Tag Archives: Sophomore Advisors

Community Engagement Spotlight: How cycling plays into my life

Honors Students do so much more than just study and go to class. We encourage our students to find ways to weave together what they’re passionate about with what they do, and the post below from sophomore mechanical engineering major  Charles Arnold does an excellent job of illustrating how that can work out. When he’s not cycling or studying, Charlie may be found in the Honors Housing Community where he is serving this year as a Sophomore Advisor.

By Charlie Arnold ’19

I came to Texas A&M from a distant land known as “Kansas” for a quality education in engineering and affordable out of state tuition, but I also found some good times with the cycling team along the way. My first year was stressful with a new workload and new responsibilities, but I was always able to make time for cycling and doing the thing I love. When officer elections for the cycling team rolled around in the spring I instantly wanted to help the team and be involved. I became the vice president of road cycling and was determined to help the team, but before I could help the team I spent a summer helping provide affordable housing.

Build Day in Bremerton Washington. Left to right: Garret Jones, Colleen Flynn, Charlie Arnold, and Daniel Clarke
Build Day in Bremerton Washington. Left to right: Garret Jones, Colleen Flynn, Charlie Arnold, and Daniel Clarke

In my summer between freshman year and sophomore year I was taking classes, working a part time job, and raising money and volunteering for Bike and Build. Bike and Build is a non-profit that empowers young people to bike across the country raising awareness and volunteering for affordable housing. After I raised $2,500, finished the required 10 hours of volunteer work and my summer school, I drove to Oregon to start my Bike and Build trip. I rode 900 miles with twenty other participants through Oregon and Washington building at an affordable housing site every third day. I was able to see mountains, rivers, and sights that gave me shivers, but I also saw economic inequality, angry people in cars who hate cyclist, and good people doing great work for communities in Washington. Once our trip reached Seattle I was on a plane to College Station and started working on a new school year.

Once I was back at Texas A&M, I was able to resume my work with the cycling team. I created a video of the team to be entered into the Camelbak Collegiate Grant, and to our amazement our video won. We were selected with 4 other teams (One being UT-Austin, like what a coincidence?) to receive a $5,000 grant for the team as well as a trip to California for 2 team members to visit Camelbak HQ and receive the grant. The videographer Ryan Stankard and I were chosen to go to California. We left Monday November 7th and came back Wednesday November 9th. We had to miss school but with the permission of our professors and lots of studying on the plane it was well worth it.

While we were there we went for a ride in the beautiful hills of Petaluma, California with pro cyclist Andrew Talanski. Then we presented our video to Camelbak and the other winners, had a lesson on how to sell yourself from the hiring manager at Camelbak, had a photoshoot and interviews, talked with the Research and Development branch to see how their products are made, and finally took a tour of their lab (my favorite part, I’m a mechanical engineering nerd). I was extremely grateful to the team for letting me go on this trip and to my teachers for letting me take time away from class. #gotyourbak

Andrew Talansky and Charlie Arnold at Camelbak HQ in Petaluma, CA
Andrew Talansky and Charlie Arnold at Camelbak HQ in Petaluma, CA

My current projects include planning a joint training camp between Texas A&M cycling and UT cycling and creating a solar kit and shelter for use in rural Burkina Faso in West Africa for an “Engineers in Community Service” class. So yes, college is difficult and especially so with my additional responsibilities for the Honors program, but I still always find time for cycling, volunteering, and the things I love.

Want us to spotlight your community engagement? Send an email with details to honors@tamu.edu!

2015 Beckman Scholar – Brooke Versaw

A female student with dark hair and glasses, wearing a white shirt.
2015 Beckman Scholar Brooke Versaw ’18

Chemistry major Brooke Versaw ’18 from College Station, Texas, is the second of our three new Beckman Scholars from Texas A&M University. Versaw impressed the faculty, staff, and student application reviewers and interview panel with the breadth and depth of her experiences, her outstanding writing skills, and articulate, well-spoken answers. Versaw’s description of herself as “curious” and “persistent” was amply demonstrated by her ability to articulately discuss a variety of subjects from ethics to electric cars.

Versaw is a University Honors Program freshman and was chosen to be a Sophomore Advisor for the coming academic year for the Honors Housing Community. Her application for this leadership position emphasized rational thought, role modeling, and imaginative ideas to help create a sense of community between the two freshman Honors dorms. Versaw also spent her freshman year as a member of the TAMU Honor Council, which hears issues with respect to the Aggie Honor Code, the Student Affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society and as a National Aggie Scholar Ambassador.

Versaw got an early start in research, well before matriculating at Texas A&M in fall 2014.  She spent the summer of 2013 as a Robert A. Welch Foundation Chemistry Scholar with Dr. Junha Jeon at the University of Texas at Arlington investigating the mechanism of alkenyl silyl ether hydrolyzation. The following summer Versaw moved to Dr. Steve Lockless’ group in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M to study intracellular signaling using synthetic models of cellular membranes. Versaw’s interest in chemistry and chemical research was evident as early as high school, where she volunteered as a chemistry and physics tutor.

In June, Versaw will begin as a Beckman Scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Wooley on a research project using organic synthesis and polymerization strategies to build macromolecular structures that can be used to develop new materials.

Honors Students Selected for 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 700 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).

We are excited to announce that ten* students in the University Honors Program are among the 30 selected for PPIP internships in Washington, D.C. for Spring 2015 and Fall 2015:

David Cohen ’16 – International Studies & Economics

Julianna Ewell ’15 -Accounting

Elizabeth Freeman ‘17 – International Studies & Spanish

Jacob Arnett ‘17 – Economics & Philosophy

Andrew Baxter ’16 – Physics & Mathematics

Amanda Dick ’17 – Psychology

Alyson Miranda ‘17 – Bioenvironmental Sciences

Bridget O’Connell ’16 – History

Emily Parrish  ‘16– Economics

Kathryn Williams ‘16 – Economics & M.A. International Affairs


Emily Parrish '16
Emily Parrish ’16

Emily Parrish (EP), a junior economics major, and Andy Baxter (AB), a junior physics and mathematics double-degree student, took the time to share some insights about the PPIP program with us:

Where will you be interning?

EP: I am not placed in an internship yet but will be applying to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank on Capitol Hill, as well as to the Department of Commerce.

AB: This summer I will be working for the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) which is a division of the Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council in Washington D.C. As a part of this program I will be attending meetings with member companies as well as meetings on Capitol Hill.

What was the application and interview process like for PPIP?

EP: The application definitely took a good bit of time. It included finding recommendation letters as well as writing an essay concerning a specific policy interest. For those who are interested in policy, as I am, writing this essay is actually enjoyable. After the written application, I interviewed with a panel and then heard back about a week later.

Andy Baxter '16
Andy Baxter ’16

AB: The application process for PPIP was relatively simple. I filled out an application, wrote an essay on the importance of intelligence throughout the history of the United States, submitted a transcript, resume, and cover letter, and had three letters of recommendation sent to the office. My interview was essentially a normal interview. I was asked about my research and role as director of Freshmen Leaders in Christ (FLiC). Since my faith is the first priority of my life, I was asked why I did not preference Christian organizations as my first priority. I explained how Paul worked as a tentmaker while on mission so that he did not have to be a financial burden on the church. In the same way, I am seeking a secular career so that I can build up the financial stability to someday enter into full time ministry without having to be a financial burden on the church. The only unusual part of the interview was when the director or the program tried to grill me. She intentionally asked questions about my political views in order to challenge me. In particular, the series of questions led to my opinions on the Guantanamo Bay shutdown. To me, I found this part of the interview to be somewhat fun because I enjoyed the challenge and because I knew that the intention of the questions was to rattle me. Overall, the application process to PPIP was very simple.

After being accepted to PPIP, I met with the director of the program and determined a list of offices to apply for. I then proceeded to adapt my PPIP application materials to these offices and give them to PPIP. The director actually traveled to D.C. to meet with the employers, and within the next week I had three phone interviews. I was given offers at the end of the phone calls with BAE Systems and ITAPS. After a week of prayer and research, I decided to accept the offer with ITAPS. (I also applied to the CIA in the fall and received an offer as well. I went through this application process independently due to the early deadline although I could still apply this internship to PPIP.)

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

EP: I am a junior Economics major and have dabbled in business, international studies, and language courses during my time at Texas A&M.  In the future, I hope to have some part in policy-making for our country. I do not yet know what type of policy I would like to influence or how I want to go about this, but I am confident that the PPIP internship will give me valuable exposure to the opportunities that are available and best-suited to my interests.

AB: After graduation, my hope is to attend graduate school in the UK or Ireland on a national fellowship to study business and engineering while doing ministry on the side. After completion of my graduate degrees, I hope to work up to management level for developing technologies. Many of the companies that I will be interested in working for are member companies of ITAPS, so this experience will provide me with the ability to network with potential future employers.

For more information about the Public Policy Internship Program, 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.

*Corrected: The previous version of this post incorrectly listed nine students, omitting Julianna Ewell.