Eastern Michigan University Honors alumna recognized as a "top staffer to watch" on congressional hill

Alexa Cooley in a government building with a flag and marble pillars in the background.

YPSILANTI — EMU graduate Alexa Cooley (2020) was named one of the "Top 10 House Staffers to Watch in 2024" on Medium.com. Cooley double majored in political science and communication. She graduated with Honors in 2020 and represented her class as a virtual graduation speaker during the pandemic.

As a student at EMU, Cooley received a travel grant from the Honors College that funded a trip to D.C. so that she could conduct interviews with congressional staffers and communication directors for her senior thesis project. 

“I was very thankful that the Honors College and Department of Political Science helped fund multiple trips to D.C., as [those trips] allowed me to dig deeper into my honors thesis, which involved interviewing Congressional staffers firsthand,” said Cooley. “My freshman year was the first time I had ever stepped foot in D.C. and I quickly decided that working in Congress was what I was going to do.”

Political Science professor and director of the Faculty Development Center Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein went on multiple trips to D.C. with Cooley and was one of her senior thesis project advisors, along with Jonathan Carter, professor of communication. 

“Alexa was a mentee of mine," Bernstein said. "I advised her senior thesis and she was a student in numerous classes (including travel classes) and a co-author on a paper we were slated to present at a conference before COVID. She was a dedicated and driven student, highly engaged in the material, and with a clear goal of finding her way into the political world. I could tell, almost immediately, that she was destined to go places politically. Alexa's success is wonderful news for all of us who worked with her over her years at EMU.”

After graduating from EMU in the winter of 2020, Cooley moved to Washington D.C.—despite the pandemic. She began working as a staff assistant for Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. In July 2022, Cooley moved to a position as a press assistant with the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC). 

“I started working under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and our DPCC Co-Chairs, and now I work with Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and our Chair Joe Neguse and Co-Chairs,” said Cooley. “The main highlight of my career so far has been having a front-row seat to history. The 118th Congress has been a whirlwind and I’ve been able to watch everything unfold firsthand. I never experience the same day twice and I’m always doing something interesting—whether that be helping organize media events or drafting materials for House Democrats.”

Life after graduation has been a success for Cooley, and she appreciates the experiences and opportunities that EMU provided. “I am a proud EMU alumna. I am so grateful for the tremendous support that I received and would not be where I am today without EMU and the Honors College.”

To learn more about Cooley’s accomplishments visit the story on Medium


About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

February 07, 2024

Written by:
Brooke Whittaker

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher