“One of the greatest callings in life is a career in public service,” said alumnus Zach Michael. “That is something my grandfather taught when he ran for office over 20 years ago.” At the age of eight, Michael had an early introduction to politics when his grandfather ran for office in Cheraw, South Carolina.
His grandfather’s political stint piqued his own interest, and soon Michael found himself following in his grandfather’s footsteps. Throughout college, he spent two years as Chief Justice Roy Moore’s spokesperson and personal aide, conducting interviews with networks like ABC News and CNN. “Working for a legal and constitutional scholar like Judge Moore, I learned much about his experience as ‘America’s Ten Commandments Judge’ and his zeal to stand up for religious liberty,” Michael said.
Michael also quickly learned that politics is not about power or prestige. He saw the opposite—long hours, thankless tasks, and seemingly endless meetings. Still, he wanted to be part of something greater than himself, something that mattered. “Policy influences every aspect of our lives: what we eat, the medications we take, the cars we drive, the roads we take, the things we buy, and so on,” he said. “Why not be a part of the process?”
My prayer is to live a life of service and to help others. Politics is the arena in which I can do that.
While earning his degree in interdisciplinary studies with a cognate in history at PCC, Michael remained heavily involved in politics. By the time he graduated in 2015, he had already worked nearly two dozen political campaigns, including those of Florida Governor Rick Scott, several congressmen, and state-elected officials. “PCC’s high academic standards instilled persistence in me,” he said. “No matter what was taught or what class I took, there was always a spiritual application or take-away. This has profoundly influenced my decision-making process throughout my career.”
Following his graduation, Michael spent over a year working as the principal aide and advisor to Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. Then he started working as a Florida regional director, campaigning for the Republican presidential nominee.
Once Donald J. Trump was elected president, Michael accepted the position of National Mall Lead with the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee in Washington. “As an event coordinator, I was charged with all public events along the national mall on inauguration day,” he said. “Those duties included organizing and managing volunteers, coordinating and delegating job duties, and establishing and implementing a plan for inaugural day activities.”
In Washington one can easily be influenced, so it is incredibly important to stay focused in the mission and to be a positive example.
Most recently, the Trump administration appointed Michael to the position Deputy Director of Speechwriting in the Office of the Secretary within the Department of Commerce. He wrote the first speech given by anyone in the Trump administration on the continent of Africa. “Having traveled to Africa on four occasions through mission work, I have a close connection with the continent. The U.S. is looking to expand exports to Africa within the next couple of years, and it was neat to play a small role in that policy position.”
Only a small number of the some 1,000 appointees are asked to help advance domestic and international travel for President Trump and Vice President Pence. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of that program on several occasions,” Michael said.
For Michael, the most rewarding aspect of working in politics is “helping others reach their God-given potential.”
I am often reminded of the quote, ‘Leadership is made for service.’ In order to be an effective leader, one must be willing to serve.