On June 13, 2016 Alex Galvan, Kaitlyn Tyra, Megan Chapa, Karla Rosales, and I headed into the Capitol for our first day as Austin interns.
Unlike the rest of the SHSU students, however, this was my first time in Austin, and I could not help but look in awe at the marvelous building I would be working in for the week. As we got further inside, I stood on top of the terrazzo floor tiles forming the six seals of the six nations that had governed Texas…
and I stood looking up at the dome.
I spun in a circle and all around me I saw portraits of governors.
Looking further up, I noticed that every floor had various portraits all around the rotunda and at the very top was a star painted on the dome. With the sun shining through the windows all around me, I hoped it was a premonition of the day ahead and that the wonder would be only a taste compared to the amazing things I would later discover.
As soon as I entered through the door of Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez’s office, I was cheerfully greeted by his Chief of Staff, Scott Jenkines. Mr. Jenkines made me feel right at home as he explained the expectations and rules of the office. With Mr. Jenkines being from Weslaco, we reminisced about the Rio Grande Valley, and discussed the many issues the people there were facing, as well as different possibilities that Representative Martinez was trying to implement to try and help these issues get fixed.
To start off the day, Mr. Jenkines led me through the maze that was the Capitol and took me to get my photograph taken for my ID. He also offered a quick tour and, again, my head spun round and round, as we took turn after turn, leading me deeper and deeper into the Capitol. I was shown where the Capitol Grille was, the place to go when anyone inside was hungry; we passed by the post office (grabbing the mail in the process); and we saw the different committee offices, especially Transportation and Higher Education, which are two of the committees Representative Martinez is heavily involved in.
The House of Representatives, where Representative Martinez votes, was closed for renovation, but the Senate Gallery was open and splendid!
One of the most interesting things I learned about the Capitol was the process of hanging the governors’ portraits. Heading back, Mr. Jenkines explained that when a new governor’s portrait was added (only after they leave office), each of the portraits has to be moved exactly one spot backwards, meaning every single portrait has to be removed and rehung.
At another stop on the tour, we visited the library, almost directly beneath Representative Martinez’s office. On the library walls are paintings of the judges. One stood out: The Portrait of the Unknown Judge.
It is interesting that an unknown judge could make it on to the wall of the capitol and yet not have anything known about him.
Once I got back to the office, I got to meet Jack Walls, a Baylor intern who is also be interning at Representative Martinez’s office. He showed me the basics of the typical office day for an intern: answering phone calls, navigating the computer system, and communicating with people. Then I was left to my own devices so that I could read and learn more in depth about bills, statutes, and committees.
Later in the day, Mr. Jenkines received a call that my ID was ready. As we were heading back up to the office I got to show off my brand new name tag.
Later, still, I would get a nameplate, just like a real employee!
At the office, Mr. Jenkines mentioned a leadership program called “Subiendo”. This program was aimed at high-school students so that they can gain leadership skills during a training in which they can learn about and address different issues going on in the real world today. This event takes place on Wednesday, and I will have the chance to go along as part of the Representative Martinez team.
At the end of the day, Professor Yawn took us to a vegetarian restaurant called Mother’s. We were greeted by Blake Roach, Melva Gomez, and Emily Johnson who were alumni and part of the Junior Fellows when they were at SHSU. Everyone relaxed and spent a pleasant evening in this quaint little restaurant. We were all a bit thrown off by the lack of meat (Vegetarian isn’t big in the Valley), but it was an interesting experience to see the wonderfully creative recipes they had instead. I had the plate called Momma’s Quiche. We left after various elaborated talks of the past memories and the new ones being created.
It was a special day, one made so by my boss, Scott Jenkines; and by Megan Chapa and Alejandra Galvan, who made a trip to the Valley to take me to Austin; and the opportunities that come with being an SHSU student.
Beatriz Martinez is finishing her first year at SHSU. She is eighteen-years old but, amazingly, has completed 100 hours, compiling a cumulative GPA of 3.90 (and a 4.0 at SHSU). She is the youngest of the LEAP Ambassadors.