USU Alumni Spotlight - Tracee Gross

Tracee Gross traces her love of politics back to her days as an undergraduate at Utah State University. Today she works as deputy legislative director for Senator Conrad of North Dakota. I recently had the opportunity to ask Ms. Gross about her professional life, as well as her time at USU.

A.I. Why did you choose USU?

T.G. The first thing that drew me to USU was a scholarship offer. When I visited USU prior to making a decision on whether to attend, I noticed immediately that I felt at home on the campus. It was a very welcoming environment, and I truly enjoyed the four years I spent at USU.

A.I. What caused your interest in politics?

T.G. My interest in politics came as the result of two influences. The first was casting my first vote in the 1992 presidential election on the USU campus. The second was my internship with Congresswoman Karen Shepherd.

A.I. Tell me a little about your first internship.

T.G. My first internship was made possible through USU’s Political Science Department. During the summer of 1994, I interned for then-Congresswoman Karen Shepherd in her Salt Lake City office. Over the course of the internship, I witnessed first hand the important work the Congresswoman and her staff did for people of Utah, assisting them in securing federal benefits to which they were entitled. My duties included answering the phone and recording constituent opinions, organizing daily news clips, and assisting staff with various projects.

A.I. How did you get that first position after graduation?

T.G. Having enjoyed my internship experience with Congresswoman Karen Shepherd, I decided to explore internship possibilities in Washington, DC. As a native of North Dakota, I applied for an internship in Congressman Earl Pomeroy’s office. My connections to the state as well as my previous internship experience helped me secure an internship. At the conclusion of my internship, I was fortunate to be hired for a permanent position in Pomeroy’s office.

A.I. How did you transition onto Sen. Conrad's staff?

T.G. Prior to joining Senator Conrad’s staff, I was on the staff of Congressman Earl Pomeroy for 5-1/2 years. During that time I became very familiar with the inter-workings of the House of Representatives as well as the issues that were important to the state of North Dakota. I worked up through the ranks starting as an intern and eventually moved into a senior legislative assistant position. The opportunity to work for Senator Conrad presented a new challenge for me to focus more directly on issues I enjoyed - water resources, appropriations and Indian Affairs, and to learn the process and procedure in the Senate. Additionally, it provided me an opportunity to work on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, on which Senator Conrad is a senior member. As Deputy Legislative Director, I am also responsible for the Senator’s overall legislative priorities as well as training and supervising staff.

A.I. I noticed you were active in the Lewis and Clark Legacy project. Tell me about that. What other accomplishments are you proud of?

T.G. The Lewis and Clark Legacy Trails is a project started by Senator Conrad several years ago. The project involves the creation of a network of recreational trails along the Missouri River that retrace the steps taken by Lewis and Clark during their expedition West 200 years ago. More than 11 trail projects are under construction, which allow people to access areas where Lewis and Clark walked and experience first hand what they saw. My efforts have focused specifically on securing federal funding to construct these trails.

In addition, I am proud of my work to assist communities in getting access to clean, safe drinking water through passage of a $630 million authorization bill to help the state of North Dakota meet its contemporary water needs. I have worked to secure authorization and funding for vital flood control projects to protect communities from devastating floods. Much of my work has focused on helping several communities impacted by flooding from a closed basin lake, very similar to the situation Salt Lake City confronted back in the 80s from flooding from the Great Salt Lake. My efforts have focused on securing federal resources to raise roads, build levees and relocate threatened homes from the rising water as well as construction of an outlet to reduce the flooding.

Finally, I have advanced an Internet-based diabetes management program to help Native Americans tackle the diabetes epidemic. Diabetes is a huge problem, particularly among Native Americans. Nearly half of all Native American adults have diabetes. It is also the fifth leading cause of death in Indian Country, with a death rate that is four times the national average.

Diabetes, if not managed properly, can cause serious problems including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, leg and foot amputations, and even death. The program I have worked on allows patients to input their blood sugar data directly on the Web. Once on the Web, doctors from hard-to-reach clinics and hospitals can look at the data and recommend changes in diet, exercise and drug therapy. The program is vital to helping these individuals better manage their diabetes.

A.I. What are your hobbies and interests outside of politics?

T.G. Outside of politics, I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, and taking in the wide variety of activities in the Washington, DC area from concerts to plays to museums. I am also a big baseball fan and enjoy watching both the Nationals and Orioles play.

A.I. Is there anything else you think our readers would like to know about you?

T.G. Working on Capitol Hill the past nine years has been an eye opening experience. Most people experience politics in thirty second sound bites on the news, but I would like people to know that there is so much more. Our Representatives and Senators as well as the staff that work here are very dedicated to their respective states.

Memorial Service Held
A memorial service for the eight Utah State University students and one instructor killed in a van accident in September was held on Monday, November 7, 2005. All university classes and most offices closed down from 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. to allow students and faculty to attend the service held in the Spectrum.

President Albrecht opened the service which was attended by the victims’ families. Also speaking were Interim Provost Noelle Cockett and L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Music for the memorial was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.

A video of the memorial service is available to view online at the Utah State University homepage. A special memorial song is also available for download.

Donations Being Accepted in Honor of Victims
In the wake of an accident which claimed the lives of eight USU students and one instructor, a number of memorial funds have been established to accept donations. The university has set up a fund to help support the families of the accident victims as well as a memorial scholarship fund. To learn more about these funds, and to donate, visit

In addition, Jenny Weller of North Ogden established the “USU Accident Survivors Fund” to help the accident’s two survivors, Jared Nelson and Robert Peterson. Donations to this fund can be made at any America First Credit Union or either of the two Alliance Credit Union branches in Ogden.

New USU Provost Named
After a nationwide search that began in February, USU has named the new provost. Raymond Thomas Coward, the former dean of the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University, will serve as the new provost and executive vice president. This position makes Coward the chief academic officer at Utah State and second in command to the president. This change is in response to former USU Provost Stan Albrecht becoming USU president. Noelle Cockett has been serving as interim provost and will return to her duties as dean of the College of Agricultural on January 2, 2006.

Coward began his career in academics as an 8th grade biology teacher in Princeton, N.J. He served as a professor or administrator at several institutions around the country, including the University of New Hampshire, University of Florida, University of Vermont, Purdue University, and most recently at Penn State University.

Provost Coward will move to Logan with his wife, Andrea. The couple has two children currently attending school in Florida and Georgia.

Gallery Shows Off USU Artists
As a professor of art, Harrison Groutage spent three decades sharing his love of art with students at Utah State University. In March 2005, Kim Larkin and USU grad Dee Malan opened the Groutage Gallery in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City to honor the artist’s work. In addition to showcasing Groutage, the gallery also features works by retired USU professor Adrian Van Suchtelen, and former Groutage students, including guest artist Steve Kropp and artist-in-residence Paul Butler.

For more information about the gallery, visit

November's Feature Benefits
Medicare-D Seminar
If you or your loved ones are interested in knowing more about the new Medicare-D program then join the USU Alumni Association at a special information seminar. Open enrollment for the program begins November 15, 2005. Twelve-year Senior Insurance and Medicare Specialist Jon Christopher will cover everything you need to know about the new drug benefit program. If you or your loved ones are over 65 years of age, you need this information.

Click here for a list of seminar days and times. There are a limited number of seats available, so please call 800.884.6138 to reserve your place.

Special Bookstore Sale
The Utah State University Bookstore invites all Alumni Sustaining Members to the USU Bookstore's PRIVATE Christmas Sale, Thursday, December 1, 2005, from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Save 20% or more on Aggie Gear for the whole family, with more great savings available throughout the Bookstore.

We will close our doors to the public at 5:00 and re-open at 5:30 for invited guests only. Remember to bring your Alumni Sustaining Membership Card for admission to this exclusive event.

Gift wrapping will be available that evening for a nominal fee. The discounts are only available in store that evening. Validation for the parking terrace will be available with a purchase of $5 or more.

Join A Special USU Service Project
The holiday season is fast approaching and the Associated Students of Utah State University would like to invite all Aggies to help make the season a little brighter for the less fortunate. “Stuff a Bus” aims to collect toys, canned food, and money for families in Cache Valley. The service drive will begin November 14 and run through December 2, 2005. A bus will be parked on campus on November 30, and in the Wal-Mart parking lot for students and community members to fill. For those living outside the valley who want to help out, donations can be made by check payable to: V.R.C. Service Center. The address to send donations is:

V.R.C. Service Center
TSC 332 B, 0105 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322

If you have any questions, email

Alumni Calendar Thank You
Thank you to all of those who submitted photos for the upcoming alumni calendar. The winners will be announced in an upcoming issue of Aggie Insights.


Chapter News

Save The Date
November 11, 2005 - Pregame Tailgate party at the Polynesian Cultural Center
November 12, 2005 - Holiday Harvest Boutique at the USU Tooele Campus

Note: More information on these events will be forthcoming.


WAC Basketball Preseason Polls Announced
The Western Athletic Conference preseason basketball polls are out and the USU men’s team is picked to finish second in both the media and coaches polls. The men’s team returns four starters and five letter-winners, including Nate Harris, Chris Huber, Cass Matheus, David Pak, and Jaycee Carroll. Last year’s team finished with a 24-8 record and won the Big West Championship. The men’s team is also ranked 46th in the country.

The Aggie women’s team was picked seventh by the media poll and ninth by the coaches. The team went 14-14 last season and qualified for the Big West Tournament in only its second season. Ali (Aird) Marchant, Brittany Tressler, and Taylor Richards all earned honorable mention all-Big West honors last year and will return to the squad this year.

For more on Aggie basketball, visit the USU athletics website.


Travel Opportunities

Acapulco and Mexican Riviera Cruise
January 28-February 5, 2006
Sail the beautiful Norwegian Star all the way to Acapulco from Los Angeles and experience Mexico’s vibrant culture along the Mexican Riviera. On this unique 8-day itinerary you can dance all night long in Acapulco, discover the colonial beauty of Puerto Vallarta, dive into the exotic underwater world of Cabo San Lucas and relax on the beaches and boulevards of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa.

Tour of Italy's Great Cities
May 9 -17, 2006
Join fellow Aggies on this nine-day trip through Italy. Visit the highlights of Rome, Florence, and Venice; stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa; marvel at Juliet's Balcony in Verona; and drive through the Chianti wine region of Tuscany.
For more information on upcoming alumni travel events, visit or call the Alumni Relations office at (435)797-2055.


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