driving force behind his success. “Without question, W&J is where I started to learn how the world really works, and what kind of person I need to be in order to be effective,” he says.
As a student at W&J, White was deeply involved with the college radio station when it was, as he remembers, “nothing more than some barely functioning equipment in the basement of the Old Gym.” He sketched the design for what is now the WNJR studio on a piece of notebook paper, working with the College to revive a state-of-the-art radio facility. White also appreciated the opportunity to serve as president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, where he got his “first real-life taste of keeping a constituency happy and navigating the political waters” of an organization.
It was during his final year of law school at Duquesne University when White found his calling in government service. Appointed as a supervisor in his hometown of Cecil Township, his career path became clear. “Those feelings of uncertainty about my future quickly changed to excitement when I thought about what I could accomplish in government if I worked hard enough,” he recalls.
White epitomizes the value of hard work as a state representative, taking his role as “a voice for the people” to heart. Whether that means standing up to a local municipal authority, bringing public water to homes with antiquated wells, or advocating for new jobs in the region, he never forgets his responsibility to his voters.
White, who also runs his own private law practice, advises students seeking a career in politics to become active in a campaign or government office. “Most importantly, don’t let temporary failure stand in the way of long-term success,” he adds. “I lost my first campaign in 2004 before I won in 2006, and I learned much more from that defeat than I have from all of my victories combined.”