Tag Archives: PPIP

Apply to the Public Policy Internship Program!

The Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) provides students with real-world experience and hands-on learning through policy-related internships in Washington, D.C.; Austin, TX; and various European locations.  PPIP internships complement and reinforce students’ coursework, give students inside knowledge about their professional future, and provide hosting organizations with additional support.

The Texas A&M University Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) was established in 1999 by Dr. Ray Bowen, then President of Texas A&M University, to respond to society’s increasing interest and participation in public policy issues and programs. Since then approximately 600 Aggies have interned in Washington, D.C.; Austin, TX and abroad.  PPIP is coordinated from the office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.  This allows the program to be coordinated centrally through the colleges to provide an integrated academic and policy-related internship program for the campus and community. (From http://ppip.tamu.edu/about).

Barbara Tsao '17
Barbara Tsao ’17

University Scholar Barbara Tsao ’17 was selected for the Summer 2016 Public Policy Internship Program. She took the time to share some thoughts about the process of applying and how this experience will help her in the future.

Where did you intern?

I interned for the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) this summer in Washington, D.C. APHSA is a nonprofit organization that represents state human service agencies across the nation and works with policymakers to promote effective policies on Capitol Hill. More specifically, I worked with the National Collaborative for Integration of Health & Human Services to track legislation regarding the Affordable Care Act.

What was the application and interview process like for PPIP?

I would say that the application process was quite comparable to the University Scholar application process. The PPIP application requires the submission of a transcript, resume, cover letter, 3 letters of recommendation, an essay covering a policy of interest, and a final interview before a panel. I have never written a cover letter before, nor have I ever asked for more than one letter of recommendation at a time. Having these experiences definitely made me more confident in my ability to craft the best possible version of myself to any organization. Overall, I believe the process was an excellent primer for admissions to any professional school.

[n.b. You can find helpful guides to writing cover letters, as well as many other important writing and speaking activities, at the University Writing Center website: http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/Students/Guides]

How will your internship fit into your long-term goals?

I am currently a senior pursuing a Biomedical Science major with Honors Fellow distinction. I possess a great passion for science, law, and ethics. As such, my future plans in academia include a J.D. and M.A. in bioethics. My ultimate goal is to pursue a career in law regarding health policy. To this end, I believe APHSA provided me with the finest opportunity available for acquiring real-world training in the exciting and ever-expanding field of health law. Working alongside policy advocates and attorneys further solidified my passion for law and the way it blends with our nation’s health policy.

The application deadline for both Spring 2017 and Summer 2017 opportunities is this Friday, September 16 at 5:00 PM. For more information about the Public Policy Internship Program or to complete your application, visit http://ppip.tamu.edu.

To discover other enriching experiences available to undergraduates at Texas A&M, visit Undergraduate Studies at http://us.tamu.edu.


Former Student Spotlight: Omar El-Halwagi

By Macy Moore

Omar El-Halwagi ’11, Texas A&M’s most recent Truman Scholar, is  pursuing a dual degree at The University of Michigan Law School, where he is working toward becoming an employment discrimination lawyer. El-Halwagi ultimately decided to attend Texas A&M University because of the enrichment opportunities offered by Honors.

“I was admitted to the Business Honors program and loved the idea that I could attend an institution with as many resources that only a large school like A&M could have, while receiving the personalized attention one could attain through the honors program,” El-Halwagi says. “My dad is a professor at A&M, and he was rooting for me to go to A&M the whole time. It was one of the best decisions of my life. There’s no way I would have had all the current success in my life without A&M.”

Omar El-Halwagi '11
Omar El-Halwagi ’11

Some of his favorite memories at Texas A&M are from his involvement on the Speech and Debate team.

“I served as President for three years of the team, and we traveled across the country giving speeches on issues we cared about. Plus, the road trips with my fellow Aggies never disappointed!”

Aside from the team, he also enjoyed participating in the Public Policy Internship Program. It was through PPIP that El-Halwagi interned at FEMA in 2010 and in love with Washington D.C. and government.

“The opportunity to be able to do that would not have been possible had I not been a student at A&M. That office was truly incredible in facilitating that experience for me.”

In 2011, El-Halwagi and a friend had the opportunity to design and teach their own upper-level business course, entitled “Hot Topics in Business,” under the supervision of a professor.

“It was an amazing professional opportunity to fill a gap I saw in the curriculum and grow as a communicator,” he says. “While at the business school, I also served as one of the coordinators of the Freshman Business Initiative, where I helped three classes of freshmen acclimate to Texas A&M and find a space for themselves where they could be supported.”

In 2009, he was granted the opportunity to travel to Beijing as a student ambassador to the China-US Relations Conference. George Bush founded the conference, and 20 of the 26 selected student ambassadors were from Texas A&M. He deems the experience “by far one of the best” of his life.

He personally considers the fellowship office the most helpful aspect of the Honors Program. He credits Kyle Mox, the former national fellowships coordinator, for helping him attain his Truman Scholarship, and says that without his assistance, his life would be completely different.

El-Halwagi refers to the Truman Scholarship as “the gift that keeps on giving” as he was hired by a former Truman scholar at the City of Houston following graduation. Along with the scholarship’s positive affects, he attributes his other academic involvement to his professional success.

“PPIP gave me experience working in a large governmental body that I was able to apply at the City of Houston,” he says. “My capstone strategic management course helped me as an internal consultant at the City of Houston on how to approach large problems and create efficient solutions. My desire to become an employment discrimination lawyer is founded in the courses I took at Mays from Professor Paetzold and Professor Hailey.”

Needless to say, his undergraduate experience at Texas A&M gave him the essential foundations for his career aspirations. El-Hawagi advises Texas A&M current students to take every opportunity that presents itself.

“So much of my success was just the fact that I kept building on the opportunities I was given,” he says. “Form relationships with professors. Find the classes you think will be engaging and take them. I took maybe five or six theatre classes while at A&M, and avoided accounting like the plague! Befriend people who inspire you. My friends at A&M are deserving of so much credit for my success. I’ll never forget when I sent out my Truman application to a few friends at A&M, and how within one hour, three of them told me how bad it was and gave me constructive criticism on how to improve it. I crafted an entirely new application within three days because of their support. And finally, believe in yourself. There is a huge world out there, and A&M has provided you with the tools to own it; do so.”

El-Halwagi was recently invited to present at TEDxACU. His talk, titled, “When Faced with Islamophobia, Will You Be an Ally?” can be found online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw5zCYYSvGQ.

We love to share news and success stories from our Honors Former Students! If you have something to share with our current, former, and prospective students and their families, please contact honors@tamu.edu.

Four Outstanding Students Nominated for the 2016 Udall Scholarship

By Macy Moore –

One of the most gratifying elements of being an undergraduate student at Texas A&M is the opportunity to be nominated for various scholarships and fellowships. Receiving a scholarship or fellowship is financially fulfilling and opens doors for professional networking, but even the simple nomination is rewarding in itself. The application process allows students to reflect on their career ambitions, skills, and dreams for the future and has been proven to be an illuminating experience for many.

The Udall Foundation recognizes studious undergraduate students who are pursuing a career related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Awarding scholarships, fellowships, and internships to exceptional students, the foundation was established in 1992 to honor Morris K. and Stuart L. Udall’s influence on America’s environment, public lands, and natural resources, as well as their support for the rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Students selected for the Udall Scholarship will obtain scholarships up to $5,000 and an invaluable connection with the community of other dedicated public policy scholars.

This year, we are proud to announce the four Texas A&M students nominated for the 2016 Udall Scholarship competition: Omar Elhassan, Phillip Hammond,  Jaclyn Guz, and Alyson Miranda, .

Omar Elhassan '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Omar Elhassan ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Omar Elhassan ’17 is currently a junior environmental soil science major and bioenvironmental sciences minor in honors program of the Soil and Crop Sciences Department. Both a Cargill Global Scholar and Golden Opportunity Scholar, he has conducted undergraduate research in Dr. Gentry’s Soil and Aquatic Microbiology lab investigating the effects of urban wastewater treatment plants on increasing antibiotic resistance in the environment.  Aside from academics, Elhassan also works as the Sustainability Officer with the student run nonprofit Just4Water, which aims to provide self-sustainable water solutions to developing nations. He works to develop partnerships with NGOs, nonprofit, and businesses to assess the needs of rural communities to design site-specific water solutions such as drilling water wells, designing water distribution systems, and installing latrines for waste management. Following his undergraduate career, Elhassan plans to enlist in the Peace Corps to gain real world experience in the realm of international development, then intend to pursue a master’s degree in international development at Cornell University to become a driving force for sustainable development in emerging nations.

Jaclyn Guz '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Jaclyn Guz ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee








Jaclyn Guz ’17 is a junior environmental studies major with a minor in geographic information systems. Guz has previously conducted undergraduate research as part of the Michael E. DeBakey Undergraduate Research program in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She worked in the Cairns lab studying the tree line in Northern Sweden, which research formed the basis of her Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis. She also serves as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader for the TAMU Academic Success Center. Guz completed a water quality analysis internship through a summer research program at the University of Vermont in Summer 2014, and served on the EPA Science Advisory Board as part of her participation in the Texas A&M Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) in Fall 2014. She worked as a writing intern for Geography.com in Summer 2015, and is a 2015-16 Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Guz is currently completing a second capstone with the Undergraduate Leadership Scholars program working toward promoting undergraduate research opportunities in the College of Geosciences. After pursuing a dual master’s program in public policy and environmental studies in Washington, D.C., Guz plans a career using sound data analysis to craft economic and legal incentives to promote sustainable practices.

Phillip Hammond '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Phillip Hammond ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Phillip Hammond ’17 is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture with minors in urban & regional planning and sustainable architecture & regional planning. He dedicates his spare time to the student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects as the active Vice President for the departmental organization. Phillip also serves as a University Scholar in the University Honors program after being inducted in 2014. His love of nature, architectural design, and philosophy has led him to aspire for a career designing sustainable communities following his certification as a registered Landscape Architect. After he receives his undergraduate degree, Phillip plans to complete a master’s degree in land and property development, then will follow his ambition of changing the way people live with designs that will improve transportation alternatives and provide better ecological infrastructure.

Aly Miranda '17, 2016 Udall Nominee
Aly Miranda ’17, 2016 Udall Nominee

Alyson Miranda ‘17 is a bioenvironmental sciences major and business minor from Missouri City, TX. Her environmental interests were spurred by her first experiences as a restaurant employee and her first national park experience (as a trip leader for TAMU Alternative Spring Break). Then, as an A&M Conservation Scholar, Miranda engaged in marine species risk research for the marine biodiversity lab at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Her research focused on current literature on Gulf of Mexico bonyfishes, as well as assessment review for other regional projects in the Global Marine Species Assessment (https://sci.odu.edu/gmsa/). Last fall, Miranda completed a separate internship at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. where she explored the connection between public policy, federal agencies, and science. Upon returning this semester, she joined the Environmental Issues Committee where she is excited to work on programs to educate students about sustainability and marine environmental issues. Outside of being a current University Scholar, Miranda is a musician in the TAMU Symphonic Winds and at her church, and she loves volunteering at the sustainable Howdy Farm on campus. This summer, she will serve as a business consultant for disadvantaged entrepreneurs in Cape Town, South Africa. Ultimately, Aly would like to work as a marine/wetland researcher or consultant to help people use land and marine resources in an environmentally and responsible way.

As of 1996, seven Udall Scholars and two Honorable Mentions have emerged from Texas A&M University. Most recently, Victoria Easton was selected as a Udall Scholar, making her the first Texas A&M Udall Scholar selected in the Tribal Public Policy category.

For more information about the Udall Scholarship see http://udall.gov.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Udall Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.

Three Exceptional Undergraduates Nominated for Truman Scholarship

By Macy Moore –

Three exceptional Texas A&M students have been nominated for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a foundation recognizing college juniors who aspire to work in public service. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students. Each year, 55 to 65 applicants are chosen from a pool of approximately 600 nominated students. This year, the nominees from Texas A&M are psychology and Spanish major Joshua Fuller, civil engineering major George Gillette, and a third student who has asked to remain unidentified for the time being.*

2016 Truman Nominee Josh Fuller '17
2016 Truman Nominee Josh Fuller ’17

For Joshua Fuller ’17, the coordination of research and response efforts to large public health concerns is paramount to his career goals. Fuller believes molding research and public policy together is the way he is best equipped to serve the public. During his time at Texas A&M, he has conducted research about Alzheimer’s disease in the lab of psychology Professor Steve Balsis. Through the use of large datasets that track Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, such as brain volume and cerebral spinal fluid, he has worked with Dr. Balsis on creating empirical models of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis that can be used by researchers and clinicians in the fight against the disease. Fuller also studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador where he volunteered at the Fundación TASE Alzheimer’s Center for five weeks in the summer of 2015, gaining valuable clinical experience working with dementia patients. As part of his commitment to TASE, Fuller developed and led an English class as a cognitive therapy for five patients who had some bilingual proficiency, synthesizing research about bilingualism being a protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease. Fuller intends to pursue a joint doctorate in clinical psychology and a Master of Public Health. Through his involvement as a leader in several student organizations at Texas A&M, such as the Honors Student Council and the Student Affairs Fee Advisory Board, as well as his acceptance into the Texas A&M Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP), Fuller has learned that the greatest impact he can have in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and other public health concerns is not just in the laboratory. Rather, through the amalgamation of research and policy, Fuller plans to serve as an ambassador between the research community and lawmakers in the hope that we can globally coordinate the present and future study and response to diseases that threaten our way of life.

2016 Truman Nominee George Gillette '17
2016 Truman Nominee George Gillette ’17

George Gillette ’17 is a civil engineering student with a focus in transportation and data science. He began working in research at Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in his freshman year under Melisa Finley to evaluate the impact of impaired driving. Since then, he has worked on a variety of projects with TTI, including determination of how distraction impacts start-up time, entropy of eye-tracking glances to evaluate driver attentiveness, and estimation of tire debris volume through image processing. His work at TTI has resulted in publications to Transportation Research Board and has earned him ATLAS Undergraduate Student of the Year Award and Trinity Undergraduate Student of the Year Award. Outside of his research, Gillette serves as the president of Engineers Serving the Community, a student organization that applies engineering skills to real-world projects to benefit the community. Additionally, he is the co-founder and under-secretary-general of Texas A&M Model United Nations. Gillette aspires to be the first secretary of transportation with a technical background in order to better move the industry forward.

Two hundred students will be selected as finalists after their applications are reviewed by the Truman Finalist Selection Committee. The finalists will then be interviewed by a series of Regional Review Panels before the 2016 Truman Scholars are announced. In the past 10 years, nine Aggies have advanced to the finalist round.

For more information, please contact Adelia Humme in LAUNCH: National Fellowships, at 845-1957 or natlfellows@tamu.edu.

Update 3-28-16: Our third nominee contacted us and asked to be unidentified for the time being. This post has been edited accordingly.

For Those Who Haven’t Messed Up…Yet

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. Below is a reflection from Alyson Miranda ’17 on her experience as an intern in Washington, D.C.

– By Alyson Miranda

We all know those perfect people—in fact, I’m one of them! *insert dramatic hair flip*

Not quite.

I am four weeks into my internship at the Department of Energy. Although my bioenvironmental sciences major didn’t quite set me up for work in HR, I’m learning a lot. I hit the ground running on Day 1, and since then my weeks have flown by with countless emails, meetings, and reflections like, “Wait, so what do I tell people when they ask what I want to do with the rest of my life?” which are met by deep pondering. Living in D.C. has also been exciting (can you say “Papa Francis?”), and I’d recommend [the Public Policy Internship Program] to ANYONE remotely interested in policy—whether that’s in their respective field, related to federal or international policy, or just a curiosity. (Pssst, here’s a secret: you don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life to be here!) Anywho, all in all, I’ve felt pretty successful throughout the adjustment.

Cue the mistakes.

This week, I felt the pressure of responsibility fall on my head. I’m thinking of two specific incidences (I say “specific” because I have a background project of working with Microsoft Access, which is a program that continually reminds me of my incompetencies… not always a bad thing).

First job: I was supposed to set up a meeting with a new contact within the Department of Energy. But I juggled emails in the wrong order—by the way, that means you should check the newest emails first—so we ended up rescheduling a previously planned meeting two or three times. I also accidentally hung up the phone on my supervisor. Woopsies.

Second job: After the meeting with the new contact, I was supposed to relay another list of contacts. Somewhere in our exchanges, I misunderstood and instead coordinated an effort to reach out and secure participants for an event. The new contact then corrected me, and I had to go back and email all of the people we reached out to.

Although they weren’t disastrous mistakes that caused harm, I know that I probably didn’t seem excessively competent. Being able to schedule a meeting, answer the phone, and take orders—these are easy enough tasks. In the end, I smoothed things out with the parties involved and hopefully retained a positive reputation. How did I do it?

Here’s a survival guide to mistake recovery:

  1. Be polite, always. Use your “thank you”s and your “have a great day”s. That includes email, in person, and over the phone. Manners are not antiquated, even in the hoppin’ town of Washington, D.C.
  2. Accept when you’re wrong, and be ready to act and fix the mistake. Similarly, if you don’t know an answer, go and find it.
  3. Be genuine in your efforts to do the best job you can. Don’t take short cuts or the lazy way out. Send individualized emails to the parties involved, if it isn’t burdensome to the recipients.

So, for all you perfect people (and the rest of the world): Failing is a chance to show that you can handle mistakes with grace. It builds character. Happy failing!

For more information about the Public Policy Internship Program, visit http://ppip.tamu.edu.

To read more about the importance of learning from failure, check out “In Praise of the F Word” and “Why Failure is Crucial for a Student’s Success.”

Aly Miranda - Internship
Aly Miranda ’17, surviving the sunrise and avoiding the monster mosquitos on Chincoteague Island

Congratulations to the Summer Class of Public Policy Interns!

By Hayley Cox

The Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) is an academic service to Texas A&M University students, providing out-of-classroom opportunities and helping students build on and enhance coursework they have undertaken during collegiate education. As Texas A&M recognizes internships as an integral part of an Aggie education, PPIP helps students to find these hands-on internships and move beyond their classroom knowledge.

public policyPPIP was established in 1999 by Texas A&M President Dr. Ray Bowen and since then approximately 500 Aggies have interned in Washington, D.C., Austin, and Paris. More recently, PPIP has expanded to London and other European Union cities such as Nice, Brussels, and Berlin. The internship program is coordinated by the Texas A&M office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.

Students selected for PPIP’s Washington, D.C. internships (offered throughout the fall, spring, and summer) are chosen for their communication skills, initiative, potential, diligence, and personal integrity. While students must have excellent grades, but they must also be poised to take full advantage of the program. Prospective PPIP Washington, D.C. interns undergo an application and interview process.

Five Texas A&M University Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) students have joined the crop of summer PPIP interns in Washington, D.C.!

Sarah Armstrong – Senior Editor and Layout Designer for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal
Gus Blessing – University Scholar
Sophia Makris – University Honors
Alex Masucci – University Honors
Amanda Streetman – Undergraduate Research Scholar

Sophia Makris - University Honors - PPIP Intern
Sophia Makris – University Honors – PPIP Intern
PPIP intern for Summer 2013 Sophia Makris ‘14 has been selected to intern with the Texas A&M System Office of Federal Relations in Washington, D.C. Makris wrote a research essay, submitted a cover letter and letters of recommendation, and completed an interview process en route to her selection. She said, “Overall, the application process was a learning opportunity in itself and I greatly enjoyed my experience.”

Makris, a history major, has had the opportunity to attend meetings and learn about the higher education policy process since arriving in D.C. in late May. She said she loves getting to see so much of the work that impacts her university. The current PPIP intern said, “I have a very unique opportunity to experience this city for three months and I am looking forward to everything I will learn from my interactions here… Having the opportunity to live and work in D.C. as a college student is unbeatable! ”

Alex Masucci - University Honors - PPIP Intern
Alex Masucci – University Honors – PPIP Intern
Economics student Alex Masucci ’15 has also been selected as a PPIP Washington, D.C. summer intern. Since he arrived in late May, he has been tracking legislation and attending hearings on human services programs such as Medicaid and Head Start. He said his main duties are to report critical changes on these programs to state and local administrators of human services, relay their feedback to Congressional staff, and write weekly articles on particularly important items.

Masucci expects to gain professional experience from participating in the legislative process during his time as a PPIP intern this summer. He said, “I have never been to D.C., so I’m excited to explore everything that it has to offer over the course of the summer!”

The Honors and Undergraduate Research Department would like to congratulate the 2013 PPIP Washington, D.C. summer interns – Sarah Armstrong, Gus Blessing, Sophia Makris, Alex Masucci, and Amanda Streetman!

University Honors Student chosen for PPIP internship in DC

Clayton-CromerClayton Cromer

Clayton Cromer is a sophomore from Oklahoma City, OK, working on his bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in philosophy.  He is a member of the College of Liberal Arts Cornerstone Program and traveled with the group to Vienna, Austria last spring. Clayton has been involved in several organizations, both on and off campus, during his time at Texas A&M University including the Univeristy Honors Program, the MSC Wiley Lecture Series, the Texas A&M Pre-Law society, and the St. Mary’s Youth Retreat Team.  Clayton plans to attend law school following his graduation from Texas A&M.  He hopes to gain valuable experience during his internship as he plans to pursue a career in national defense and national security.


For full story and complete list of 2013 PPIP Interns check out http://ppip.tamu.edu/current-interns/d-c-interns/