Austin Interns Work Hard, Have Fun

Sam Houston State University’s Austin Internship Program, run by the LEAP Center, is off to a rollicking start.

After undergoing orientation training from the crack staff in HR and Career Services, the eight Austin Interns–Oscar Aguilar, Jessica Rodriguez, Lexi Gonzales, Sadie McLaughlin, Ariel Traub, Lupe Cuellar, Shelby O’brien, and Sarah Landsman–underwent an orientation in Austin, Texas.  The event was to start with a Segway tour of Austin, but with freezing rain in the forecast, we switched quickly to an iFLY tour.  It wasn’t a tour so much, but it was a fun way to start the day.

The day began with an orientation on iFLY’s unique flight system, which evoked some anxiety while also bringing smiles.


But it was the flights that brought the big smiles.   iFLY doesn’t provide a long time in the air, but it’s a lot of fun.  Some of us were better than others, but all had a good time, or at least were glad they tried.

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The flights also provide that wind-blown look that is so flattering, perfectly complementing the smart flight suits.


Following the adrenaline rush of iFly, we moved to Quack’s Bakery on 43rd for a caffeine rush and some pastries.  For those who haven’t tried this mid-town delight, it’s definitely worth it.  Try the ginger crinkle cookies or the chocolate ginger; you can’t go wrong.


There was also some good conversation, with equal measure astonishment, disbelief, and delight.


But, mostly, it was about the cupcakes.


Armed with coffee and sugar, we embarked to the 2nd Bar + Kitchen, where we met Blake Roach, Emily Johnson, President Hoyt, and her husband John Hoyt.

It was an enjoyable time for everyone, and we were very impressed and honored that Mr. Hoyt and President Hoyt drove in to spend time with us.  It’s a reflection of the support we’ve received since we started this 140 day Austin odyssey.

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It was a great group outing, which we ended with a great group photo!


With the fun over, we prepared for our professional photographs in the capitol building.   Of course, we couldn’t go to the Capitol without getting a photo alongside Elizabet Ney’s statue of Sam Houston…


But that was just one of many of our stops.  We also stopped in the extension, looking up at the Capitol dome…




…in the House of Representatives’ chamber in front of the podium…


…and individual shots of us, with Sam Houston looking over our shoulder.

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Indeed, these photographs with Sam Houston’s portrait on the wall serve as a kind of a metaphor for our time thus far.  We have lots of family, friends, and University officials looking out for us, and ensuring we have a great time and learn a whole lot–even while dealing with dangerous flying missions and firearms!

On behalf of all the Austin Interns, we’d like to thank Paul Olle for the great photographs, President Hoyt for this wonderful opportunity, SHSU for supporting its students, and the following legislative offices:

Representative Senfronia Thompson (Jessica Rodriguez)
Senator Charles Schwertner (Ariel Traub)
Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez (Lexi Gonzales)
Representative Ron Simmons (Sarah Landsman)
Representative Todd Hunter (Shelby O’Brien)
Representative John Otto (Sadie McLaughlin)
Representative Carol Alvarado (Oscar Aguilar)
Representative Will Metcalf (Lupe Cuellar)

LEAP Center Students Explore International Careers: FBI, NASA, State, Pangea


LEAP Center Students had a great chance to explore international careers as they met with representatives from the State Department, NASA, FBI, and the non-profit organization Pangea.  It was a rare chance to get face time with representatives from these groups, and the LEAP Center students were the only college students on hand to take advantage of this opportunity.


Although the students knew much about opportunities with the FBI and the State Department, the students were exposed for the first time to the work of Pangea, which provides resources to women  in developing countries.  And while the students were familiar with NASA, they hadn’t thought of NASA as an international career option.  But after hearing of their hiring practices and the International Space Station, we realized that NASA was not only Interstellar, but also International!

SHSU Students Listen to NASA's Grier Wilt
SHSU Students Listen to NASA’s Grier Wilt

Students received numerous tips for how to achieve a career in international affairs, including:

  • Make good grades
  • Learn about another culture, by studying abroad, if possible
  • Learn a second language
  • Do internships, particularly those with international connections
  • An advanced degree is preferred but not necessary

Happily, these tips fit right into the LEAP Center’s mission, which is to broaden horizons, stress academics, and gain internships in the professional world.

The students spent the bulk of their time with the always generous John Roberts, from the State Department…

John Roberts & LEAP Center Students
John Roberts & LEAP Center Students

…who amplified on these tips, and encouraged the students to apply to the State Department.  In fact, he discussed the possibility of coming to SHSU with the hopes of following up and recruiting additional students!

John Roberts with LEAP Center Students