The Sam Houston Austin Internship Program began in 2013, an initiative of President Dana Hoyt. Since that time, SHSU has built a strong reputation in the legislature for placing quality students. This year is no different, with ten students placed in Austin (plus two more in Washington, DC). The placements are below:
Brian Aldaco: Rep. Will Metcalf
Spencer Copeland: Rep. Larry Phillips
Alejandra Galvan: Senator Lois Kolkhorst
Beatriz Martinez: Rep. Armando Martinez
Vincent Melore: Rep. Tom Oliverson
Christina Perez: Rep. Jim Murphy
Kimberly Roach: Texas Association of Counties
Karla Rosales: Rep. John Zerwas
Mitchell Sanchez: Rep. Todd Hunter
Kaitlyn Tyra: Senator Charles Schwertner
In addition, five of the eight interns from last session have been hired by the legislature and are now working the session, as well.
Sadie McLaughlin (District Director): Rep. Ernest Bailes
Alexis Gonzales (Legislative Director): Rep. Vo
Ariel Leaf (District Representative): Senator Charles Schwertner
Oscar Aguilar (Legislative Associate): Rep. Mary Ann Perez
Shelby O’Brien (Legislative Director): Rep. Todd Hunter
We were fortunate this past Saturday to have the current interns and many of the program’s alumni on hand for a lunch at the Balkans Cafe and Grill. It was a great opportunity to see friends, develop mentorships, and have great food!
The LEAP Center brought students to the Annenberg Conference Center at the Bush Presidential Library to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Among those on hand was Dr. Jeffrey Engel, Director of SMU’s Director of the Presidential History Center. Although Dr. Engel is a distinguished scholar, he was not the most distinguished person in the room. Within a dozen feet of the students sat former Bush (43) Chief of Staff Andy Card, former Bush (41) National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, Barbara Bush, and President George H. W. Bush.
President Bush received an award for his work in promoting freedom throughout the world…
…and the LEAP Center students received the treat of being in close of proximity of former President Bush.
Although she’s been to numerous Bush Presidential Library events, it was the first time Jessica Rodriguez has seen President Bush. “It was so nice to be able to see him. It was particularly nice to have a lecture on presidential history while sitting next to one of history’s makers. I enjoyed it very much.”
It was the fifth president Rodriguez has met while at SHSU while participating in LEAP Center events.
In a country in which bi-partisanship is in short supply, Sam Houston students got a lesson in working together from several long-time politicos and public servants: Democrat David Axelrod, Republican Andy Card, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
This cooperative spirit was kicked off with introductions by Ambassador Crocker, who knows something about bi-partisanship after serving as an Ambassador to six different countries under Presidents Bush (the elder), Clinton, Bush (the younger), and Obama. Setting the tone, Crocker introduced and praised two long-time politicos: David Axelrod, the long-time journalist and political operative who served as a Senior Advisor to President Obama; and Andy Card, who served in the White House with Ronald Reagan and both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Andy Card is perhaps best known for the iconic photo from September 11, 2001, in which he is seen whispering into President Bush’s ear, telling him that second plane had hit the twin towers in New York.
Apart from Card’s service to various Presidents, he also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Being a Republican in Massachusetts will teach a person the importance of bipartisanship, and it’s a spirit he celebrated as the acting Dean of the Bush School of Public Service. He praised Axelrod’s public service, noting that he had “answered the noble call of public service and has produced results that made a difference.” Card also directed his comments to young people, encouraging them to follow Axelrod’s example, by “developing an understanding of the role of public service and being well prepared to answer that call.”
Axelrod got most of the speaking time, and he, too, adopted a bi-partisan spirit. He praised George H. W. Bush for his “honesty and decency;” lauded George W. Bush for his handling of the presidential transition as a “great patriot;” and complimented Andy Card for his long public service.
Axelrod recounted various challenges in the Obama White House, alternating between sharing sobering moments and offering humorous asides. He itemized gloomy reports from the Obama team’s first few days in office: (1) intelligence reports suggesting a serious terrorist threat on Inauguration Day, (2) economic reports hinting at a one in three chance at drifting into a Great Depression, (3) opposition to unpopular policies such as the Auto Bailout and TARP, and (4) having to deal with Somali pirates shortly. It was enough, Axelrod noted, for him to leave these early meetings and check into whether the winner of a Presidential election “could demand a recount.”
As Obama’s leading political advisor, Axelrod’s job was to provide the polling data to Obama and advise him of the political implications of policy issues. Axelrod praised the President for sticking to his platform and “listening to his polls so little.” On one occasion relating to a particularly thorny policy issue, the President asked, “Can we pass the bill?” When he was told it depended how lucky he felt, the President responded, “I’m a black man named Barack Obama, and I am President of the United States. I feel lucky every day!”
Axelrod was at his most inspirational, however, when speaking directly to the students and encouraging them to remain involved in public service. “Our politics have taken a very bad turn, but the answer is for more public-spirited young people to get in there and put it in the right direction. These young people have already made the decision to be public servants, and they are a source of great hope. I hope they will march forward and help shape the world in a way that makes us all proud.”