Tag Archives: Public Policy

Julia Garcia takes on Canada!

By Hayley Cox

Julia Garcia, Class of 2014
Julia Garcia, Class of 2014
Senior English student Julia Garcia traveled to the Canadian Sociological Association Conference in Victoria, Canada in June 2013. She was a member of a team, along with students Devita Gunawan and Vennessa Jreij, studying the effects of education on economic development in primary, secondary, and university education systems.

Although her teammates were unable to make the summer trip, Garcia traveled to Victoria along with the team’s advisor, professor of sociology Dr. Samuel Cohn. Dr. Cohn had been working on a project in research towards eradicating poverty, and needed a team of research assistants. The previous summer, Garcia traveled to Austin, Texas to gather census data at the University Library at the University of Texas in correlation with Dr. Cohn’s research efforts. Her team would ultimately gather census data for over 40 countries, including The United States, Canada, and England. Garcia’s background as an English major influenced her role as writer and large concept framer for Dr. Cohn’s research.

After Garcia completed the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program with teammates Gunawan and Jreij, Dr. Cohn encouraged the team to apply for the Canadian Sociological Association Conference, and the team was accepted. Garcia applied for and was awarded with an Undergraduate Research Travel Award, giving her the privilege to spend nine days in Victoria, four of which she would spend at the conference.

Victoria, Canada
Victoria, Canada
Garcia expressed her appreciation for the beautiful sites she saw on her trip, beginning with a ferry ride from Seattle to Victoria. She was impressed by the progressive nature and awareness level at the University of Victoria. She said, “It’s interesting because at the University of Victoria, global warming IS a thing. It is not a debate, but instead an issue to which people are working to make a change.”

At the conference, Garcia heard presentations which were mostly political discussions dealing with poverty, sanitation, and water. She said it was a great learning experience to be in the same room with incredibly successful professors from all over the United States and Canada. Her favorite presentation was made by a man who purchased a golf membership in India in order to observe class differences between elite members, caddies, and staff. He lived in India for six months, attending the golf course each day, interviewing and observing these individuals.

Julia's presentation group. Dr. Cohn is pictured Row 1 far right and Julia Garcia right behind.
Julia’s presentation group. Dr. Cohn is pictured Row 1 far right and Julia Garcia right behind.
Also at the conference, Garcia presented the team’s thesis “The Influence of Education on Economic Development,” along with Dr. Cohn. She said this was her first opportunity to fully experience the research process. Garcia said the statistical analysis segment of the project was time consuming and somewhat frustrating, but overall she wouldn’t have changed much that the team did throughout their work. She encouraged students to take part in undergraduate research and to create relationships with professors. Garcia said, “Why wouldn’t you be a part of a great experience with the opportunity to take a fully paid trip to Canada?”

IMG_1375The senior will be graduating in May 2014, and hopes to travel as a part of her many post-graduate aspirations. She is considering law school or a graduate degree in public policy or comparative literature, but intends to take a year off of school to live in Washington, D.C. or Austin, or to travel the world. Through research, Garcia saw many inevitable problems in society which tied into her already present humanitarian interests. She said should would definitely consider living in another country where she would find a humbling experience.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is very proud of Julia Garcia, along with her research teammates Devita Gunawan and Vennessa Jreij. Congratulations to the team and Dr. Cohn in all of their research accomplishments and their acceptance to travel to the Canadian Sociological Association Conference in Victoria!


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!

Undergraduate Teacher Scholars, learning through teaching

The Undergraduate Teacher Scholar(UTS) Program currently consists of several pilot mechanisms which the student may choose between.  Each mechanism requires the Undergraduate Teacher Scholar (UTS) to identify a faculty mentor who agrees to work with the UTS to prepare educational material the first semester and will be the instructor of record the second semester.

UTS students teach a one-credit hour course on topics chosen with their faculty mentor.  This spring two UTS students taught courses, one in international politics and the science of dieting. Students in this course learned through UTS presentations, peer discussions and class projects.

Chris Cliver, senior international studies – politics and diplomacy major, is guiding his students through world politics by discussing current world events.  His UTS course focuses on student presentations of current world issues.  Cliver hopes his students gain an international perspective of America through his course.

“My hope for the students is that they can become more aware of what is happening outside the United States that affects us. It is my opinion that Americans are less exposed to international news and issues than people from other parts of the world. We live in a globalizing world where many developing countries that have drastically different values and customs will soon be just as well educated and economically stable as the traditional world powers.  I feel it is important for the students to realize this and gain an understanding for the other perspectives, cultures, and issues that our generation will have to deal with,” said Cliver.

Through the UTS program Cliver wants to be a mentor to younger Aggies, “hopefully the students in this class can see me not only as a teacher, but also as an older Aggie who can help them with anything outside of class as well, or simply be a friend, because in the end we all bleed maroon.”

Cliver plans to attend graduate school next fall and pursue a degree in international affairs.  After school Cliver hopes to have a career in Foreign Service with a governmental agency.

Jacob Hammond, senior Biomedical Sciences major, leads a UTS seminar on the scientific perspective of dieting.   Students in his course learn about current fad diets, health diet programs, dietary supplements, and the processes behind human metabolism.  By the end of his course he hopes students will not only be able to look at food and dieting scientifically, but also how to facilitate discussion and hone their ability to make presentations vibrant and exciting for their audiences.

In Hammond’s course students will read scientific articles about diets and dietary supplements, discuss the effects of these diets and make presentations about healthy and dangerous dieting.  Hammond is excited to continue using his knack for teaching and tutoring to help others learn science and apply it to their daily lives. “As a freshman I absolutely loved tutoring my peers in general chemistry and biology. When they came to me with problems, I loved being able to walk them through to the solution. Science is complicated, but if you are great at it, it can be even more complicated explaining science to those who are not as accustomed to it.  By teaching this class, I want to further shape my ability to present scientific material in an understandable manner,” said Hammond.

Hammond plans to attend medical school in the future.  He would like to practice family or internal medicine.  “With U.S. healthcare moving the way it is, there is going to be a huge need for primary care physicians in the next decade. While I won’t be making as much money as more sought-after specialties, I love the patient interaction that both of these specialties receive. Just like a lawyer is there to navigate you through our legal system, physicians are there to navigate you through the complicated mechanisms that make up your body. My dream is to guide people, and teach them about the multiple spectrums of health,” said Hammond.


Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

Mokhtar Awad Selected as First Texas A&M Carnegie Junior Fellow

Mokhtar Awad
Mokhtar Awad, 2012 Carnegie Junior Fellow

Senior political science major Mokhtar Awad has been selected as a Carnegie Junior Fellow  for 2012-2013. Mokhtar will work as a research assistant to the senior associates in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Mokhtar is the first Texas A&M student ever to be nominated or selected for this prestigious fellowship. Mokhtar was selected for the Fall 2011 Public Policy Internship Program and he recently completed an internship in Washington, D.C.

The Carnegie Junior Fellows Program awards 8-10 fellowships each year to exceptional graduating seniors or recent graduates. Close to 400 nominating institutions participate in the program; these nominations are narrowed to a pool of 25-30 for a rigorous interview process that requires language fluency and in-depth knowledge of the region.

After completing his fellowship, Mokhtar hopes to build a career with an NGO or think-tank that covers Middle Eastern issues and writes about political developments.

Pew Charitable Trust Offers New Internship

The Pew Leadership Year

The Pew Leadership Year offers hands-on experience in public policy advocacy, research and communications to individuals who are dedicated to building a leadership career in the public or nonprofit sectors and have recently completed an undergraduate or advanced degree.  The first Pew Leadership Year will begin in September 2010 and conclude in August 2011.

These year-long, paid positions – all based in our Washington, DC, office – will provide 22 exceptionally talented graduates the chance to work alongside Pew professionals, gaining valuable skills while making important contributions to our work.  Pew Leadership Fellows will learn and hone essential skills that will help them thrive not only during their tenure at Pew, but in any chosen career.

Participants will work with a diverse group of Pew staff in specific departments.  Through observation and involvement, each fellow will have the opportunity to work on critical issues, which may include: global conservation; U.S. land conservation; marine environmental advocacy; global warming and energy policy; federal banking regulations; financial reform; state fiscal issues; election initiatives; public safety; the healthy development of young children; and early childhood education.

Each program participant will focus on one discipline – advocacy/policy, research or communications – within one department – Pew Center on the States, Pew Economic Policy Group, Pew Environment Group or Pew Health Group.  While immersed in one area, participants will have ample exposure to other program areas and attend professional and leadership development seminars.

During their Pew Leadership year, Fellows will have a wide range of responsibilities, which may include:

  • Conduct original research and writing projects.
  • Collect, compile and analyze data.
  • Provide financial assistance to advocates and other leaders to educate policy makers and the public about the benefits of various programs.
  • Become immersed in the research, planning, strategy formulation and execution of a multi-state advocacy campaign.
  • Help prepare for press and other events and attend seminars, briefings or congressional hearings.
  • Assist in efforts to educate policy makers, coordinate work with coalition partners and create fact sheets and other materials.
  • Help create effective online presentations that promote various issues and campaigns.
  • Track legislation and relevant press coverage and research public officials’ records and statements.
  • Support a broad range of advocacy activities.


The Pew Leadership Year is open to individuals graduating with a bachelor or advanced degree from December 2009 through August 2010.  Individuals who studied the following areas are strongly encouraged to apply: economics, political science, environmental science, health science, communications, journalism or public policy.  An applicant must have the legal right to work in the United States at the time of applying to the program.

The criteria for assessment of applicants will include:

  • Evidence of superior academic achievement.
  • Demonstrated analytical skills through academic studies and/or work experience, including an ability to synthesize large amounts of information and focus quickly on the essence of an issue.
  • A strong commitment to producing measurable results.
  • Demonstrated leadership capabilities.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, including an ease in communicating complex concepts in a clear, effective manner for a general audience.
  • Demonstrated interest through academic study and/or prior full-time or part-time work experience in building a leadership career.
  • Demonstrated understanding of policy, research and organizational issues.
  • Ability to perform substantive research.
  • Results-oriented style with a focus on process and achievement.
  • Recognized ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to develop and manage productive relationships with colleagues.

Application Process

Applications are available online in the Careers @ Pew / Pew Leadership Year section of Pew’s website at www.pewtrusts.org.   We suggest you create a login ID and password, allowing for future access to edit your information.

Applications should be submitted no later than May 24, 2010.

A cover letter is not required.

School transcript and recommendation letters are required at the time of an office interview.

Essays:  In addition to the application questions, two essays are required.  Each essay should be no longer than 400 words.  Each should be a concise, well-written essay describing your academic studies and other relevant experiences and how each has prepared you to pursue a career in public policy or the nonprofit sector. The essays may include any notable coursework, research activities, participation in local, regional, or national volunteer activities, and work experience. Your essays should also provide information illustrating your leadership experience and ability to work independently as well as in teams.

Essay 1:

Explain your reasons for applying to Pew’s one-year leadership program and why you have chosen your areas of interest.   Include how your education and prior experiences make you well-qualified for the position.  What strengths and ideas do you bring to the role?

Essay 2:

Describe an experience that demonstrates your leadership abilities and qualities.  What was the objective of the effort, and what role did you play to encourage success?  In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

Interview Process

You will be contacted in late May should you be selected for an interview.  The first round of interviews will be conducted by telephone.  We expect to invite finalist candidates to our Washington, DC, office for a last round of interviews in the first two weeks of June.  Arrangements may be made for a video-conference interview in lieu of an in-office interview.

Please note that applicants are responsible for any travel expenses.

Offers will be extended in late June/early July 2010.

Program Areas Hosting Pew Leadership Fellows

Pew Center on the States

Pew’s Center on the States (PCS) works to advance state policies that serve the public interest. PCS conducts credible research, brings together diverse perspectives, and analyzes states’ experiences to determine what works and what does not. We work with a wide variety of partners to identify and advance nonpartisan, pragmatic solutions for pressing problems affecting Americans. www.pewcenteronthestates.org

–          Policy/Advocacy Positions – Children’s Campaign

–          Research Positions – State Fiscal Policy and Government Performance

Pew Economic Policy Group

Pew’s Economic Policy Group (PEPG) combines a belief in the importance of upward mobility and the power of the market economy. In this spirit, we promote policies and practices that strengthen and ensure the future competitiveness of the U.S. economy by cultivating new bipartisan coalitions, informing critical national debates and striving toward meaningful policy change. www.pewtrusts.org/economicpolicy

–          Research Positions – Subsidyscope; Financial Reform

Pew Environment Group
The Pew Environment Group (PEG) is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts and focuses primarily on addressing the problems of climate change, the preservation of large intact wilderness ecosystems, and the protection of the global marine environment. www.pewenvironment.org

–          Policy/Advocacy  Positions – Campaigns; Government and Field Operations

–          Communications Positions

Pew Health Group

The Pew Health Group (PHG) seeks to improve the health and well-being of all Americans.  Based on research and critical analysis, the program advocates policies that reduce unacceptable health risks, focusing on areas that include food, medical and consumer product safety. www.pewtrusts.org/health

–          Communications Positions – Web and Media

–          Policy/Advocacy Positions – Financial Security Portfolio

We are an equal opportunity employer.