Early Saturday morning, I received a message from FFL’s Founder, Amanda. She asked if I was free to attend an event in my area in Wilmington, NC. She said she couldn’t share a ton of details, but promised it was a big deal. I quickly replied “yes!” Soon after, Amanda followed up with the time and location to the event. I was excited to attend the event, because I recently watched reports about Ivanka’s fireside chat in Pennsylvania not long ago and hoped it was the fireside chat taking place in Wilmington on Monday. 

The day of the event, I woke up early, so I could arrive at the event early. I was so excited that I left without coffee, and did not pass a coffee shop along the way. Desperate for any type of coffee, I found a fast food restaurant that serves coffee—it was less than spectacular, but it couldn’t break my excitement. I arrived in Wilmington a few minutes early, and met with Amanda and Caroline, the Deputy Cabinet Advisor at FFL, a little bit early in order to walk by the water. We caught up and talked about our work at Future Female Leaders. After a few minutes, Amanda mentioned that we would be meeting someone from Ivanka Trump’s team a few minutes before the event. Amanda had worked with her previously and wanted to catch up with her as well as introduce me. My excitement was instantly heightened. I did not know that I would be able to meet with someone from Ivanka’s team; I was already excited to be able to attend the event. At this point, my lack of coffee was long forgotten. My adrenaline was sky high. 

After Secret Service searched us, the member of Ivanka’s team led us into a small and adorable cottage. We talked with each other, and I was able to hear her speak about her favorite travels with Ivanka. She mentioned how phenomenal the Taj Mahal was, and she even showed us pictures. Plus, they brought us coffee — thank goodness! Between the wonderful stories, and fantastic conversation, and hot coffee, I felt extremely blessed. Then, Ivanka’s team member excused herself for a moment, and left the cottage. My day was about to get so much better, and I had absolutely no idea. 

From my seat, I looked out the window and watched a large SUV pull up to the front of the cottage.

At that point, my heart raced. I was not sure what was about to happen, but I felt like it was something big. 

People with cameras suddenly rushed into the room.

Then, all of sudden, Ivanka Trump walked into the room.

I couldn’t believe she was standing right in front of me. I was taken aback, and I believe I said “oh my gosh!” repeatedly. After introductions were made, Ivanka sat and poured herself a cup of coffee. She spoke with Amanda about what Future Female Leaders, as an organization, does. Amanda shared the story of how FFL was created and has grown to a community, where conservative young women can discuss anything from politics to lifestyle as well as place of encouragement and support. Then, Ivanka turned to me and asked how I fit into the FFL team. I mentioned to her that I am a current cabinet member, and became an ambassador for FFL because I was longing for a community of conservative women and wanted to be a resource for other young conservative women. 

Ivanka asked questions about where I attended school, and what my hopes and dreams were. I explained that I am currently in law school. My hopes and dreams revolves around advocating citizens of North Carolina in any capacity.  Ivanka Trump, the child of President Trump and Senior Advisor, asked me what policy issues that I find most interesting. I never thought someone would ask me about my thoughts on policy, nonetheless, Ivanka Trump.

I still do not know how I managed to do explain my thoughts, but I did. I mentioned my primary interest in policy was grounded in two topics: education and agriculture. Both industries are huge aspects of North Carolina. I explained that agriculture is a large industry in the eastern part of North Carolina and makes up a large portion of economic revenue in North Carolina. I also mentioned how much I liked the “Farmers to Families” food box program. Next, we talked about education. I explained that education is a special part of my life, and I enjoy education policy. I further explained that I think technical and vocational programs need to be expanded at the high school and community college level; also school choice should be available. Ivanka mentioned that we have a lot of commonality in our thoughts on school choice. Then, Ivanka asked if I had anything else I wanted to ask or say. I took advantage of the opportunity, and I asked “how do you handle your job with being a mom?” And she gave a wonderful answer. She shared that she gives herself grace, and reflects on her time. She is okay with days where she falters, but makes sure that those days are not long lasting. Ivanka explains that she takes the time to reflect, and keeps her priorities in perspective. At that point, it was close for the event to begin, and Ivanka asked if we would attend the event. I stood up, could barely feel my feet, and I could hear the blood rushing to my ears. I had to keep telling myself just what happened: I just sat down with a senior advisor to the President of the USA, and told her my thoughts on policy. I never would have thought I would ever get the chance to meet someone from the White House, let alone Ivanka Trump. Beyond that, I never thought she would ask what areas of policy I found most interesting. This is easily one of the best events of my life. I was able to talk to someone at the national level about my thoughts on what I thought was important. It was a dream come true. 

We said snapped a few photos, said our goodbyes, and expressed our gratitude to Ivanka and her team. Then, we headed across the street to the main event and were led to seats in front of the stage. While we were waiting for the event to begin,  I met a wonderful North Carolina House Representative and talked with her how bipartisanship and teamwork is a large part of creating legislation. She expressed that many times, the best legislators are able to reach across party lines in order to create meaningful legislation. Once the event began, Ivanka Trump spoke about the accomplishments of her father. She recounted the president’s improvement of employment rates, positive effects of deregulation, and increased career and technical programs across the country. 

The overall experience was a huge surprise and absolutely pivotal in my life. I never thought I would be able to sit down and explain my opinions to a member of the White House. Ivanka Trump and her team were nice, caring, and polite. Speaking with her and from my experience, I know first hand that Ivanka truly cares about the country, its industries, and the people—especially women—that make up our nation. I cannot thank Ivanka Trump, her team, and Future Female Leaders for giving me this incredible opportunity.

Thank you Ivanka Trump for all you do for our country and for women worldwide.

Jill C