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Harris Fellows 2024

Left to Right: Alyssa Vaughan, Chinwe Nwaeze, Miguel Medina, Alexia Aguilar, Micah Erfan, Juliana Hernandez and Milan Sam


The newest Harris Fellows are assigned to Harris County offices as full-time interns to support various county government operations over the summer. The fourth cohort of undergraduates and post-baccalaureates will develop their public service experience through meaningful work on constituent services, research, policy analysis, communications, community outreach and special projects while building professional networks.


alexia-aguliarAlexia Aguilar
Post-baccalaureate, Sociology
Office of Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, Communications and Outreach Division

Alexia Aguilar is a first-generation graduate from the Jack J. Valenti School of Communications with a degree in public relations and double minor in energy and sustainability and public leadership. Aguilar served as the president of the UH Public Relations Student Society of America.

She was a member of the Hobby School’s undergraduate student advisory council and Next Generation Leadership Academy, a national initiative from The Volcker Alliance to train undergraduates for public service. Through the Hobby School, Aguilar was a Civic Houston Intern at the office of Houston City Councilmember Edward Pollard in the spring of 2023 and with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the fall of 2023. She also took on an independent internship with Outreach Strategists, a public affairs consulting firm, in the summer of 2023. She received academic and public service scholarships, including the 2023 Paul A. Volcker Internship Award.

I collaborate with the other interns throughout the day on communications projects or assist them. I have thoroughly enjoyed looking through the communications inbox and responding to constituent emails. They can be fun and challenging. Solutions aren't always a quick search or a simple fix. Sometimes, they require me to research and do more of a deeper dive. 


micah-erfanMicah Erfan
Junior, Economics
Office of Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Community Affairs and Advocacy Team

Micah Erfan is a junior majoring in economics with a minor in public leadership. Erfan’s experience as a Civic Houston Intern in the office of Texas state Sen. Carol Alvarado in the spring of 2024 and with a Houston City Council political campaign in the fall of 2023 contributed to his policy analysis and communications skills. In the summer of 2023, Erfan worked as a program consultant at the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation through the Social Economy and Enterprise Academy, where he researched lease purchase programs to increase homeownership in Harris County. 

Erfan’s passion lies in empowering the next generation of leaders through voter education, grassroots organizing and civic engagement opportunities. He has worked on a benzene emission study in Channelview, Texas, advocated for ordinance changes to improve livability in urban neighborhoods and analyzed regional transportation policy. He lends his time and efforts to the UH Student Government Association, advocacy organizations, such as Students for Progress and Strong Towns Houston, and local political candidates.

As part of the community affairs and advocacy team in Harris County Precinct 1, each day is a new adventure. I frequently get the opportunity to attend community events, festivals and conferences and help shape important projects the precinct is working on. My most memorable experience was attending a community meeting in the historic Sunnyside neighborhood. This neighborhood is rich in history and culture but has struggled with poverty, crime and displacement. Hearing stories about people's daily struggles and the things people in the community are doing to solve their problems was eye-opening and inspiring. 


juliana-hernandezJuliana Hernandez
Senior, Public Policy and Political Science
Harris County Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity

Juliana Hernandez is a senior double majoring in public policy and political science. Hernandez is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, a global honors society for public affairs and administration students. She started her public service journey through a summer internship with the office of Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones in 2023, where she focused on serving constituents through programs and activities at community centers within the precinct.

Hernandez deepened her passion for public service through her interdisciplinary coursework at the Hobby School and as a Civic Houston Intern in the district office of U.S. Rep Sylvia Garcia, where she harnessed her customer service skills and background to assist constituents with various issues. Hernandez is active on campus as an officer with the UH League of United Latin American Citizens. She gives back to her community through volunteering and as a leader in her local civic club.

“A typical day at work involves policy research and writing at my desk. During meetings, I present my projects to my team and supervisors. My most notable project has been researching and writing policy memos for the Early Childhood Initiatives programs that support children and their families across Harris County.” 


miguel-medinaMiguel Medina
Junior, Political Science
Office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Policy Team

Miguel Medina is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in public leadership. Medina’s interest in the inner workings of local government and a career in public service started at an early age following a tour of City Hall. Medina relocated to Houston and enrolled in the University of Houston after working as a diesel technician in California.

The aspiring public servant is part of the second Next Generation Leadership Academy cohort, a collaborative initiative from The Volcker Alliance that inspires and prepares students from diverse backgrounds to serve their communities. The Harris Fellows selection follows an assignment in the Harris County Clerk’s Office in the spring of 2023 through the Civic Houston Internship Program, an independent internship with the office of Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia in the summer of 2023 and volunteer opportunities addressing food insecurity and farming sustainability.

"As an intern for the policy team, I have gained a deeper understanding of local government by working on the Commissioners Court agenda, providing research data and attending various presentations on county governance. The policy team's efforts have helped me grasp the impact of the Commissioners Court on Harris County residents. I have new connections and clarified the line of work I intend to pursue as a future public servant." 


chinwe-nwaezeChinwe Nwaeze
Senior, Political Science and Philosophy
Office of Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Policy Team

Chinwe Nwaeze is a senior double majoring in political science and philosophy and minoring in public leadership. The international student's passion for advocacy is driven by the political climate of her home country, Nigeria. In the fall of 2023, Nwaeze was a Civic Houston Intern in the office of Houston Vice Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember Martha Castex-Tatum, where she increased her understanding of community development, essential services and constituent needs.

On campus, Nwaeze serves as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the UH Student Government Association. In this role, she advocates for the student body by upholding fairness and justice in resolving cases. She is a senior advisor for the UH Pre-law Society and previously was one of the student organization's fundraising chairs. She is also a bible study coordinator for a student-based fellowship. In the community, Nwaeze works with Young Invincibles to amplify youth voices in the political process.

“My typical day as a policy intern at Harris County Precinct 1 entails conducting research for initiatives that reflect the precinct's goals, collaborating with other departments on projects and attending events and meetings. Volunteering at one of Precinct 1's Beryl relief distribution centers taught me that personal interactions are crucial in policymaking. Policies shine when they reflect the needs revealed through these meaningful interactions.” 


milan-samMilan Sam
Junior, Public Policy
Harris County Office of County Administration, Research and Analysis Division

Milan Sam is a junior majoring in public policy with a minor in management and leadership. Sam is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and a Master of Public Policy through a dual degree program at the Hobby School. In the spring of 2024, Sam served as a Civic Houston Intern with the office of Harris County Justice of the Peace Dolores Lozano.

He is involved in various civic engagement efforts, including serving as the community engagement coordinator for MOVE Texas and as the outreach coordinator for Texas Rising, where he mobilizes young voters to the polls. He is also a mentor for the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, providing essential support and guidance to refugee youth in the U.S. As the membership coordinator for One Small Step, he has built connections across the student body through volunteerism. He participates in the UH Speech and Debate program and Model G20.

“I have been working on various research projects for the Harris County Office of County Administration. I learned to use a qualitative methodological approach. This experience gave me insights into county policymaking and the public policy process in addressing societal challenges. I also had the opportunity to volunteer and participate in county events and programs, further building my understanding of policymaking in county government." 


alyssa-vaughanAlyssa Vaughan
Post-baccalaureate, Sociology
Office of Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth, Communications Department

Alyssa Vaughan is a post-baccalaureate with a degree in sociology and a minor in law, values and policy. Vaughan began a journey into politics as a volunteer on the 2022 Texas governor's race campaign and on-campus activities with the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Squad and UH Black Student Union after transferring from the University of Texas at Arlington.

In the fall of 2023, the Civic Houston Internship Program deepened Vaughan's passion for local community organizing through an internship assignment with the John Whitmire for Houston Mayor campaign. A transformative opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the U.S. Department of State's Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship Program allowed Vaughn to explore the complexities of socio-political issues such as poverty and apartheid. Vaughan used the experiences to launch The Freedom Collective supporting Black queer students. She now empowers Coogs as a UH LGBTQ+ Alumni Association board member.

“A typical day at work varies with different tasks. One day, I might create graphics for social media, while another day, I could attend an event or spend time with a different department. Being around other interns from various colleges taught me that public service is fundamentally about building a sense of community. There are many ways to serve the public, but it truly takes people coming together to make a significant impact.”