By Kaitlyn Tyra,
Today was the last day of the New Leadership Texas, and in preparation for our mock committee hearing, the group’s energy level started out remarkably elevated this morning. As usual, everyone met for breakfast in the eating hall where we discussed the day’s plans and our feelings about the end of the conference before tackling the day.
Our major session of the day focused on our political action project over House Bill 5. Throughout the week, we have been preparing to reenact the House committee meeting discussing HB5. Each participant was assigned to represent a member of the committee, a member of the press, or a constituent who testified during the committee hearing. I was assigned to portray Representative Mike Villarreal, a member of the Public Education Committee during the 2013 legislative session and a co-author of HB5. As a committee member, it was my responsibility to ask questions of those testifying in order to make an informed decision when deciding my vote.
It was intriguing to listen to the various experts, and constituents testify to explain and defend their views on HB5. After listening to all the constituents, the committee voted with a 7-4 vote in favor of HB5. If our committee was part of the real Texas Legislature, HB5 would proceed to the House floor to be voted on by the House of Representatives. By participating in a mock committee hearing, it contributed to a better understanding of the process and what being on a committee truly encompasses.
During our last meal as NLT participants, the conversation boomed while participants reflected on their experiences and future plans to run for office. Our group of participants were diverse yet still encouraged each other’s political and career aspirations.
Our final panel discussion consisted of emerging leaders of the next generation. These women were able to give us their wisdom and advice on how to be successful at a young age. Ashley Goudeau, a reporter from KVUE News and SHSU alum, encouraged us to “stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.”
Similarly, Ashley Bliss-Herrera, Assistant Director of Research and Policy, Office of Vice President Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin, encouraged us to reach out to potential mentors and role models. In addition, the panel discussed taking time to refresh in order to take care of your health. This was an important reminder as it was not discussed in previous panel discussions. As college students, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of balancing school, work, and extracurricular activities. It was helpful to hear how each of these successful women schedule time into their day to exercise and stay active. More personal, it was a positive session to end NLT.
Graduation and faculty-in-residence farewell ended our time at NLT. Reflecting back on our eventful week, we learned an immense about ourselves, our leadership styles, how to impact our community, and how to successfully run for elected office. The program allowed us to meet many women from around the state of Texas who have similar aspirations as we do, which was a pleasant experience. For imparting their knowledge and wisdom, thank you to the faculty-in-residence: Nancy Bocskor, Mavis Knight, and Ryane Ridenour. In addition, thank you to Dr. Ewert, NLT Program Coordinator for organizing this wonderful program. Lastly, many thanks to the SHSU Political Science Department and the LEAP Center for sponsoring Megan Chapa and me to represent Sam Houston State University for the first time at New Leadership Texas.