If Rachel Robin has her way, some January, as the president gives the State of the Union speech, it will be Robin’s words coming from the president’s mouth. A recent graduate of the University of Maryland College Park with degrees in government and politics and communication, Robin, 22, became interested in speechwriting in high school. She hopes to work on Capitol Hill.
Robin, who lives in Germantown, is a member of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac.
How did you fall in love with speechwriting?
I watched “The West Wing” when I was in 9th or 10th grade. I saw Toby Ziegler and Sam Seaborn, who are both characters on “The West Wing,” and I was like, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ And I’ve been set on that ever since.
Do you do any public speaking yourself?
I did competitive debate for eight years. I just graduated college, so I no longer do that, but I enjoy public speaking as well as writing.
Are there any subjects you especially enjoy debating or writing about?
I’m passionate about education and healthcare. So I’d like to get into working in policy related to those issues, particularly relating to equity in education and equity in healthcare. But as far as debating goes, I am pretty much open to debate any topic.
Have you written speeches for any persons of interest in the past?
I have written talking points for the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools when I worked for the Maryland State Department of Education, but other than that, I’m eager to get started working in the speech writing field.
Why did you decide you wanted to write a State of the Union?
I decided to shoot for the moon. And [the State of the Union] is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of speechwriting and expression. It’s meant to unite the country behind not just one individual or one set of policies, but around one set of fundamental ideas about democracy and freedom of expression.
Do you have a favorite State of the Union address?
I think that the State of the Union speeches over the past eight years have been kind of lacking. They’re just a little formulaic in my opinion, but I do think that Obama’s second State of the Union address was a good one. I think that was the one where he was talking a lot about healthcare.
Which non-fictional speechwriters inspire you?
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Sarah Hurwitz, but she was a speechwriter for Obama and she is also Jewish. She wrote a book about her life. I got the opportunity to speak to her a little while ago, and to pick her brain about the industry and how she came to be in the profession. I think she’s definitely been inspirational to me.
How does your Jewish identity influence the work you do?
I think that asking questions and debating is a critical aspect of Judaism, from when Abraham was asking God how many people there had to be in the town for God to save the community. I think that seeking to understand both sides of an argument is a critical Jewish value. And not just one that I’ve learned in my secular studies, but one that’s been emphasized to me throughout my time in Hebrew school as well.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I played the cello in the University of Maryland’s university orchestra, and I still like to play the cello in my free time. And I also do a lot of art projects. I like to paint, I embroider,