Posted on Aug 23, 2002

Amy Bonitatibus with Senator Clinton

Amy Bonitatibus was supposed
to be a junior this year at Union College. But instead of studying toward her double major in
political science and biology, she will be interim deputy press secretary to
U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Rotterdam native earned the post by impressing the senator and
her staffers with her hard work as an intern and being at the right place at
the right time: the woman she replaces – Jennell Cofer – is taking a six-month
maternity leave.

Bonitatibus, who began the
internship in Clinton's Washington office in April, found herself taking on more
responsibilities, eventually going to press conferences in place of Cofer. By
the end of May, she was offered the job.

“I was shocked,” she recalls
about getting the offer. “I said to them, 'Do you know I'm still in school?'”

She needed a few days to
consider the rare opportunity. She had to check with College officials to
ensure that she could defer a planned term abroad to Australia, and to make sure she had enough credits to graduate
on time. She also spoke with Union College President Roger Hull who quipped, “If
you don't take this opportunity, I don't want you back.”

And she had to check with
U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty's Washington office, where she had agreed to intern this summer. “I
called and I said, 'I've been offered this other position,' and they said, 'And
you're thinking of turning it down to come here? Are you kidding?'”

She accepted the post in Clinton's office the next day.

“After accepting the position
… I conducted an interview with the senator and she congratulated me on my new
position and expressed her excitement for having me here,” she recalls. “She
didn't realize that I was still in school — let alone a sophomore, which I
still don't think she knows — but she said that she thinks it's great that I
was willing to take time off to work in D.C. She explained that her daughter,
Chelsea, also took a term off to work campaigning for her during her Senate

A typical week finds
Bonitatibus doing a range of tasks including writing press releases,
determining what interviews the senator will honor, scheduling press events, and
conducting Q&A's with the senator for a radio and TV feeds.

“So far, this has been an
unparalleled learning experience and a great taste for the challenges that
await me in the future,” she said.