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Alumna Alejandra Ceja ’96, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, will deliver the Commencement address for Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Los Angeles, at 3 p.m., May 11, at historic Shrine Auditorium.

Alum, White House appointee to speak at Commencement 2015

From the Mount to the White House…and back again.

Alejandra Ceja ’96, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, will deliver the Commencement address for Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Los Angeles, at 3 p.m., May 11, at historic Shrine Auditorium.

Ceja was appointed to her current position by the White House in May 2013, to serve U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The leadership position enables her to influence policy and promote educational efforts at the national level.

Ceja has spent most of her career working in the nation’s capital. She earned her first position in Washington, D.C., working in the White House Office of Management and Budget, less than three years after earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Mount Saint Mary’s. Ceja has said that her degree from the Mount was a springboard to internships in Washington, D.C., and to jobs within the White House, U.S. Congress and the Department of Education. 

During her time in the nation’s capital, Ceja has served as the chief of staff to Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, and in that role, was instrumental in managing the under secretary’s personnel and budget operations, including six White House initiatives. 

She previously served as the senior budget and appropriations advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor, chaired by U.S. Rep. George Miller. And from 1999 to 2007, Ceja was a program examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget, where she helped formulate the federal budget for the Department of Labor and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

While at Mount Saint Mary’s, Ceja was a Student Ambassador, president of Latinas Unidas and an AmeriCorps participant. She also participated in the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) through the Women’s Leadership Program. She graduated from the Mount in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. 

This spring, Ceja was also named a Marshall Fellow, awarded by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The highly competitive and prestigious program immerses emerging leaders in training and discussions related to transatlantic policy and diplomacy.

Read more about Ceja's time at the Mount, and her career in D.C., in our Mount Magazine profile from 2013 .

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