As we moved into the third day of our internships in Austin, we remained excited about heading to work in the monumental granite building that symbolizes Texas’s enduring pride–and, for us, symbolizes opportunity. There’s just something about entering the Capitol building and starting work in a legislative office.
Traveling Through Time in Texas
Unlike the other SHSU interns, I had a somewhat different morning planned. I met with Speaker Straus’s staff and some of their interns, and we headed to the Stephen F. Austin building that houses the oldest agency in Texas: the General Land Office (GLO).
After Texas declared its independence in 1836, the GLO was created to determine “who owned what, and where.” This agency was used to end land disputes that were created during the migration to Texas after the Texas Revolution and to determine appropriate land grants to those who had served in the war. During the tour we were exposed to rare documents such as Davy Crockett’s land grant of 1,240 acres that was given to his family after the war. While reading the grant, we noticed a discrepancy in the dates. The document states: “Having served faithfully for the term of six months from the eighth day of January until the sixth day of March”(sic). But, of course, January to March isn’t six months. The discrepancy, we learned, stems from the fact that the office gave the families of those who died “more time” in Texas to ensure they earned more land.
Also of note was the letter William B. Travis wrote while under siege at the Alamo. Addressed to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the world,” Travis made a call for volunteers and promised to fight until “Victory or Death.”
Two other documents that sparked my interest were one of two original drafts of the Texas Constitution…
…and a land patent signed by none other than the man himself, Sam Houston!
Being able to see Sam Houston’s original signature is now the peak of my Bearkat pride.
In this era, the GLO manages state lands, operates the Alamo, helps Texans recovering from natural disasters, helps fund Texas public education through the Permanent School Fund, provides benefits to Texas Veterans, and manages the vast Texas coast and is the home of many original maps of Texas.
Lunch at Frank & Angies
After this interesting tour taking my back in Texas’s history, I, along with Kaitlyn, Megan, Karla and Beatriz had lunch at Frank and Angie’s with Eiman Siddiqui, the current Capitol Director for Representative Galindo and future chief of staff for the newly elected Representative Tom Oliverson, whose alma mater is SHSU!
While we all indulged in a supreme and a veggie pizza, Eiman was able to tell us about his past experiences as an intern at the capitol, a staff member and soon he might even tell us about being a chief of staff! We received invaluable advice from Eiman on what to do and what not to do while being an intern during the legislative session. We impersonated sponges during this conversation, absorbing all the information he had to share. We all appreciated the time that Eiman took out of his day to have lunch with us, and all of the advice that he was kind enough to share in such a short time frame.
It was now time for another exciting change: at the official half-way mark of the week, we all (except for Beatriz) switched offices. Our switches included:
- Megan going from Representative Zerwas to Rep. Hunter’s Office
- Kaitlyn going from Senator Kolkhorst to Senator Schwertner’s Office
- Karla going from Senator Schwertner’s Office to Representative Zerwas’s Office
- And me going from Representative Hunter’s office to Senator Kolkhorst’s office.
Having met her on a couple of occasions, I was looking forward to this experience.
I was given a tour as part of my orientation, and it was immediately clear that Senate offices are larger. After this short introduction, I was given the office manual, a newsletter sent by Senator Kolkhorst to her constituents, a packet covering intern duties, and a 15-minute new employee video to watch.
I learned more about Senator Kolkhorst, my duties, and how the office and the senate work. Also, I learned more about a hearing that takes place tomorrow, one that Senator Kolkhorst will attend!
Although summer is a slow time in the legislature, I helped greet two groups of students (one elementary, one high school) who stopped by to speak with staff, became acquainted with the staff, and learned the office equipment: phones, copiers, scanners, faxes, and printers.
It was an educational and productive day, one I hope lays the foundation for many more to come!