The Road Less Traveled

By Jake Matthews
Photo by Hannah Cruz, senior journalism major from Rocklin, California.

Robert Frost said taking the road less traveled made all the difference. Lexie Conduff would say the same thing. While her classmates in elementary school were reading “Nancy Drew” and “The Hardy Boys,” she was reading books on former presidents. While her high school peers were packing up to go to college in their home state of Georgia, she was heading to The University of the South in Tennessee. When her college friends were trying to find jobs around town in the summer of 2009, she was on a plane headed to Washington, D.C.

Conduff spent her summer in D.C. drafting press releases and constituent correspondences on legislative issues for U. S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas. She said Pryor and his entire office were wholly committed to putting the needs of Arkansas first, and it was an inspiration for her to contribute where she was able. Conduff admits it was never the most glamorous thing, but it was an experience that pushed her mentally.

“It was fast-paced, challenging and fun. It was kind of like a puzzle. I was piecing the whole experience together,” she said. “I’ve always had a good idea of what I want in life, and I have no problem going after it. Working for Sen. Pryor helped channel that.”

Pryor said he was happy he could play such a pivotal role in Conduff’s direction.

"Lexie did great work in my Washington, D.C., office, and I appreciate her effort and dedication," Pryor said. "I hope that Lexie's experience gave her insight into how our government works and inspired her to participate in public service in the future."

Conduff said the experience has indeed inspired her. She is currently in the graduate program at Texas Tech pursuing a master’s degree in mass communications, focusing on political communication. She is currently interested in examining media on the voting behavior of the youngest voting demographic. She said she hopes to one day move back to Washington, D.C., and work as a press secretary.

Conduff once again found herself in new territory on the road less traveled in her decision to come to Texas Tech. The financial awards she received and her experience visiting family relatives in West Texas helped assure her she was making the right choice.

“I like living at a slow pace. I’m a southern girl,” she said. “I don’t like living in a jungle of rush.”

The switch from school in Tennessee to school in Texas was a transition, she admitted, but she was quick to add that the people in the College of Media & Communication have made her feel right at home.

“I am happy with my choice because the faculty is so impressive academically,” she said, “and the faculty and other graduate students had been so warm and welcoming.” Conduff said she has been molding this path for herself for some time. Her love of the political process comes from her genuine optimism about people. At The University of the South, she majored in English and minored in political science.

Conduff’s mother, Leigh Anne Conduff, said Lexie’s studying so many political topics and her continued optimism after her internship with Sen. Pryor helped mold her daughter’s worldview.

“She was able to see so much of what she had spent so much time studying,” Leigh Anne Conduff said. “She truly believes in it.”

Lexie Conduff agreed with her mother. She said seeing the day-to-day discourse between Democrats and Republicans solidified her belief in the American system of government.

“Getting to see both sides of the aisle and the discourse between the two,” she said. “It really made me believe and validated what I thought of the process we have.”

Leigh Anne Conduff said her daughter has always been a natural talent, a born leader, and was always the one to take charge and figure things out on her own.

“I’m sure being the oldest of three girls had something to do with her always being Madame Chairman of the Board,” she said with laugh.

Leigh Anne Conduff said she hopes her daughter continues to overcome obstacles and never gets tired of taking the road less traveled. She added that her indomitable will and spirit are hard to come by and that she can achieve anything she wants too.

“She’s too driven and bossy not to go places,” she said with a chuckle.

Jake Mathews is a senior public relations major from Midland, Texas