Jim Olson: A Life Undercover

By Morgan Robertson

This past week, LEAP Ambassadors, Pre-Law Cohort members and LEAP LEADs members ventured to the Woodlands for a World Affairs Council event featuring Jim Olson, former Central Intelligence Agency operative. Attendees included Yvette Mendoza, Jessica Cuevas, Lucy Mccool, Emma Anderson, Erin Juarez, Mario Ocampo, Saara Maknojia, and me.

Upon arriving at the John Cooper School we were shocked by the beauty of the school and admired their layout. Fortunately, we arrived early enough to meet the Program director and many other staff members.

Also, we were able so grateful we had the chance to meet and visit with Mr. James Olson before his presentation, he inquired about our plans after undergrad, and we told him that most of us are planning on applying to law school. Mr. Olson shared with us a little about his time at Iowa University of Law and the difficulties of law school.

After the brief conversation, we found our way to our seats and anxiously waited to hear a few of Mr. Olson’s stories. He was introduced by staff from the John Cooper School and the WAC….

…and we enjoyed our second row seats.

With much of my knowledge about the CIA and other government organizations being from media and tv shows, I was happy to learn from a first-hand source about what it was truly like.

Mr. Olson spoke on many topics ranging from meeting his wife Mrs. Meredith Olson at “work,” to his favorite operations, and officially retiring to accept his current job as a professor at the Bush school.

With every new topic he spoke on, I found myself with even more questions than before.

Toward the end, he took questions from the audience, and two of our questions were selected!

Afterwards, Mr. Olson graciously posed for pictures with SHSU students as well as signed copies of his books with personalized messages.

It is clear Mr. Olson has a passion for meeting and working with students, which in turn, inspires further generations and maybe even operatives.

My favorite aspect of the night was Mr. Olson’s display of pride in his work and in our country. Hearing him speak is enough to leave a listener looking for a signup sheet for the CIA (though that is not the only way to be spotted…).

Genghis Grill

October 5, 2021

Saara Maknojia

As we headed out from the World Affairs Council event with Jim Olson, the LEAP members went to a restaurant specialized in Mongolian cuisine, called Genghis Grill. We were kindly seated by the working staff at the beautifully decorated restaurant. The vivid red and black interior was eye-catching like no other, giving it a very realistic feel of East Asia. The cultural food presented to us was well garnished and customized to each of our likings.

Together as a group, we ordered the Mongolian Dragon Balls which were covered in a delicious chili garlic sauce, as well as the pork and chicken potstickers.

The LEAP members had entrees that all consisted of flavourful bowls of their choice of a base, protein, and amount of eggs. The variety of bases were an assortment of rice and noodles. Students went up to the assembly line where they picked and chose what toppings and meats they would like. The members favorite meats were chicken and steak garnished with the savory teriyaki sauce or the spicy sweet and sour sauce. Genghis Grill allowed us to grasp a better understanding of the cultural foods that are presented from the regions of Mongolia in China.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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