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Featured, from left, Blanca Davila and Stephanie Méndez encourage students to apply for an Archer Fellowship. The application deadline for both the fall 2015 semester and the spring 2016 semester is Monday, February 23. For more information, contact Stephen Cisneros, Interim Director of Student Engagement, at 956-882-7152 or stephen.cisneros@utb.edu.

Photograph By LETTY FERNÁNDEZ

Stephanie Méndez and Blanca Davila are enthusiastic promoters of the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, an education program designed to provide students from throughout The University of Texas System with an intense learning and exploration experience in Washington, D.C. Students attending The University of Texas at Brownsville – who will be enrolled at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the fall – can apply to the Archer Fellows Program for the 2015–2016 academic year. Méndez, who will graduate from UT-Brownsville with her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Management in May, was an Archer Fellow during the fall 2014 semester. Davila, who will receive her Master of Public Policy and Management from UT Brownsville in May, participated in the Archer Graduate Program in Public Policy in summer 2014.

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Archer Fellows encourage students to consider a ‘life-changing’ semester in Washington, D.C.

BY LETTY FERNÁNDEZ

Stephanie Méndez and Blanca Davila are enthusiastic promoters of the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, an education program designed to provide students from throughout The University of Texas System with an intense learning and exploration experience in Washington, D.C.

Students attending The University of Texas at Brownsville – who will be enrolled at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the fall – can apply to the Archer Fellows Program for the 2015–2016 academic year. The application deadline for both the fall 2015 semester and the spring 2016 semester is
Monday, February 23.

Méndez, who will graduate from UT-Brownsville with her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Management in May, was an Archer Fellow during the fall 2014 semester. Davila, who will receive her Master of Public Policy and Management from UT Brownsville in May, participated in the Archer Graduate Program in Public Policy in summer 2014.

Students in the Archer program receive 15 credit hours and take communication, history, and policy classes along with a full-time internship of their choice.

“I encourage anyone who wants to broaden their horizons and learn more about how our federal government works to apply for this fellowship,” Méndez said. “There is still time to apply.”

“I grew so much during my Archer experience, being exposed to committed and driven people who greatly inspired me,” said Davila, who interned at Achieving the Dream (ATD), a non-governmental organization dedicated to helping community college students realize greater economic opportunity to achieve their dreams.

“At ATD, I did research on organizations and individuals who have key roles in education, determining ways that ATD can work with these foundations or people,” she said. “I also helped with strategic planning. My duties included collaborating with staff at Excelencia in Education, and that gave me experience working with a Hispanic-focused organization. I learned so much during this internship; it was invaluable experience.”

Méndez was a policy intern for the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics, housed at the U.S. Department of Education. She worked on the Federal Interagency Working Group, which is a group of federal agencies that strive to make investments in education that benefit the Hispanic community.

“I would maintain communication with participating agencies, helped set meetings, created talking points and briefings, and created a guide for the interagency working group,” she said.

At times, D.C. was like old home week for Méndez.

“I got to see Dr. Juliet V. García when she was honored at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, and I met with Congressman Filemón Vela (D-Brownsville),” she said. “I saw my school superintendent from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Dr. Daniel P. King, be honored at the White House for being a Champion of Change, and got to see our UT-RGV President, Dr. Guy Bailey, at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference.”

Every semester, approximately 40 students from UT System schools are named to be Fellows. Archer Fellows continue to receive financial aid or scholarships they would ordinarily qualify for as a full-time student on their home campus. Also, they are eligible to apply for scholarships made possible by supporters of The Archer Center and the Archer Fellow Alumni Association (AFAA).

“My expenses for the semester were more costly than staying here and living at home, but the benefit of participating in the Archer program was worth every penny,” Davila said. “I was very fortunate to receive assistance – financial and moral support – from so many sincere friends and acquaintances. Being an Archer Fellow, living and working in D.C., was a very humbling experience that enabled me to learn so much about life, work and leadership. I’ll always be enormously grateful to everyone who sponsored me on this journey.”

Davila and Méndez said among the many advantages of being an Archer Fellow is making new friends and colleagues, invaluable social and professional contacts that could help lead to continued internship opportunities and jobs after graduation.

“It was such an honor for me to represent UT Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley in our nation’s capital,” Méndez said. “This experience allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and see and experience a world I had never seen.”

About The Bill Archer Fellowship

The Bill Archer Fellowship was established by The University of Texas System in conjunction with former U.S. Representative Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington, D.C. to participate in varied internships and take part in classes focusing on policy, economics, and persuasion.

Students work with places such as the United Nations Information Centre, the U.S. Department of State, many offices within the White House and on the Hill, with federal agencies, and with non-profit organizations. The selection process is rigorous, and the program is afforded the opportunity to bring only the best representatives from throughout Texas.

Students who participate in the Bill Archer Fellowship Program can expect to have an exhausting, rewarding experience that will allow them to learn about how the federal government interacts within and outside itself. Students will make and maintain social and professional contacts that could help lead to continued internship opportunities and even jobs post-graduation. The support network is already large, and its alumni base is growing constantly with core groups in Austin, Dallas, Washington, New York, and Boston.

The Archer Center is the D.C. home of all academic programs and experiential learning for students, staff, faculty and alumni from the various campuses of The University of Texas System. William “Bill” Reynolds Archer Jr. partnered with his alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, and specifically with the College of Communication and the UT System Office of Federal Relations, to create The Archer Center.

About Congressman William “Bill” Archer, Jr., R-Houston

Congressman William “Bill” Archer, Jr., R-Houston, served in Congress from 1971 to 2001, finishing his career as Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives House and Ways Committee. He did not seek reelection.

As the Houston native was preparing to retire from Congress, he began to think about what he wanted to do with his legacy. He looked over his accomplishments while in public service and felt that he wanted to continue to build on a program he began as a freshman representative – an internship program that brought high school students from his district to Washington, D.C.

The program had been a very successful endeavor that allowed one representative student from each high school in the district to visit Washington over spring break and take lessons learned to their classes back home. Over the course of the 30 years that this program ran, Archer was able to give these students an experience in noble public service.

Archer felt that there could be a way to build upon this idea. He partnered with his alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, and specifically with the College of Communication and the UT System Office of Federal Relations, to create The Archer Center in Washington, D.C.

This Center was to be the D.C. home of all academic programs and experiential learning for students, staff, faculty, and alumni from the various campuses of the UT System. Over the course of the first two years, Archer helped to raise an endowment that would provide seed funding for a full-time staff member and a basic budget for the first programs. Archer made a generous donation as he closed out his campaign fund. Additionally, Conoco Phillips, Marathon Oil, the McGovern Foundation, El Paso Energy, and others helped to provide for the initial endowment.

In January 2001, just as Archer was shifting out of his life in public service and back to the private sector for the first time in 40 years, the inaugural class of the Archer Fellowship Program, comprised of 10 students from UT Austin, arrived in Washington, D.C.

To date, over 700 undergraduate and graduate students from across all UT System campuses have participated in The Archer Center’s programs. Fellows participate in a semester- or summer-long experiential learning program that allows each student to work in a full-time internship and attend courses that provide in-residence credit. Archer Fellows have worked at the White House, on the Hill, in various agencies and non-profits, in international organizations, and in governmental arms of private sector entities.

About The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 in a historic move that will combine the resources and assets of UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American and, for the first time, make it possible for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to benefit from the Permanent University Fund.

The institution will also be home to a School of Medicine and will transform Texas and the nation by becoming a leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare. UT-RGV will enroll its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine will open in 2016.

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