Ann Eisenberg (second from right), Honors College associate dean, with UTSA
Archer Fellowship interns (from left) Robin McIllhenny, Lucy Panoyan,
Rawan Arar, Anthony Walker, Melissa Ruiz and Crystal Villarreal
(Photo by Mark McClendon)
UTSA students land high-profile D.C. internships
By Rudy Arispe
Sspecial Projects Writer
(June 25, 2008)--As part of her Archer Fellowship internship at ABC's "Good Morning America," Melissa Ruiz was assigned the enviable task of co-producing a news segment, "Stealing You," about identity theft, a segment that aired nationally on "World News."
Lucy Panoyan researched and drafted a regulation regarding medical spas while interning with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Rawan Arar assisted with managerial duties in the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
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From internships at "Good Morning America" and the U.S. Department of Health to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the office of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, UTSA students are gaining first-hand experience, as well as a national perspective of the issues and policies set forth in our nation's capital.
The Bill Archer Fellowship was established by the University of Texas System in conjunction with former U.S. Rep. Bill Archer to bring undergraduate students from University of Texas campuses to Washington, D.C., to participate in internships and take classes in policy, economics and persuasion, according to the Archer Center Web site. At UTSA, the Archer Fellowship application process is managed by the Honors College.
"The idea underlying this program is to bring Texas students to Washington so they have a better understanding of national government and policy. Then they can either bring those skills back to Texas or use those skills to help move Texas to a national and global level," said Ann Eisenberg, associate dean of the Honors College and UTSA Archer Fellowship coordinator.
Students work 30 to 40 hours per week at their internships and take evening classes at the Archer Center. "The center is very clear that the internships must involve more than making coffee or filing," Eisenberg said. "Students really have a chance to observe how policy gets made and how public affairs work."
Another bonus, the Web site states, is that students make and maintain social and professional contacts that could lead to other internship opportunities or employment after college graduation.
Ruiz, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in communication, hopes to land a job as a news reporter at a local TV station. During spring break, she left Washington, D.C., to work in the ABC studio in New York and met Diane Sawyer and John Quinones, among other well-known news anchors.
"All of them said to be ready for rejection, but it's OK, and John Quinones told me to be proud of my culture because it's a unique perspective I can bring to a story," she said.
Panoyan, a biology and pre-med major who also graduated this year, will attend the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in August. However, she says that her internship with the Department of Health has led to her interest in wanting to obtain a law degree and medical degree, especially after her internship required her to survey all 50 states to find out what each is doing to regulate medical spas.
"I had to put together a presentation and drafted regulation," Panoyan says. "It's great to know something I did is going to be part of D.C. regulation. I definitely want to be involved in some type of law or politics."
Arar, a Jordan native who graduated with a sociology degree, plans to become a human rights lawyer, and would first like to live in the Middle East for a year to study conflict resolution. "It was truly inspiring to see justice in action, and I think law is one of the key avenues to promote social justice," she said.
Other recent UTSA Archer Fellowship alumni are Anthony Walker, a senior political science major, who interned in the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; Robin McIlhenny, a history major who worked in the office of Rep. Ciro Rodriguez; and Crystal Villarreal, a marketing and publications intern with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute who now attends Syracuse University Law School.