Alumni Spotlight: Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

November 28, 2023

November 28, 2023

By Jacie Sellars, Staff Writer

Ouachita teaches its students many lessons and inspires them to live a life of service and leadership. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ouachita alumna, has lived out these values through her career in politics. 

As the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders grew up in a political family. She served with many campaigns and as White House press secretary before becoming governor of Arkansas. Sanders has followed in her father’s footsteps as the second Ouachita alumni to become governor. She is the first female governor of Arkansas and the youngest governor in the country. 

At Ouachita, Sanders double-majored in communications and political science. Professor Emeritus Hal Bass remembers Sanders as a driven and dedicated student. 

“She was involved in the student senate throughout her college career, and she was president her senior year,” Bass said. “I saw back then that she clearly had strong leadership capacities.” 

Bass believes that the political science program at Ouachita equips students with important skills for any kind of career in politics. 

“Political science provides our majors an opportunity to improve their leadership skills,” Bass said. “You learn negotiation and resolving conflict.” 

A major in political science will help students, even if they are serving in a small-scale position. 

“You want to be a good citizen, even if you are just serving on your school board or in your church.” Bass said. “It’s important to be involved in civic life, and political science will serve you well.” 

Bass is proud that Sanders is one of the many Ouachita students who has gone on to work in a leadership position. “It’s very gratifying as a professor to see your students dedicate themselves to lives of public service,” Bass said.  

After college, Sanders worked in many leadership roles, served as a political advisor and was on the staff of several winning campaigns. Along with her political achievements, Sanders has been featured in the Fortune and TIME magazines’ “40 Under 40.” Her book, “Speaking for Myself,” was on the New York Times bestseller list. Sanders is also a wife and a proud mother to three children. 

At this year’s Stepping Up for Ouachita event on Nov. 17, Sanders spoke about how the school has impacted her life. 

“Going to Ouachita was the first time I stepped out of my parents’ house and all of the protection that came with that.” Sanders said. “It was a time I used to develop into my own person, to find my own voice and my own way. As a student at OBU, I found everything I needed to really grow.” 

Along with a wonderful education, Sanders believes that Ouachita helped teach her to develop meaningful relationships. These relationships prepared her for personal and professional success. 

“Ouachita is small, but it is special, and it helped me grow into the person that God called me to be,” Sanders said. “The friend, the wife, the mom and the governor of our state.” 

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