As has been SHSU’s tradition, every legislative session the LEAP Center finds exemplary students to intern at the capitol with the state legislators. From a week of mid-terms to a weekend of new legislative terms, the LEAP students traveled to Austin to tour the capital, interview in legislative offices, and explore the rest of the city.
Interviews, by Vincent Melore
It was six o’clock in the morning when we LEAPed out of bed, awaiting the opportunity of a life time. Donning our newly pressed suits, we eagerly anticipated the ride to the capitol, where we would interview with three staff members representing various legislative candidates. When we arrived at the front gates of the capitol we were struck with awe. Magnificent coal black gates surrounded a structure like no other in the state of Texas. The capitol, dressed with genuine Texas red granite and topped with the gorgeous guardian of liberty, was truly a testament to all the opportunities that Texas provides.
Soon after the group arrived at the capitol, we interviewed staffers from numerous offices including: Benjamin Williams, Director of Administration for Representative Jim Murphy; Eiman Siddiqui, future chief of staff for Representative-elect Tom Oliverson; and Nick Raymond, future chief of staff for Representative-elect Ernest Bailes. The interviews were indeed a learning experience as potential Austin interns Vincent Melore, Christina Perez, and Isabela Gonzalez were interviewed simultaneously for their first interview of the morning. During the interview, the group was asked typical interview questions, hypothetical interview questions, and some questions that seemed unusual but were used to get an understanding of our unique personalities and whether or not they would fit well in their offices.
As we continued interviewing throughout the day, we also toured through a few of the offices to gain a feel for the environment and expectations of each office (just in case we get placed). We soon understood how important it would be to maintain a professional and positive attitude. As the frontline of the representative’s office we would be responsible for ensuring the integrity and security of that office. Although we all knew we would be in for the workload of a lifetime, this in no way stifled our determination and drive to serve the legislature.
Site-Seeing, by Victoria McClendon-Leggett
Meanwhile, with a muggy and dull sky, LEAP students without impending interviews began their day differently. As we poured out of the van, we filed through the gates and paused as we took a moment to gaze up at the Texas State Capitol. “I’m going to go park. Will you see about getting a tour?” Professor Yawn said to Beatriz. She turned on her heels and began to lead the group towards the edifice that towered in front of them. The façade looked almost pink in contrast to the grey sky. The building was a beautiful example of the renaissance revival style. The walls were smooth, polished red marble. Columns surrounded the rotunda that rose high above the rest of the building, and all around it the pediments of each individual wing came to form four separate peaks.
Some of the students had been here before, but we were all just as mesmerized by the ornate capitol details surrounding us. While waiting for the next tour to start we had time to admire the general splendor. The floor was terrazzo marble that somehow managed to gleam in what little light from outside had found its way in through the 900+ windows that functionally adorn the Capitol building. Professor Yawn eventually joined us and we followed the tour guide as he ushered us up wrought iron staircases, down hallways with more than twenty identical doorways, and past portraits of former Texas governors.
The tour itself lasted only about forty minutes, and then afterwards the group had to go their separate ways. Some had interviews for prospective internships, some had already landed their internships and simply wanted to visit different offices…
and some were left to amuse themselves for the day. Eventually, we all made our way through the winding halls and tunnels of the capitol and regrouped at the Reference Library before going to lunch.
Food, by Christina Perez
After an adventurous morning at the capitol, we headed to Frank and Angie’s Pizzeria. The options for pizza pies seemed endless. The first suggestion was pepperoni, but we all decided that we should explore different options. After a vote across the table, we decided to order the “Chairman of the Board” which was Frank Sinatra’s nickname after he founded Reprise Records in 1960. We also decided to try “white pizza.” This take on pizza strays away from the path of familiarity for some of us as the tomato sauce is replaced with alfredo. In true Austin spirit, we embraced the change and decided to go for the strange. While enjoying the delicious pizza pies, with expressive eyes we discussed how we could see of the town. Eventually we figured out the best routes through the city that would take us through housing options for the spring.
More Food, Brian Aldaco
Tired of looking through countless apartment complexes, a bit weary from the costly Austin living, we found it apt to unwind with a visit to the ever favorite Clay Pit. From the Guadalupe St rumbling echoes of traffic, we crossed into the cozy, calm Indian cuisine restaurant. As we were seated, the spicy aromas which filled the air prompted us to get ready for this trip down savory lane. As their eyes met the different menu items, students who had never been to an Indian restaurant looked perplexed, perhaps even frightened. Items such as Goat Curry, Lamb Roganjosh, Boti Kabab, (whose pronunciation was just as ambiguous as its ingredients) were met with curiosity but ordered nonetheless.
For dessert, we agreed on the savory treat of creme-brulee, Gulab Jamun, and the Hot and Cold Love (a unique combination of vanilla ice-cream and specially prepared carrot puree). After hearty conversation, good food, and a couple of table mishaps here and there…
…we managed to get off our seats and take a night walk through UT Campus and the Capitol.
We strolled through the city until we reached the UT Campus. As we neared the glowing UT Tower, we surveyed the South lookout from our viewpoint.
Standing on that pebbled ground we stayed contemplating at the bright vista of a very beautiful Texas Capitol dome. Night crawling through more of Austin we re-visited the State Capitol and pensively strolled down the perimeter of the legislative building.
With a day full of weary and a tomorrow full of mystery, it was nice to walk worry free, soaking in the pleasant moon glow and shine from our Texas seal. Our little weekend adventure had come to its end.
With a drive back to Huntsville in the morning, we took our last glances of the capitol, gave our last sighs, and agreed on how pleasant the day as a whole had been. Even though nerves ran high, and results are yet to be seen, at least we got to spend an adventurous day at Austin with great friends.