Public service is the common mission of 10 University of Houston students bound for Washington, D.C. as members of the Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP) 2016 Leland Fellows program. They’ll spend the spring semester working the offices of Texas congressional members, gaining first-hand knowledge of the legislative process.
“I am ecstatic to gain this experience,” said Bryan Peláez, a senior psychology and political science major who aims one day to represent Houston constituents as a public servant. He will be working in the office of Congressman Pete Olson. “I want to absorb as much knowledge as possible, whether answering constituents’ calls or giving tours of our great nation’s capital. The purpose of this mission is to gain exposure in my field, and I fully intend to make the most of it.”
The 10 Leland Fellows all have been involved in volunteer experiences either on campus, in their communities, with their places of worship or through other civic internships and projects with the HCPP.
“It means the world to me to further the legacy of Mickey Leland,” said Mariah Grayson, a junior political science major whose plans include law school and later serving as a judge. “Congressman Leland was not only a great humanitarian, he was such an influential man that people to this day still recognize what he has done for the community. I am proud to be a Leland Fellow.” She will work in the office of Congressman Mark Veasey.
The 2016 Leland Fellows also include:
• Auruba Al-Zibdeh, a junior political science major who plans to attend law school and work on humanitarian causes, will be working in the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.
• Mary Davis, a senior political science major who dreams of working in the Texas legislature, will be working in the office of Congressman Brian Babin.
• Jon Garcia, a senior political science major who aims to increase voter turnout and work in the Department of Education, will be working in the office of Congressman Ruben Hinojosa.
• Daniel Gribble, a senior political science major whose future includes law school and service in government, will be working in the office of Congressman Ted Poe.
• Taylor Hicks, a senior psychology major who wants to practice law as an advocate for education reform, will be working in the office of Congressman Al Green.
• William Janowski, a senior political science major and Army veteran planning to earn a master of public policy degree as well as a law degree, will be working in the office of Congressman Gene Green.
• Ana Montanez, a senior political science major whose volunteer experiences prompt her to pursue a career in public service, will be working in the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar.
• Madelyn Wilson, a junior political science and public relations major whose dream job is to become a chief-of-staff, will be working in the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
“The students selected to be Leland Fellows are answering a call to public service,” said Renée Cross, associate director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy and director of the Leland Fellows program. “Studying the legislative process, participating in meetings and events and conducting research in their legislator’s office will build on their desire to impact the community in a meaningful way.”
To be considered for the program, applicants must show achievement in academics, writing ability, communication skills and community service. The Leland Fellows program provides a monthly stipend, paid housing and round-trip airfare to the nation’s capital, where they’ll work 40 hours a week in their lawmakers’ offices. They’ll also complete academic assignments for upper level credit in political science.