Back In School
By Heidi H.
Ratings Info-friendship, Donna tries to go back to school
Disclaimers-These are not my characters and I am making no money off of them.
Spoilers-small one with Donna from "In The Shadow of 2 Gunmen"
Special Thanks-Sarah, the beta reader who helped this story from dying a slow death with all of her wonderful help and suggestions.
"I will now take a few questions." CJ said, wrapping up the morning briefing.
Reporters began clamoring and shouting out questions.
"Andrea" CJ said.
"Is it confirmed that the president is meeting with Senator Bennett on the education reform bill?" Andrea Peterson asked.
"The president is not meeting with Senator Bennett today." CJ said, trying to draw attention away from the education bill.
"Danny" CJ said.
"How does rider 16 attached to the new weapons bill affect members of the white house staff?" Danny asked.
"Which rider was that you were referring to? The bill has about 30 riders attached at last count?" CJ shot back at the reporter.
" It was rider 16 and I am specifically referring to the rider that states that all senior white house staff and assistants must have a college degree?" Danny said, looking up from his notes.
"The president has the bill on his desk and he is reviewing it at this time." CJ said.
CJ ended the press conference and walked out of the briefing room. She knew that Danny's unanswered question would probably haunt her throughout the rest of the day's briefings.
Donna Moss knew about the rider and was extremely worried about her job. This was Washington DC and the only way to get a job in this town was to have a degree, which she did not.
The president promptly walked into the oval office ready to start the staff meeting.
"What is up with the rider attached to the weapons bill?" President Bartlett asked.
"The rider will affect all senior white house staff and assistants. The rider states that all upper staff must hold a college degree." Toby explained.
"Ok, but who does it affect here in the west wing and what does Danny Concanon know?" President Bartlett asked again.
"Danny Concanon doesn't know anything other than there is a rider attached that could have possible lasting implications on the white house staff." CJ explained.
"So far, it only affects one member of my staff." Josh said.
"Who?" the president asked.
"Donna" Josh said.
"Really?" the president said with a grin on his face.
"Yeah, she never got to finish her degree because she came to work for us during the campaign." Josh explained.
"Donna certainly earned her stripes working for you." Sam said, knowing how well she handled Josh.
"We need the weapons bill." the president calmly stated.
The group in the room was silent. They needed the weapons bill to pass, but there was a bigger question they had to answer. Was it right to sacrifice one of their own for political gains?
"What about her going back to school before the bill passes? She would be enrolled and getting some sort of a degree." Toby said.
"She could get a degree in anything and still meet the requirements." Sam said.
"I'll talk to Donna and see how she feels." the president said.
Donna was on the phone when Josh approached her desk. She quickly ended the phone call and looked up at her boss.
"The president wants to see you." Josh said, without mincing words.
Donna was shocked that the president actually wanted to see her. She was worried about what would happen once she entered the oval office.
"Donna, come on in." the president greeted her.
"Sir" Donna greeted him.
"Josh, shut the door and go back to work. I'm sure that you can survive without your assistant for a little while." the president said, dismissing Josh.
"I'm sure you already know about the rider attached to the weapons bill." the president said.
"Yes, I know about it." Donna said.
"We need the bill to pass, as you know." President Bartlett said.
"I understand and my resignation will be on Josh's desk by Friday." Donna said.
"What?!?" the president exclaimed in confusion.
"I will resign, so you don't have to fire me." Donna said sadly.
"Back up here. No one is quitting or getting fired. How would you feel about going back to school to get your degree? If you enroll in a degree program before the bill is signed, you would be in the clear as Toby informed me this morning." the president explained all of the details.
"I need to think about things. I don't know if Georgetown University would even accept me. The University of Wisconsin isn't exactly in the same league. I have an eclectic set of courses." Donna explained.
"Yes, I noticed that. I have a copy of that transcript. English, Latin, political science, government, communications, education, and economics." President Bartlett read from the paper he was holding in his hand.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do. When do I need to make a decision on this?" Donna asked.
"Let me know by next week." Bartlett said and let Donna get back to work.
Donna left work early and headed toward Georgetown University. She wanted to make sure that the university would accept her before she told anyone her plans. A college degree was something that she had to have to survive in Washington DC and the political arena.
"Miss Moss, come on back." Elizabeth Allen ushered her into an office in the admissions department.
"Here are the papers I was told to bring in." Donna handed Liz the stack of papers from her bag.
"Thanks. I see that you are interested in the political science and communications program. Why?" Liz asked.
"I work in the white house. I work for the Deputy Chief Of Staff. I want to get a degree that will help me in the future." Donna explained.
"Are you looking to get a promotion with your degree?" Liz asked.
"I am trying to get the degree, so I can get a good job when the time comes." Donna said.
"Well, your high school and college transcripts certainly meet our entrance requirements. Forgive me for saying this, but you aren't our typical student. Please don't let this dissuade you, but I don't see you ever graduating." Liz said.
"I am going to get my degree." Donna said with conviction.
"Ok, then. Here is a course catalog and an admissions slip. Read the directions and fill out the papers." Liz said.
Liz watched the young woman go. She had seen it before. Some White House groupie wanting to get that political science degree to impress the boss and move up the food chain. She didn't want these girls messing with her admittance records. Liz thought that this one might different, she clearly had the drive and the want, but that probably would soon change once this woman got rejected by the man that she was trying to impress.
Donna left the office filling energized. She was going to get that degree and people would be proud of her.
Donna was sitting at the table pursuing over papers from the university when Sam walked over.
"Hi, Donna" Sam said, sliding into a chair at her table.
"Hey" Donna said with a smile.
"Are you going back to school to finish your degree?" Sam asked after seeing the papers on the table.
"Yeah, in political science and communications." Donna said.
"Political science and communications, huh? Whose job are you after? You know that you can always have mine and have to work with Toby." Sam said, joking around with Donna.
"Just trying to secure my future." Donna said.
"What classes are you taking?" Sam asked, intrigued.
"Well, I will be taking 320, which is the US and foreign policy, 325, which is the US Presidency, and Communications 150 which is public speaking and writing." Donna explained.
"You should do great in those courses. This is stuff you deal with on a daily basis." Sam said.
"Thanks for the support, but these kids are five to six years younger than I am." Donna confided to Sam.
"You will be great." Sam said.
"These programs require an internship and I am kinda worried about that." Donna explained.
"Why are you worried? I'm sure wherever you have to intern around here can easily be worked out. I wouldn't worry about it." Sam said, trying to keep Donna's spirits up.
It was nice to eat lunch with a friend. Since moving to Washington, she hadn't made any friends. The people in her apartment building had regular jobs and lives. They didn't know Donna because her schedule was so weird and confusing. Even her roommate had quit interacting with her. Cheryl lived her own life and simply ignored Donna. The people she worked with and saw on a daily basis became her lifeline and friends. They helped to keep her grounded.
Donna was happy that someone believed in her. Working in the White House was great, but it definitely had it's drawbacks when you didn't have your degree. People never took her seriously in terms of opinions or contributions to the larger picture. She wanted that degree so people would have to take her seriously and listen to what she had to say.
Donna and Sam finished lunch and went back to their respective jobs. Donna was soon summoned to the oval office.
"Donna, come in" the president said.
"Sir" Donna greeted him.
"An old friend from Georgetown said that you are now a student in political science and communications." the president said.
"That's right, sir." Donna said.
Donna filled the president in on her courses and future internships.
"Well, if you need help with anything, there is an office of people out there who are willing to help you out." the president explained.
"Sir, maybe you should ask them before volunteering them to help me." Donna said gently.
"Nonsense. You are one of us and they would be glad to help you." the president said and then sent Donna back to work.
Donna went back and sat at her desk. She knew that this group of fiercely proud, smart, and tough people would help her and support her along the way. She was going to make someone proud of her for doing this.
Her parents hated the fact that she dropped out of college for Dr. Freeride. They railed at her everytime she spoke to them about not having a college degree and working in the White House didn't matter to them at all. She was going to surprise them all by giving up her own time and giving her degree first priority after her job.