HOBBY FELLOWS 2019
Sara Alhalabi was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science and minoring in national security while working as a Hobby Fellow.
During her undergraduate career, Sara gained experience in state government through the Civic Houston Internship Program, where she interned for State Representative Carol Alvarado and State Senator Borris Miles. She was also selected as a Leland Fellow, where she interned in Washington DC for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.
During the Hobby Fellowship program, Sara worked as a legislative aide and scheduler for State Senator Borris Miles. She kept his calendar and scheduled all of his meetings and events. At the same time, Sara was in charge of watching several committees and bill tracking. She also carried several bills and helped get them passed in the Senate.
Alleanne Anderson was a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a dual degree in political science and psychology. Alleanne first gained experience through the Civic Houston Internship Program in fall 2018, interning for Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen.
Alleanne worked in the office of State Representative Mary Gonzalez during her fellowship. With Representative Gonzalez serving on the appropriations, public education, and as the vice chair of the local & consent committees, Alleanne was exposed to a wide range of public policy issues. Representative Gonzalez also served as the chair of the newly created LGBTQ Caucus, which gave Alleanne the opportunity to be involved in the group’s effort to shape the discussion on numerous issues of prominence. She also enjoyed her exposure to health care policy at the state level.
Ulises Aubone was a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values, and policy while working as a Hobby Fellow at the Capitol.
In fall 2018, Ulises gained experience in public service through the Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of Vice Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Davis.
Ulises served as a legislative aide for State Representative Julie Johnson. While working in her office, he drafted and sent follow-up letters, interacted with multiple stakeholders to build relationships, and coordinated the office’s mail. He also attended meetings with several organizations, facilitated technology use in the office, and participated in special events. Ulises was assigned to the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee, which gave him great insight into the topic of legal code.
Jonah Baumgarten was a graduating senior at the University of Houston pursuing a bachelor of science in political science with a minor in psychology and business fundamentals.
Jonah first gained government experience as an intern with the Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs. Jonah later interned for Council Member Amanda Edwards through the Civic Houston Internship Program.
While working the 86th Legislative Session for Senator John Whitmire, Jonah was tasked with focusing on health care legislation. This focus included analyzing and tracking bills moving through the Committee on Health & Human Services and meeting with lobbyists and stakeholders from the health care industry. Jonah expanded upon his knowledge of government and became well acquainted with the legislative process.
Alejandra Cajero was a University of Houston senior majoring in political science and journalism.
During her undergraduate career, Alejandra gained experience in state government through the Civic Houston Internship Program, where she interned for State Representative Carol Alvarado in the fall 2018 semester.
Alejandra served as a legislative aide for State Senator Carol Alvarado conducting legislative research, facilitating movement of multiple bills, and coordinating meetings among stakeholders. She gained in-depth knowledge of the Senate's legislative process as she worked on bills relating to the regulation of child detention centers, gun safety, SNAP incentives, and Medicaid expansion to name a few. Furthermore, Alejandra served as the main point of contact for all issues and legislation passing through the Senate Select Committee on Ports for which Senator Alvarado serves as the vice-chair.
Britnee Chuor was a post-baccalaureate at the University of Houston who graduated in December 2018 after double majoring in political science and liberal studies with a minor in Spanish.
Britnee first gained experience through the Civic Houston Internship Program where she worked for State Representative Gene Wu’s district office. She also interned with the Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs.
During her time working in Representative Wu’s Capitol office as a Hobby Fellow, Britnee gained valuable insight into the legislative process by helping to facilitate numerous bills in the fields of education, criminal justice, juvenile justice, and public health. She was also responsible for overseeing and reporting to senior staff on bills moving through the House Committees on Public Education, Higher Education, Agriculture & Livestock, Elections, Defense & Veterans Affairs, and County Affairs.
Ashley Cruz was a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in women’s and gender studies while working as a Hobby Fellow at the Capitol.
Ashley worked for the Beto for Texas campaign as a Student Fellow and interned at Texas Organization Project focusing on the housing crisis in Houston post Hurricane Harvey.
During the 86th legislative session, Ashley worked for Representative Rosenthal as a policy analyst, scheduler, and staffed the Committee on County Affairs. She also met with constituents and lobbyists to discuss bills flowing through the House. She took the lead on analyzing bills in four different committees: Human Services, Pensions, Licensing & Administration, and Land & Resource Management. She also was assigned specific areas of legislation which involved creating bill packets and completing bill referral request.
Jonathan Ezemba was a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science and minor in business.
Prior to the Hobby Fellows program, Jonathan gained experience in public service and the legal world through participating in the University of Houston Law Center’s Pre-Law Pipeline Program and interning with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
As a Hobby Fellow, Jonathan worked as a legislative aide for State Representative John Turner during the 86th legislative session. In this role, he conducted analysis and recommendations on legislation, facilitated correspondence between constituents and the representative, held meetings with stakeholders, and collaborated with peers to move bills in the political process. Jonathan was tasked with monitoring committee hearings and preparing the staff and Representative Turner for committees he was assigned to. Additionally, Jonathan conducted research on mental health in first responders and the relationship with post-traumatic stress disorder with the intention of creating policy to address the issues.
Sergio Hernandez was a senior at the University of Houston-Downtown majoring in political science with a minor in sociology.
Prior to his experience as a Hobby Fellow, Sergio worked as a volunteer for Adrian Garcia’s campaign for Harris County Commissioner and Lizzie Fletcher’s campaign for Congress.
Sergio was assigned to the office of State Representative Vikki Goodwin, whose district includes western and far south Travis County. Sergio gained experience in the fields of school finance, teacher retirement pensions, and environmental issues. He was also involved in Representative Goodwin’s work in the Homeland Security & Public Safety and Urban Affairs committees. Sergio was excited and honored to work for a member experiencing their first legislative session and feels as though he was able to impact the daily operations of the office in a way that will benefit future staff members.
Ariz Karim was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values, and policy.
In Spring 2018, Ariz interned for the City of Houston's Office of Sustainability through the Civic Houston Internship Program.
Ariz served as a Legislative Aide for State Representative Armando Walle during the 86th legislative session. Her duties included staffing the representative on the Higher Education and Redistricting committees, as well as serving as the point person on several policy areas including public health, higher education, elections, transportation, and environmental issues. She was instrumental in working on several bills including raising the cap of the Physician Loan Repayment Program, establishing maternal peer support pilot programs for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, aligning the degree plan requirements across all institutions of higher education, and providing transparency to the air permitting process for concrete batch plants. She also assisted Representative Walle in drafting opinion pieces that were featured in the Houston Chronicle and the Rio Grande Guardian.
Philip Ligget was a junior at the University of Houston majoring in economics with minors in political science and national security studies.
Prior to his experience as a Hobby Fellow, Philip was active in multiple organizations around Houston, including Economics Society of University of Houston, Young Americans for Liberty, and Houston Young Republicans.
Philip was assigned to work in the office of State Senator Paul Betterncourt. Working in the office of the chair of the Committee on Property Tax, Philip was often tasked with coordinating binders for meetings that contained all information pertinent to the issues being discussed. He also met with various interest groups and constituents to communicate their concerns and interests to the senior staff of the office.
Ayesha Muzaffar graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in political science with a minor in Phronesis.
During her undergraduate career, Ayesha gained experience in local government through the Civic Houston Internship Program, where she interned for the City of Houston’s Administrative and Regulatory Affairs Department in fall 2017. She was later selected as a Leland Fellow and worked full time in the Capitol office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Ayesha served as a policy analyst for State Representative Garnet Coleman. She worked on legislative research, facilitating the movement of several bills, and meeting with constituents and lobbyists. She had the opportunity to work on legislation that was concerned with the creation of University of Houston College of Medicine, affordable housing in Harris County, and introducing more family drug courts in Texas to provide families in Texas with better tools to handle the effects of substance abuse.
Idalid Navarro was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in history.
Prior to her experience as a Hobby Fellow, Idalid gained experience through the Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of State Representative Jarvis Johnson. She also interned in the office of Council Member Amanda Edwards through CHIP.
As a Hobby Fellow, Idalid worked in the office of Representative Jessica Farrar. This assignment was particularly fulfilling because Idalid is a constituent of Representative Farrar’s. Having the opportunity to work on issues of importance to her home district added significant pride to her work during the session. Idalid was exposed to a wide range of issues from Representative Farrar’s assignment as vice-chair of the Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, as well as the Committee on Natural Resources.
Adam Ordaz was a junior at the University of Houston-Downtown majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish.
Adam gained political experience by working extensively during the 2018 midterm election season. He worked as an office manager and a volunteer trainer for the Beto for Senate campaign.
Adam worked as a legislative aide for Representative James Talarico in the 86th legislative session. During his time there, he worked closely on numerous policy issues, met with lobbyists and advocates, and helped by supporting the legislative policy team in bill analysis. Other responsibilities included meeting with constituents, sending emails, and meeting with other offices for the support of our legislation. During his time there, he gained extensive knowledge on Texas' public education system.
Jose Reyes was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in history.
Jose began his involvement with public service in spring 2018 working for Houston Council Member Robert Gallegos through the Civic Houston Internship Program. He continued to work for Council Member Gallegos through the summer and then became involved in local campaigns for the 2018 midterms before becoming a Hobby Fellow.
Jose served as a legislative aide for freshman State Representative John Bucy during the 86th legislature. During his time at the Capitol, Jose worked on a variety of tasks including constituent issues and staffing the representative on committee assignments. He also worked on legislation that focused on easing access to voting information and reforming drug testing policies for state employees. Jose also coordinated events for the Young Texans Legislative Caucus, which Representative Bucy serves as chair.
Jessica Rubio Merlan was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in Phronesis.
Jessica first gained experience in public service through the Civic Houston Internship Program working for Theater District Houston.
As a Hobby Fellow, Jessica worked in the office of State Representative Gina Calanni. Her assignment to that office was something she would take great pride in, as she is a resident of Representative Calanni’s district. Jessica also relished in the opportunity to help shape the office, as it was the representative’s first legislative session. She was exposed to a large variety of policy issues due to Representative Calanni’s placement on the Homeland Security & Public Safety and Juvenile Justice & Family Issues committees. Jessica enjoyed learning about the legislative process and the politics that influence the shaping of policy.
Crystal Tran was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science and psychology with a minor in Chinese studies and national security studies.
Crystal first learned about public service through an internship with the Mayor’s Office of Trade & International Affairs. Later, through the Civic Houston Internship Program, she worked in the office of Council Member Dwight Boykins.
As a Hobby Fellow, Crystal worked in the office of State Representative Ana Hernandez. During the legislative session, Crystal was able to be immersed in the legislative process. As Representative Hernandez was selected as the vice-chair of the powerful Committee on State Affairs, Crystal was exposed to a wide range of policy issues. She particularly enjoyed meeting with lobbyists and constituents who would visit the office to share their opinions on issues of importance.