Westmont Magazine Face-to-Face with the First Family
When Lilian Lawrence ’02 leaves work, she can walk through the White House residence, the West Wing or the northwest gate closest to the press pool.
Six months after graduating from Westmont with a double major in philosophy and political science, Lilian moved to Washington, D.C., where connections from a former White House internship helped her get a job in the White House Medical Unit (WHMU).
The medical unit provides worldwide emergency action response and comprehensive medical care to the White House staff, the president, the vice president and their families. WHMU also provides emergency coverage for more than 1.5 million annual visitors, including guests of the president, heads of state and international diplomats.
Lilian is one of two civilians who work in the unit, which is part of the military Office of the White House. The staff there has provided medical care for every president since George Washington.
As an assistant to all the physicians, nurses and administrators, Lilian finds that her tasks change constantly, especially when the president travels. Her duties include providing administrative support to the president’s physician, the vice president’s care team and the cabinet physician. She serves as the glue that binds the different teams together.
She also works with the U. S. Secret Service when the medical staff travel as well as with the Oval Office staff, the White House Visitor’s Center, and other offices that directly support the president and his staff.
Exciting events take place daily. Someone from Air Force One calls. The staff must greet the surgeon general of the Army and other high-ranking individuals. The president or first lady visits the office.
“Mrs. Bush came by the other day to say ‘Hi,’” Lilian notes. “I would use three adjectives to describe her: poised, elegant and extremely genuine. The president is very funny. He has a great sense of humor — much of which the public doesn’t see.
“I have enjoyed my experience so far, and I love the fact that I work for the president and the first lady in such a unique fashion,” Lilian adds. “It was by the grace of God that I was hired for this job. It will be very exciting to see what other amazing things I will see and experience the longer I am here in Washington, D.C.”
Lilian is considering a career in the CIA. The experience she has gained through the position at the WHMU will help her with this ambition. Her Westmont internship and her current job are proving to be great stepping stones on the path to achieving her long-term career goals.