The Stunning Transformation Of Jenna Bush Hager

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It's no secret that children of politicians often make it into the spotlight themselves, thanks to their parents' high-profile careers. From Sasha and Malia Obama to Chelsea Clinton to all the Kennedys, sons and daughters of world leaders have gone on to have fruitful careers as public speakers, attorneys, and even as politicians themselves. One such dynastic political clan is the Bush family, which has produced two presidents, a presidential candidate, and a public name associated with old-school Republican values. When it was George W. Bush's time to serve as president, he did so with two grown-up daughters: his twin girls, Jenna and Barbara Bush.


Of course, many of us now know Jenna Bush Hager as the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's "Today" alongside Hoda Kotb, but Jenna has been in the public eye for years. Ever since her father's time in the Texas governor's mansion, Jenna has sparked public interest. Her life has taken her on a path of growing up, making mistakes, and developing professionally and personally in front of our eyes. Now, she's a prominent media personality and mom of three. Want to know her story of personal growth? Here is the stunning transformation of Jenna Bush Hager.

Jenna Bush was born in Texas in the 1980s to George and Laura Bush

Welcoming a baby is exciting and nerve-wracking — imagine all of that doubled when you welcome twins! That was the case for George and Laura Bush, who had twin girls Jenna and Barbara Bush on November 25, 1981. Named for her maternal grandmother, Jenna Hawkins, Jenna was born one minute after Barbara (not much rest time for Laura), as noted by Biography. Pregnancy was not an easy feat for Laura and George: As noted by CNN in a profile of Laura, she shared that she and George had even taken some of the steps towards adopting. After conducting a number of interviews that would've enabled them to adopt children, Laura found out she was pregnant. Exciting news, but the pregnancy was not an easy one. 


Laura shared that while pregnant with Jenna and Barbara, she developed toxemia, a life-threatening condition. As such, she gave birth via C-section five weeks early in order to ensure her health and the health of the babies. "I was in the operating room," George shared. "I'm an emotional person. I got weepy, and then I realized our life had changed forever, in a positive way."

Jenna Bush caused some trouble when she was in elementary school

Is there anything that parents love more than sharing embarrassing stories of their adult children during the holidays? We don't think so, and we're pretty convinced that Jenna Bush's little rebellious streak in elementary school provided some quality stories for her parents to tell at the Thanksgiving table. And to answer your questions, yes, Jenna had some rambunctious years! Jenna attended Preston Hollow Elementary School, and as noted by the community's local online magazine, she got up to some shady business as a kid. 


The magazine all but ratted Jenna out when they shared that the then-first grader slipped her Secret Service detail, only to go back onto the playground to play with a friend. What's more is that Jenna and said friend made up an elaborate story about being kidnapped. While her security team bought the story, Laura Bush was not convinced. 

Jenna then went to The Hockaday School after her time at Preston Hollow, and she recalled that the school was "bigger and shinier than ... our old elementary school." She even said that the girls at Hockaday were "prettier, and sometimes meaner."

She graduated high school a year before her father took office

High school is a rough time, and chances are none of us would've wanted famous parents on top of the challenges of high school. But that was the reality for Jenna Bush. She was in her last years of high school when her dad, George W. Bush, ran for president for the first time. 


As noted by The New York Times, Jenna and her sister, Barbara Bush, attended Austin High School — nope, they didn't go to some swanky boarding school, and that was intentional. Their parents thought public high school would be an "opportunity to be a part of their community," but really all it resulted in was Jenna being voted "most likely to trip on prom night." In fact, Jenna shared that prom was a particularly brutal part of her high school experience, as the boy she was supposed to go with stood her up. "He knows who he is. I had the prom dress and everything and I was ready to go. He dumped me and then he invited the prettiest girl in school," she shared, as noted by Hello! Magazine.

Jenna Bush was kept away from the press when her father first ran for president

Anyone who can recall the Clinton administration, or is familiar with their presidential history, knows that the press can be pretty brutal to a president's kids — in this case, we're thinking of George W. Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, and the ways in which his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was absolutely trashed by the media when she lived in the White House (via the Independent). Given what Chelsea was exposed to, it makes a lot of sense to find out that Jenna Bush and her sister, Barbara Bush, were kept out of the spotlight as much as possible during their dad's first bid for the White House. 


As noted by The New York Times, "mum was the word" when it came to Jenna and Barbara. Aides to the campaign wouldn't speak about them, their college decisions, or any information pertaining to their lives, which, given the high-profile nature of their father's career, is quite an accomplishment. At the time, Jenna and Barbara were "unknown to 99.9% of voters outside Texas" (where their father had served as governor), and The New York Times even described spotting the girls as akin to seeing the legendary monster Bigfoot.

Her first year of college proved to be a bit difficult for Jenna Bush and her twin sister

College can be a slippery time, and although their father was the president, Jenna and Barbara Bush got up to some scandalous behavior in college. As noted by the BBC, Jenna was out in Austin, Texas, when she was caught by police drinking a beer. Because she was 19 at the time (and the legal drinking age is 21), she was ordered to complete an alcohol awareness course and was sentenced to eight hours of community service. The White House at the time issued a brief statement, saying that it was a "private family matter." 


However, just two weeks later, both Jenna and Barbara were stopped by police in Texas due to underaged drinking. Jenna pleaded innocent to the charges lodged against her (that she lied about her age to acquire alcohol), and Barbara pleaded no contest to the charge of underage drinking. As it was her second offense, Jenna was charged $600 and ended up losing her license for a month as a result of the charge. She also had to fulfill more community service hours and had to take another alcohol awareness course, as reported by NBC News at the time.

Jenna and her twin sister finally got involved in politics in 2004

After staying out of the spotlight — and surviving college — Jenna Bush joined George W. Bush on the trail in 2004. George was up for reelection, and given that the then-22-year-old had stayed out of politics, it made sense that the campaign wanted to use Jenna and Barbara Bush's youth and relatability. As published in Scripps Howard News, both Jenna and Barbara first made their way onto the scene in a fashion spread in Vogue. They not only looked stunning in red and gold, respectively, but they brought a sense of youth and fun to the otherwise traditional political campaign (via the Los Angeles Times). 


The girls shared that they loved to steal records from their mom's extensive collection — some music favorites of theirs were Bob Marley, Modest Mouse, and The Strokes — and that the only reason they wanted to get involved in the campaign was because they loved their dad. Jenna and Barbara also revealed that sushi was their go-to food, that the word "awesome" was frequent in their vocabulary, and that the Mandy Moore film "Chasing Liberty" was not at all authentic to the real-life experience of a first daughter.

After Jenna left college, she opted to work as a teacher in a low-income neighborhood

As a recent college graduate, Jenna Bush decided to hold off on making her first career moves in order to help her dad campaign for a second term as president. But in 2004, it was revealed to The Washington Post that Jenna had plans to stay in Washington, D.C. and work as an elementary school teacher. (Imagine being one of her students — we wonder if George W. Bush ever stopped by her classroom!) At the time of the announcement, the White House did not disclose what school Jenna would be teaching at, but The Washington Post learned that she'd be taking a position at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. 


The school didn't confirm Jenna's employment at the time, given that a "formal agreement" hadn't been made yet, but the director, Linda Moore, told The Post that Elsie Whitlow Stokes was committed to their 250 students, in grades kindergarten to sixth. "They learn who's homeless in this country and who's hungry in the world," Moore told The Post. "We emphasize preparation for citizenship. We emphasize increasing students' knowledge of other cultures. We are preparing them to be leaders in the community."

Turning her attention towards giving back, Jenna worked with UNICEF early in her career

While teaching seemed like a great fit for Jenna Bush, she soon turned her attention elsewhere, and as she wrote for Fatherly, Jenna moved to Latin America and became an intern with UNICEF. In her article for Fatherly, Jenna explained that the organization's commitment to protecting and improving the quality of life for families around the world was inspiring, and that while she was in Latin America, she met some incredibly motivational women — "young mothers who, in the face of terrible adversity, were determined to improve their situation and give their kids the best possible start in life," Jenna wrote. 


Jenna's work with UNICEF — which took place while her father, George W. Bush, was still in office — seemed to have an incredible impact on her, as she has maintained her support of UNICEF in her time post-internship. She even became the founding chair of UNICEF Next Generation, and continues to fundraise for the organization. Of her time in Latin America, Jenna wrote for UNICEF's website, "My mother and those mothers taught me how to be a mom. Now I appreciate the importance of giving back and showing compassion even more since I had my own precious daughters."

Jenna's time in Latin America inspired her first book

Jenna Bush's time spent in Latin America inspired her to write a book. As noted by Fatherly, Jenna wrote the book "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," based on the story of a teenage mother who was not only struggling with raising her child but was also battling HIV. The book became a bestseller on The New York Times' list and projected Jenna into a new realm — that of an author. In her first televised interview with Diane Sawyer on "20/20," Jenna expressed what the book meant to her and shared what it was like to hear the real Ana's story. 


"She stood up in front of everybody and she said, 'I want everybody here to know that we're living with HIV/AIDS. We're not dying from it.' The more I got to know her, the more inspired I became," Jenna said of the experience in 2007 (for those of you keeping track, her father, George W. Bush, was closing in on the end of his time in the White House). Speaking about what inspired her to write the book, Jenna shared, "My job for UNICEF was to document the lives of kids living in exclusion, I wanted to make them more than statistics."

She became Jenna Bush Hager in 2008

Perhaps you've noticed, but we've referred to Jenna Bush as just that — Jenna Bush — throughout the telling of her transformation. But now we're up to 2008, the year that Jenna Bush transformed into Jenna Bush Hager after marrying her fiancé, Henry Hager, who is now on the Board of Directors for the Bush Center (per their website). Photos of the couple's big day were presented by People in May 2008, and the newlyweds looked absolutely stunning. 


The ceremony was held at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas, and then-president George W. Bush called it "a joyous occasion" on his weekly radio broadcast. Barbara Bush, Jenna's twin, was her maid of honor, and the whole family stunned in both attire and smiles. On his return to Washington, D.C., George said, "Our little girl, Jenna, married a really good guy. It's all we could have hoped for ... It was just a special day and a wonderful day, and we're mighty blessed." As for the big day, Jenna opted for an "organic and natural" theme and stunned in an embroidered wedding gown from designer Oscar de la Renta.

Jenna Bush Hager joined the ranks of NBC News in 2009

Throughout her well-documented career, Jenna Bush Hager had worked as an elementary school teacher and an intern for UNICEF, and, of course, she worked on the campaign trail with her father. But in 2009, it was announced that she'd be leaving her position as a teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, for a new gig as a Washington, D.C.-based contributing correspondent for NBC News. As noted by the Observer at the time, NBC executives made the announcement, crediting her impressive appearance on NBC's "Today" as contributing factors to her hiring. 


Hager, who got her degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin, was set to "cover a variety of human interest and feature stories," which — given her innate understanding of the culture of the United States — made a lot of sense. Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC's "Today," said of Hager's hiring, "Jenna is a terrific addition to the 'Today' team. In previous appearances, she displayed a natural ability to communicate and connect. She has great passion about important subjects, especially education and literacy, and we look forward to having her bring her unique perspective to 'Today.'"

Jenna and her mom, Laura Bush, teamed up together to write children's books

Jenna Bush Hager's first book, "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," solidified her place as a writer. Shortly thereafter, she and her mother, Laura Bush, teamed up together on a number of projects, one of which was a children's book. As noted by the Bush Center and the book's listing on Amazon, their first book, "Read All About It!" focuses on the story of an elementary student who loves everything about school with one notable exception: reading. The book became a smash hit, and since its release on June 22, 2010, it has received positive reviews and feedback from readers. 


The mother-and-daughter duo must've enjoyed their initial collaboration, because they teamed up again and released another children's book entitled "Our Great Big Backyard," which served as an ode to the National Park Service. Of course, many of us know Hager for working in the media, so it makes sense that she continued to pursue work in the writing world. She went on to write another book with her sister, Barbara Bush, called "Sisters First," which went on to become a New York Times bestseller. The book was later turned into an illustrated children's book, yet again solidifying Hager's place in literature.

Joining Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush became the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's Today

Most of us know Jenna Bush Hager as the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's "Today," which used to be hosted by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. But as noted by "Today," Gifford stepped down in 2019, and it was announced that Hager would replace her. "It feels humbling and I can't believe it," Hager said. "My dad just wrote me three words, which made me weep. He said, 'Very proud dad.' Which I'm like, what is there to be proud about? I'm just drinking wine in the morning!" 


Hager paid her respects to Gifford, who had been on the show for more than a decade. The former first daughter shared that Gifford had been "such a role model" to her and thanked her for being "generous" with her time. "If I can use some of your grace and have a half of what you've done, my life will be a very happy one," Hager said. Gifford didn't just let Hager sing her praises, and she told her that she was going to "have a ball" on the show. For her part, Kotb tweeted that her "heart [was] bursting" and "breaking" for Hager and Gifford, respectively.

Jenna Bush Hager is a mom to three kids

What do parents love just as much (if maybe not a little more) than their kids? It's their grandkids, and Laura Bush and George W. Bush love to spoil Jenna Bush Hager's three children, Henry "Hal" Harold, Poppy Louise, and Margaret "Mila" Laura. That's right, Jenna and her husband, Henry Hager, have welcomed three children, and they celebrated their first holiday season as a family of five in 2019. 


As noted by People, the year marked a significant one for the entire Bush family, as the leaders of the pack — former president George H. W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush — both passed away in 2018. Of course, no one could've expected what 2020 brought to the table, and Jenna revealed while on NBC's "Today" that the holiday season of 2020 marked the first time she had seen her parents — and her kids had seen their grandparents — in more than half a year due to the restrictions set because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I had a little bit of time with my family last week. I got to see my parents for the first time in eight months," Jenna shared.