Source: Tiffany Trump/Instagram
July 20, 2016 10:25 AM

After years of living life out of the spotlight, Tiffany Trump has officially burst onto the national stage.

The 22-year-old daughter of Donald Trump and his ex-wife Marla Maples spoke proudly of her father during night two of the Republican National Convention, on Tuesday, marking her biggest campaign moment to date.

Tiffany, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, was a natural in front of an audience – despite her relatively private upbringing. Speaking to PEOPLE in March, Tiffany opened up about life as one of the Donald’s children and cultivating her dreams with mom Maples in Calabasas.

“Growing up in California, we were always together, driving me to school, carpooling, singing songs, dancing around, me making fun of her dance moves,” Tiffany said, adding that she went to high school in the Los Angeles-adjacent city – which is also home to another famous family. “[We knew the Kardashians] like a little a bit. My mom was friends with Kris, of course, and she’s amazing. We lived there before the show even started.”

In fact, Tiffany is the same age as the oldest Jenner sister, Kendall Jenner, and said that they went to school nearby each other. Of the girls, she said, “They were best friends with a friend of mine from my high school.”

Unlike the Jenner women, however, Tiffany’s mother shielded her from fame throughout her youth.

Tiffany Trump
Source: Tiffany Trump/Instagram

“She moved us out of New York to get out of the spotlight and let me grow up and find my own identity versus being in the shadow of a name or growing up very young with all that pressure,” Tiffany said. “So, she wanted me to have a chance to have a normal childhood. As normal as possible. I think that she did well in that.”

Tiffany cultivated “amazing” friendships, she said, and was able to ground herself in the “good values” of Maples. Values she used on the volleyball and basketball court, and soccer field. Further, she found a passion for art and drawing – namely, fashion sketches, which later led to internships at places like Vogue.

And although dad was across the country, they met up for holidays and spring breaks. The distance, she said, didn’t strain their relationship. “He was always just the most funniest, loving father and just ‘Do good in school, Tiff.’ ”

From left: Marla Maples, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump
Catherine McGann/Getty

Despite a decidedly low-key lifestyle, though, Tiffany told PEOPLE that there was “always” media attention. “It comes with the territory,” she admitted. “I think obviously it is not at the level that it is now, of course. But, I’ve always had it because when you do have a famous last name, people are interested in seeing what’s going on behind the scenes.”

Even with moderate public scrutiny, however, Tiffany has never been above McDonald’s french fries (shared only with Donald, she said – Maples is a health nut) and flying coach.

Tiffany Trump
Source: Tiffany Trump/Instagram

Balancing school studies with campaigning, wasn’t easy, though. With the more hectic schedule behind her now that she’s gotten her degree, she’ll prep for the LSAT in hopes to head to law school within the next few years.

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“I’m really interested in fashion and technology and kind of just want to be at a place that’s innovative and new, where I can actually implement change and have a voice,” Tiffany shared. “We’ll see what I find.”

She’s also cultivated quite the following on Instagram, showing off her stylish wardrobe and adventures with friends like Harry and Peter Brandt (the sons of model Stephanie Seymour), Andrew Warren (the son of a New York real estate investor), and EJ Johnson (the son of Magic Johnson).

Tiffany Trump
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Maybe those associations have helped her prepare for the scrutiny that comes with being a presidential candidate’s daughter, as she told PEOPLE she’s ready for “life changes.”

“I think every day you wake up and you do the best you can do that day,” she explained.

For right now, though, Donald is just Tiffany’s “amazing father.”

“Hopefully I’ve made him proud,” she said. “I think I have.”

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