Hillsdale graduate Arielle Mueller ’15 has accepted a position as press secretary for recently-elected Utah senator Mitt Romney.
After graduating from Hillsdale College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Arielle Mueller wasted no time beginning her professional career.
Mueller spent a year in Madrid, Spain immediately after completing her undergraduate studies, where she received a master’s degree and taught history and art at a bilingual middle and high school.
Afterward, she returned to the United States, where she worked for Florida senator Marco Rubio for two and a half years. Her latest job on Capitol Hill has taken her to Romney’s office.
Mueller said halfway through her studies at Hillsdale, she got the idea that she might want to work in Washington, D.C. The summer after her junior year of college, Mueller completed an internship with Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise.
“After I had that internship, I fell in love with the Hill and the process there,” Mueller said. “I knew I eventually wanted to come back and live in D.C. and work on the Hill.”
Mueller had also studied Spanish all her life, and at the time was pursuing a Spanish minor at Hillsdale in addition to her history major. She said working in Washington for the first time made her realize her love for the city and the prospect of working there, but she didn’t want to give up on her love for Spanish either.
“I had this dual dream of living abroad and living in Spain, so I applied to this master’s program in Madrid. I ended up getting accepted to that the spring of my senior year and put the D.C. dream on hold,” Mueller said. “I knew if I didn’t live abroad right after graduation, I might not get the chance again.”
Professor of Spanish Carmen Wyatt-Hayes had Mueller as a student at Hillsdale and said Mueller was “always bright and thoughtful” and “always committed to doing the best thing for people.” Wyatt-Hayes also encouraged Mueller to look into going to Spain after graduating.
“What we try to do is prepare students for an experience abroad,” Wyatt-Hayes said. “What you want to do is lay the foundations of grammar and vocabulary so that when they go to Spain, everything isn’t simply a cloud of not understanding. But there’s no equivalent to being in the culture itself, because you see how a different people does things.”
Mueller’s lifelong experience with Spanish and year-long experience in Madrid prepared her well for her next job. After Rubio ended his campaign for president in 2016, Mueller moved back to the United States.
Since many of Rubio’s constituents speak Spanish, Mueller fit the bill for what Rubio was looking for. She was hired on as a staff assistant and eventually worked her way up to the position of press secretary for the senator. Mueller’s fluency in Spanish was essential to her everyday duties.
“I was mostly speaking to Spanish-speaking constituents,” Mueller said. “In a press capacity, I was helping out with anything press-related there. We ended up hiring a Hispanic media director who took that whole portfolio. It was just filling in the gaps wherever it was needed.”
After working for Rubio for the next two and a half years, another high-profile opportunity opened up. Romney claimed the open Senate seat in Utah by nearly 30 percentage points in November 2018, and Mueller learned of the newly-elected senator’s search for a press secretary by word of mouth.
“He’s somebody I’ve always thought was a man of good character and somebody that put out good ideas,” Mueller said. “But most of all, he’s a good person with strong morals.”
Almost immediately after beginning her new job as press secretary for Romney, the senator worked with Mueller’s former boss, Rubio, to roll out paid family leave legislation.
“It was really fun to see my old boss and new boss come together and unveil this big piece of legislation the GOP hasn’t tackled so far. It’s exciting to see we’re joining this conversation of paid family leave,” Mueller said. “It was a busy week; it was fun to get thrown into it. It’s a baptism by fire.”
Mueller said the nature of the 24/7 news cycle in Washington means she must constantly stay on top of the latest happenings on Capitol Hill. Being a press secretary means wearing different hats as well: It includes writing speeches, drafting statements, posting on social media, planning press conferences, and taking questions from reporters.
Since being press secretary means Mueller is now Romney’s official spokesperson, Mueller said it’s important that people in her position believe in the ideas their bosses do.
“That was always really important for me. That’s why I’ve worked for Senator Rubio and now Senator Romney,” Mueller said. “I really believe in what they’re doing. That makes going to work easy, and you don’t have a lot of those conflicts.”
Although the pressure of being spokesperson for a United States Senator appears daunting enough, Mueller didn’t seem to add any more to the fact that she’s worked for two former presidential candidates as well.
“It is kind of funny to think of that, but I don’t really think about it that way,” Mueller said. “Right now, I’m just working hard and enjoying what I do.”