BY VICTORIA MESCALL
On Wednesday January 24, 2018, the Sacred Heart University Distinguished Leaders Series hosted a discussion with former first daughter and current “Today Show” co-host and “New York Times” Best Selling Author, Jenna Bush Hager.
The interview was moderated by Sacred Heart Trustee Katie Burke in the Martire Atrium, and was designed to promote Hager’s new book, co-authored by her twin sister, Barbra Bush, titled, “Sisters First”.
“We had talked a lot [about being sisters]when I had my second daughter,” said Hager. “My mother sent me a picture of myself and Barbra to show my older daughter, Mila. She wanted to explain how lucky she would be to have a sister of her own.”
In the afterward of their book, “Sisters First”, Hager notes that the inspiration for the book came on the day after Election Day 2016, when she and Barbra woke up together and were filled with gratitude that they had each other for comfort.
“When the world felt so divided, we couldn’t help but think about how awesome it would be if other women throughout the country and throughout the world could recognize their sisters and the sister-like people in their lives who gave them strength” (Hager 237).
Trustee Katie Burke asked Mrs. Hager what being a good leader is in relation to the Distinguished Leaders series. Hager answered, “A good leader listens. A good leader knows when raising your voice can make a difference.”
Her remarks came in response to a question about defiance between Hager, her twin Barbara Bush, and their parents George W. and Laura Bush.
“Our parents had always taught us that if we were lucky enough to have a voice, we should be able to use it. I think people are surprised to hear that our parents raised us to have different views and that they wanted to raise creative, strong girls with their own opinions,” said Hager.
Burke stated that Mr. and Mrs. Bush worked hard to make sure Jenna and Barbara were grounded.
“My dad kept saying in the beginning, ‘Don’t worry you can still do all the normal things college kids can do’,” said Hager.
But after an incident that involved both Hager and Barbra Bush, fake IDs, and Margaritas, detailed in their book, Hager notes her father, President George W. Bush saying, “I’m sorry. Because I told you you could be normal. But you can’t.”
She went on to add that there is no handbook for the way presidential children should behave, and if there was one, she and Barbra definitely didn’t read it.
More recently, Hager has become a co-host on the “Today Show,” married her husband, Henry Hager, and given birth to two daughters, Mila and Poppy Hager.
In an exclusive interview with The Spectrum, Hager emphazied the importance of sisterhood and family.
“Sisterhood means so many different things. It is more than just blood sisters. Our mother is an only child, but she still has her childhood friends that she travels to a different national park with on vacation with every year. Having friends and colleagues allows you to have this type of tribe of men and women who become sisters and sister-like too,” said Hager.
She also viewed her time writing her book as influential and important to her relationship with her sister.
“Through writing this book my sister and I got this extra time together,” said Hager. “We got time to travel around the country, and we felt really lucky to explore these stories that we haven’t talked about in years, and then we got to share them with people.”
She also stressed that education is crucially important to future success, and should be valued highly in society.
“When I was in college I wanted to start a charter school and fix education in this country. Education is still a passion of mine but don’t be afraid to change your mind. You can do and be anything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take risks.”