Ask Michael Cravens what has been the most fulfilling thing in his life so far and he immediately cites his faith. He’ll quickly add that serving as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R.-Miss.) runs a very close second.
“Congressman Harper has a heart for serving others unlike anyone else I have ever met in my life,” said the Louisville native, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Mississippi 31 years ago. “He sets an example of service to his congressional team and all of us strive to emulate that in the way that we serve his constituents and the citizens of Mississippi. It’s simply an honor to serve on his team.”
Cravens is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the congressman’s Washington and Mississippi offices. He also provides counsel to him on an array of issues.
“It’s also a great privilege to work with Congressman Harper’s incredibly dedicated and talented congressional team,” he said. “Often, I am approached by young staffers from states across the country who, after having met Congressman Harper, ask me to consider them to work for his office if a position were to ever come available. His dedication to his family (including having raised a son with special needs) and his desire to serve his constituents with honor, is so inspiring.”
Cravens’ migration to Capitol Hill began in Louisville, where he still has a house near downtown.
“I grew up in the country, and living so close to Starkville, I had naturally grown up a Mississippi State fan,” Cravens said. “However, I was fortunate to receive academic and leadership scholarships from Ole Miss, without which it would have been extremely difficult for me to have attended college, if at all.”
Cravens had also seen the university’s Pride of the South marching band perform at a game and became interested in joining. He auditioned and was fortunate to receive a band scholarship as well.
“It was a privilege to play trumpet in the Ole Miss marching and concert bands for my five years there,” he said. “My experiences with the Ole Miss band, with Dr. Luther Snavely as band director in those days, are certainly among my most cherished memories from college.”
When it comes to Ole Miss engineering, Cravens has fond memories of certain professors and their classes.
“I would have to say that Dr. Pam Lawhead and Dr. Tobin McGinnis were two of my very favorite professors,” he said. “They both had a gift for relating our coursework in very practical ways to the real world. Dr. Lawhead and Dr. Maginnis were not only tremendous teachers, but they were also great encouragers and counselors.”
While at Ole Miss, Cravens held memberships and offices in Kappa Kappa Psi national honorary marching band fraternity; Alpha Phi Omega national honorary Boy Scout fraternity; the Association of Computing Machinery and the Public Relations Student Society of America. He was also inducted into the campus’s Omicron Delta Kappa chapter, a national leadership honor society.
Following his graduation from the university, Cravens’ first job was as a software design engineer for Texas Instruments in Dallas.
“I had the fascinating opportunity to write software for DOD projects at TI, and my computer and engineering classes, as well as my experiences at Ole Miss, all greatly prepared me for this first job out of college,” he said.
When Cravens is not busy working in Harper’s offices, he enjoys traveling, spending time with his family, playing piano and trumpet, and dabbling in genealogy.
“Because I originally majored in music and planned to be a band director, music has always played an important role in my life,” Cravens said. “For the last 19 years, as a volunteer I have organized and produced a benefit concert in my hometown, called ‘Carl Jackson’s Home for Christmas.’”
A fellow Louisville native and multi-Grammy winner, Jackson, who performed all over the world with Glen Campbell in the 1970s and ’80s, brings a number of award-winning Nashville performers home each year for two sold-out performances of country, bluegrass and Christmas music.
“This is a benefit for the old Strand Theater in Louisville,” Cravens said. “This year’s concert is slated for Saturday, Dec. 12th, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.”
Though Cravens’ parents are deceased, all of his extended family – including brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and stepmother – reside in Louisville. His stepfather is a resident of a Mississippi veterans’ home.
Cravens is quick to acknowledge that the coursework, campus activities, organizational memberships and personal growth during his college years all helped prepare him for his career and ultimately for the job that he has now.
“I daily apply skills that I learned at Ole Miss to my job in Washington,” Cravens said. “I’m truly thankful for my experiences with the university and Ole Miss engineering.”
Courtesy of Edwin Smith & Ole Miss News