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The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

Cassidy Hutchinson makes her return to campus

“It’s never too late to do the right thing”
Cassidy Hutchinson speaking at the PLP event with host, CNU Professor William Mims, photo by Chloe Grell

Before Cassidy Hutchinson made her mark in Washington D.C. and the country, she was just another Christopher Newport University (CNU) student with immense goals and aspirations. 

Former assistant to Mark Meadows under President Donald Trump’s administration, Hutchinson is famous for testifying against the former president during the Jan. 6 Capitol Raid trials. She had spent her college summers interning on Capitol Hill under U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and House of Representatives whip Steve Scalise.

Last week, Hutchinson was invited back to campus to lead the President’s Leadership Program (PLP) Speaker Event. These events are for strong and impactful leaders to inspire the students of CNU. The event on Apr. 3 had a packed house, with all members of the CNU community invited. 

In a private interview with The Captain’s Log, following the Speaker Event, Hutchinson spoke about her experiences at CNU and how they shaped her into who she is today. She began by reflecting on the first meeting with her core advisor, Dr. John Camobreco, following Welcome Week in the fall of 2015.

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 “I knew that I wanted to study political science,” Hutchinson said. She was conflicted with her choice because she was raised in a home where politics and public service were never the topic of conversation. 

While speaking with Camobreco, Hutchinson said she “talked and talked” about studying political science. 

“He just was looking at me with so much intent, and I could tell he was really listening,” said Hutchinson. “And then he leaned back in his chair and he was like, ‘that all sounds great.’” 

“It was a really profound moment for me. It was the beginning of my education,” she said, recalling how Camobreco had helped her lay out a four-year plan.

“I think it not only gave me the courage to actually pursue the degrees that I did, but I felt empowered by him and he remained one of my closest advisors throughout my education, and he’s somebody that I’ll always be really grateful for,” Hutchinson said, thinking back to that moment with Camobreco.

While at CNU, although not heavily involved on campus, Hutchinson still stayed busy substituting at St. Andrews Episcopal School and nannying two families. 

“For me, I went into college as kind of a means to an end and I knew that I had to work a lot in order to be able to stay here,” she said.

“ I had to survive and I had to make money,” Hutchinson added. “Not only to live and start paying my bills but because I knew I wanted to intern in D.C. during the summer.” 

If she could go back in time and had the time to do so, Hutchinson said she would be more involved in the campus community.

Hutchinson reflected on her classes at CNU and how they developed the foundation for her career. 

“What I really appreciated about my education here that I think helped at the White House, but also helped a lot more in my post-White House period, was my ability to think critically,” she said.

 Hutchinson said that she lost sight of those skills during her time at the White House as she became more loyal to Trump and Meadows.

“Being able to look back on my tenure at Christopher Newport and reflect on the person that I had felt myself becoming [under the Trump Administration], the influences – not only from professors but from the students who could engage in civil public discourse – were really foundational for me in this journey,” she said. 

Hutchinson recalled three particular professors, Camobreco, Dr. Michelle Barnello, and Dr. Andrew Kirkpatrick, who she credits with having a “profound impact” on her as both a student and a person. 

 She explained that those three professors had reached out to her after she testified to check in on her. 

“They were thoughtful and they were making sure I was okay, and that speaks to their character and it speaks to what we stand for as Captains,” she said.

Camobreco, Barnello, and Kirkpatrick reflected on their experience with Hutchinson while she was a student at CNU. 

My enduring memory of Cassidy is that she was a very serious student,” Camobreco wrote in an email to The Captain’s Log.

Hutchinson was serious about school, said Camobreco, and serious about “doing everything she could to find herself a career in politics.” He recalls Hutchinson’s “strong political convictions,” but that she was never hostile to those who thought differently. 

Barnello got to know Hutchinson through the classes she taught, Barnello wrote in an email to The Captain’s Log. 

“Outside of the classroom we bonded over our love of politics, particularly women and politics, and our shared upbringing in the Northeast,” Barnello said. 

After Hutchinson’s return to campus, following her summer internship at the White House, Barnello recalled that Hutchinson’s “desire to make a positive difference in politics was clear.” Barnello said that she is proud to know Hutchinson and is “forever grateful for her courage to do the right thing.” 

Kirkpatrick mentioned Hutchinson’s three D.C. internships which is “nearly unheard of, and a real testimony to the type of student she was.” He said that Hutchinson was a “real credit to CNU,” and that he is “glad that we can call her a Captain.”

The recent speaker event at CNU marked the first time that Hutchinson had returned to campus since her graduation in 2019. Hutchinson said that she didn’t know when she would return to campus, just that she knew it would happen at some point. 

“Never in a million years did I think I would have the honor of being able to come back and even just talk to a classroom full of students…but then to be so warmly welcomed by all the faculty and to speak at the theater here with so many people…it sounds cheesy, but it’s truly one of the greatest honors of my life,” Hutchinson said. 

This gave Hutchinson hope and is helping her move forward during this period of her life.

 “There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s rooms full of people like you all because you all care,” she said.

Hutchinson offered a lasting note for the students preparing to graduate soon.

 “Be curious and always expose yourself to different ideas, even if you disagree with them,” she said. “Because sometimes, those ideas are actually what helps you grow the most as an individual and that’s something that I had lost sight of.”

Hutchinson expressed that the hard decision is often the right decision in any field or industry. 

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” She said.

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