By Miguel Gonzalez
TCNJ College Democrats invited alumnus Derek Roseman (’96), Gov. Phil Murphy’s chief speechwriter, to speak to the student body on Oct. 9 in the Social Sciences Building Room 325.
Roseman, who plays an instrumental role in Murphy’s communication team, never imagined being Murphy’s chief speechwriter while he attended Trenton State College. At the College, Roseman was involved in the College Democrats and WTSR, the College’s radio station.
Despite his participation in the College Democrats, Roseman was more dedicated to WTSR. He hosted his own show for three and a half years.
By the spring semester of his senior year, Roseman had no desire to live in New Jersey, and believed his degree in political science only provided a path to attend graduate school.
He applied to many graduate schools near Washington D.C. that offered a master’s in public policy or public administration.
Roseman ended up traveling south to Georgetown University to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. While studying, Roseman also interned in the press office of former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, who at the time was the senate majority leader, according to the New Jersey Herald.
Roseman said he had the opportunity to intern at the White House, but he chose to work on Capitol Hill because he wanted to write reports on policy issues instead of doing what he thought would be meaningless busy work, like delivering coffee. After two years of drafting policy reports on a wide range of topics such as healthcare, education, transportation, commerce and foreign relations, Roseman assumed he was going to be a Capitol Hill staffer.
“I didn’t want to be a policy analyst,” Roseman said. “I thought I would get this degree and be a staff member on Capitol Hill working on policy issues. Life doesn’t turn out the way you scripted it to be.”
After finishing his master’s degree at Georgetown, Roseman stayed in Washington D.C. and worked at the Brookings Institution as a media relations officer for two years. During his tenure, he got to meet E.J. Dionne, a Washington Post columnist. Roseman recalled his expertise in politics and his fun personality.
Roseman returned to New Jersey in 2004 and worked as a press secretary for the senate Democrats in the state legislature, but Roseman’s father thought he was making a huge career mistake.
“I was willing to roll the dice and follow my gut when I went back to New Jersey,” Roseman said.
By 2010, Roseman was hired as communications director for Senate President Steve Sweeney. Two years later, Roseman left his job to become a freelancer for a consulting firm.
Moving along his career in New Jersey, Roseman recalled his first time meeting Murphy in 2014, when Murphy was campaigning for governor.
“We just sort of hit it off,” Roseman said. “He didn’t have a job for me. I’m glad I met him though because he said ‘someday, our paths will cross again.’”
In the spring of 2016, Roseman was asked to be the communications director for Hillary Clinton’s Democratic primaries campaign. He was close to taking up the offer until he heard about Murphy’s up-and-coming gubernatorial campaign.
In June of 2016, Roseman joined Murphy’s campaign as the communications director and spokesperson. As the communications director, Roseman resorted to drafting and writing speeches for Murphy. As the 2017 New Jersey gubernatorial elections waged on, Roseman became Murphy’s go-to man for speeches.
“I wrote speeches the way he likes speeches,” Roseman said. “What I became from his campaign was being a storyteller.”
In January of 2018, Murphy announced that Roseman would be part of his communications team as the chief speechwriter, according to Insider NJ.
Since the beginning of Murphy’s first term, Roseman had the opportunity to write Murphy’s inaugural address on Jan. 16, his first budget address on March 13 and his speech marking 100 days as governor on April 25.
Roseman said he has written 400 speeches from Jan.16 to the end of September this year. Despite the stressful work, Roseman is proud to work for Murphy.
“To know he trusts me to put forward his vision is incredibly fulfilling,” Roseman said.
Roseman recognized how many mistakes he made on his journey to becoming Murphy’s speechwriter. In spite of several challenges, Roseman reassured students that it’s OK to make mistakes after college.
“People think college is the last great time to make mistakes and kind of get away from them,” Roseman said. “I’m proof that sometimes you can make mistakes in your adult life.”
Garrett Racz, a junior political science and economics double major and president of the College Democrats, asked how students can be more involved in politics. Roseman said that students should canvas for local campaigns in order to interact with constituents.
“If you think someday, you want to be involved in office, you have to experience knocking on doors,” Roseman said.
David McMillan, a sophomore economics and philosophy double major, was impressed by Roseman’s effort to pursue his passion in public service.
“Derek sharing his story has enabled us to listen and think profoundly about our professional aspirations,” McMillan said. “It was inspiration to hear, especially for anyone interested in working in public service.”