Ximena Gonzalez, 26, is deputy chief of staff for Presidential Personnel at the Obama White House.
During her time at the University of Texas at Austin she earned a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Gonzalez tells NBC News that a visit by First Lady Michelle Obama to her college campus inspired her to get involved in government.
"I heard her, and it represented something different to me," she said. "What they were trying to accomplish, I knew I wanted to be part of that."
"Coming into the White House, it wasn't intimidating," Gonzalez explains. "I was 20 at the time, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into." She and another colleague sometimes joke that, "we were raised here."
Born in Brownsville, Texas, Gonzalez is the daughter of a school bus driver and a retired special education teacher. Like other Americans of Mexican descent who grow up on the border, Gonzalez recalls traveling back and forth between both countries, comfortable between two cultures and languages.
She has been able to really put to use her bilingual and bicultural background.
In fact, traveling to Mexico with the President is one of Gonzalez's favorite memories.
"I was part of the support team for his visit to Mexico City," she told NBC Latino. "The president gave a speech at the Museum of Anthropology for thousands of Mexican university students. To travel with the president back to my homeland was a remarkable moment - to come full circle, and see him inspiring students, like I had once been."
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Gonzalez finds public service very rewarding. "When you are talking about creating systemic change and impact at a level you cannot even imagine — just to be a small part of that — I can't imagine that kind of satisfaction anywhere else."
"The only disadvantage of working in the White House," Gonzalez laughed, "is that it is very far from Brownsville, Texas!"