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Roadrunners in Austin: UTSA social work student reflects on Texas-sized internship

Valerie Sullivan and Joe Straus

UTSA student Valerie Sullivan (left) with Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus in his office

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(May 22, 2013) -- Since January, master's student Valerie Sullivan has logged nearly 1,000 hours as an intern in the office of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The experience is helping her build a career in social work.

As an intern on Straus's policy team, Sullivan has been immersed in state public policy strategies, processes and procedures. Her day-to-day duties have been varied and challenging though mainly focused on policy analysis of licensing and administrative procedures. She has attended and reported on committee meetings addressing transportation, homeland security, and defense and veterans affairs. She also attended a state senate hearing on education with testimony by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and met with several Texas leaders including Attorney General Greg Abbott, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and Gov. Rick Perry.

"Every day is different and brings many surprises," said Sullivan. "This placement has given me some amazing opportunities and assisted me with my professional and personal growth. Having the chance to be in a position to assist coalitions, advocacy groups and concerned citizens with their legislative priorities has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

In all, UTSA selected eight students to participate in the 2013 UTSA Legislative Scholars Program, coordinated by the UTSA Honors College and offered by the office of state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon. Interns are selected by demonstrating their commitment to public policy and public service.

In addition to Sullivan, UTSA's other 2013 Legislative Scholars include:

  • Amarro Nelson, a master's student in sociology, interns in the office of Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon;
  • Eliana Briceño, Spanish and sociology double major and legal studies minor, interns in the office of Rep. Dawnna Dukes;
  • Ana Cabrera-M., honors studies major, legal studies minor, and art history and criticism minor, interns in the office of Rep. Senfronia Thompson;
  • Samantha Link, business management major and legal studies minor, interns in the office of Rep. Rob Orr;
  • Corbin Marak, political science major and legal studies minor, interns in the office of Rep. Lois Kolkhorst;
  • Travis Miller, political science major and legal studies minor, interns in the office of Rep. José Menéndez and
  • Alexandra Rosales, criminal justice major and legal studies minor, interns in the office of Rep. Borris Miles.

McClendon and UTSA Development Board member John T. Montford worked collaboratively with UTSA to develop the Legislative Scholars Program in 2004. The scholars earn six hours of internship credit for participating in the program, funded by a generous $25,000 gift from the AT&T Foundation, and a $10,000 stipend during the program's five months to defray their expenses. They are responsible for their own housing, transportation and other expenses during their stay in Austin, where they are required to live to participate in the program.

"This program provides UTSA students with a rich insight into the policy-making procedures and strategies that are shaping Texas today," said Rogelio Saenz, dean of the College of Public Policy. "The public policy experience that these scholars receive as a result of their internships will prove itself invaluable to them as they continue on their career paths."

The 83rd Texas Legislature convened Jan. 8 at the State Capitol in Austin; it adjourns May 27. The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members elected for two-year terms. The Senate includes 31 members. This year, a number of key topics on the session agenda such as transportation, gun control and education funding already have generated statewide headlines.

>> Learn more at the UTSA Legislative Scholars Program and UTSA Honors College websites.

 

 

Events
Feb. 5, 6:15 p.m.

First Friday Stargazing

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy's Curtis Vaughan Observatory will offer free stargazing for the public beginning on top of the 4th floor of the Flawn Science Building. Experienced astronomers will be on hand to show a variety of astronomical objects and answer any questions. This event is free and open to the public, so feel free to invite friends and family.
Curtis Vaughan Observatory

Feb. 6, All Day

10th annual San Antonio Writing Project Teachers' Conference

This year's keynote speaker is Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisper. The event will feature breakout sessions and a presentation by the Creative Writers from North East School of the Arts. The event is free and open to all teachers from Pre-K through university level. Attendees can earn a certificate for 3 hours of Professional Development Credit.
Riklin Auditorium (FS1.406), Downtown Campus

Feb. 9, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 6 - 9 p.m.

Rowdy Gras 2016

The UTSA community is invited to attend the 3rd annual Rowdy Gras celebration! This year Rowdy Gras includes a daytime event from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. with a free food tasting and music on the UC Paseo. The main event takes place from 6 - 9 p.m. in the UC Lawn. The event includes free food, live jazz music, activities and giveaways.
University Center Paseo & Lawn, UTSA Main Campus

Feb. 10, 5:30 p.m.

UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning 2015-16 Speaker Series

The UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning’s 2015-16 Speaker Series continues with Dana Cuff, Ph.D., a professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of California, Los Angeles. In her talk, Cuff will discuss new forms of “studio” and new types of practices. Free and open to the public.
Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BV 1.328), UTSA Downtown Campus

Feb. 13, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

29th annual Asian Festival - Year of the Monkey

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures invites Texas and Texans to the Asian Festival. What began as a traditional family reunion for the Chinese New Year has expanded to include other Asian communities and participants, showcasing their unique culture and traditions.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Feb. 13, 1 p.m.

2016 Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium

Join the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching in celebrating interdisciplinary inquiry at the 2016  Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium.  The colloquium will include a panel of faculty and recent doctoral graduate and a showcase of the best IDS undergraduate inquiry projects of the year 2015. The event is free and open to the public.
Business Building (BB 2.06.04), UTSA Main Campus

Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m.

African-American Social Welfare Pioneers Responding to Community Needs

The UTSA College of Public Policy presents the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey, Professor of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Dr. Iris Carlton LaNey will speak to the UTSA community about the role and impact of African-Americans in the social work profession.
Buena Vista Theater (BV 1.326), Downtown Campus

Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Presentation and Book Signing with Luis Carlos Montalvan

Please join us for a presentation and book signing by Luis Carlos Montalván (Fmr. Capt., USA), author of the New York Times Bestseller Until Tuesday and the international award-winning childrens book Tuesday Tucks Me In. His books will be available for purchase at the UTSA Bookstore. This event is free and open to the public.
Southwest Room (DB 1.124), Downtown Campus

Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

12th Annual Black Heritage Gala

The 12th Annual Black Heritage Gala is a formal event which includes a student performance, keynote remarks by Michael Brown, an award presentation, dinner and dancing. Tickets are $10 for UTSA students and $15 for all other guests. Tickets are on sale now at Roadrunner Express. Contact (210) 458-4770 for more information.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Feb. 27, 9 a.m.

Cultural Contrasts in Latin America

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures will host a free workshop focusing on teaching Latin American culture and geography for students seeking their teacher certification. The workshop includes free resources for teaching Latin American subject matter as well as presentations on language, identity, music, geography, and political and developmental history, and a special educators’ tour of the museum’s Los Tejanos exhibit. Free with registration.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC 3.01.02)


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