Former Teammates Reunite on Stage for Civil Dialogue

When Alix Dejean ’00 first visited Episcopal’s campus in 1998, his tour guide was Davis White ’99. Little did they know, their paths would continue to cross throughout their careers, despite working on different sides of the political aisle. Twenty-six years after that first meeting, Dejean and White sat together on Fox Stage in Pendleton Hall to model civil discourse while discussing the current state of politics.

The panel was part of the year’s final McCain-Ravenel Day that honored two exceptional men: Senator John McCain ’54 and longtime EHS English teacher William B. Ravenel, the namesakes of the McCain-Ravenel Center (MRC). Before the panel, students watched the viral moment in 2008 when Sen. McCain defended his rival President Barack Obama. A woman demeaned Obama’s background at an event on McCain’s campaign trail. McCain kindly interrupted her, calling Obama “a decent family man” and modeling civil discourse in real time.

Dejean currently works as special assistant to the President and director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs in the Vice President’s office. White, who served as the director of advance of Sen. John McCain ’54’s 2008 presidential campaign, now works as the director of the Sedona Forum at the McCain Institute. Both have worked outside of politics and laughed about how it drew them back in. “We call it Hotel California,” White said. “You can check out but you can never leave.” 

The friends and former teammates reflected upon the importance of integrity throughout the discussion, always coming back to the respect for each other that began on The Holy Hill. “We talked regularly during the campaign,” Dejean said of their long days fighting for different candidates in 2008. “We just had lighthearted conversations as brothers who had gone to Episcopal. We weren't terribly close here, but we respected each other’s commitment to service and looked out for each other.”

MRC liaison Abby Slap ’25, who deftly moderated the conversation, asked the alumni how their time at Episcopal shaped them to move forward into the world prepared for what was to come. White spoke of how he felt at home with Sen. McCain, who was “the first to say that he fell short several times.” White continued: “Episcopal is a place where you can fall short if you do it the right way. You’ll do it, and you’ll grow and learn.” Dejean quoted a conversation with his mother who accompanied him to Episcopal for the panel. As they drove around admiring the beauty of campus, she asked him: “Wasn’t it amazing how you got to come here and explore yourself in a safe environment?”