Trump Names SMU Alumna Hope Hicks Interim Communications Director

Hope Hicks (right) watches the House of Representatives' final vote on the American Healthcare Act in March 2017.
Hope Hicks (right) watches the House of Representatives' final vote on the American Healthcare Act in March 2017.
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The White House announced Wednesday that Hope Hicks, an Southern Methodist University alumna, is taking over as interim White House communications director after the tumultuous 10-day reign of Anthony Scaramucci. Hicks, 28, is one of President Donald Trump's longest-serving aides.

Hicks majored in English on the Hilltop and distinguished herself as a member of the school's club lacrosse team, but her background — SMU is ranked 108th among English programs in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report — is something of an anomaly among the prestigious degrees held by Trump's inner circle. Ivanka Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School. Jared Kushner, her husband, went to Harvard. Trump adviser Steve Bannon has a pedestrian undergrad degree from Virginia Tech but an MBA from Harvard Business School. Scaramucci has a law degree from Harvard and John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, has a Master of Science degree from Georgetown.

Hicks, a Connecticut native and former teen model who once appeared on the cover of a Gossip Girl novelization, began her path to the White House two years after graduating from SMU in 2012 when she worked at a Manhattan public relations firm. She worked with one of the firm's clients, Ivanka Trump, who was expanding her fashion line. Hicks became friends with the future first daughter (and presidential adviser), and Hicks modeled some of Ivanka Trump's clothes online.

Eventually, Hicks grabbed the attention of Donald Trump, and he hired her to work at the Trump Organization.

Hicks played a crucial role in the presidential campaign, often serving as the gatekeeper for reporters and news organizations hoping to get access to Trump or one of his events. In September 2015, when Trump made his first campaign stop at the American Airlines Center, a one-word email from the notoriously tight-lipped Hicks was all the Observer needed to get into the rally.

After Trump's election in November, Hicks was named director of strategic communications for Trump, often serving as the gatekeeper for the president from her office adjacent to the Oval Office. When Trump brought in Scaramucci, who was fired after profanely ranting about other White House employees to the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, Hicks was one of the few members of the communications staff to survive the change in leadership. Scaramucci offered support Wednesday.

The White House did not say how long Hicks will remain in the role or whether it's an audition for a more permanent gig.

"We will make an announcement on a permanent communications director at the appropriate time," it said in a statement.

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