Preston Achilike | UT Austin
U.S. Department of Education
Preston Achilike is currently a doctoral student in the Education Leadership and Policy program at The University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a bachelor's degree in government and Spanish and Portuguese from the same institution. As an undergraduate, Preston studied and worked abroad in Argentina and Brazil, eventually leading him to his passions related to second language acquisition, quality bilingual programs, and empowerment of undeserved communities. After living abroad, he obtained master's degrees in secondary education in foreign language and Catholic school administration at Boston College. He also holds a master's degree in education policy and management from Harvard University. The majority of his professional experience has been in teaching Spanish and ESL within the Boston and Houston public school systems, as well as doing policy research related to legislation that impacts the quality of education for English Language Learners within the public school system. Currently, he serves as a Spanish instructor and the middle school coordinator of equity and inclusion at St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Preston's research interests stem from working with the State of Massachusetts Education Committee and experiencing first-hand how Sheltered English Immersion Programs often limit literacy of children in both English and their home language. He aspires to create his own bilingual school and potentially make it a model that other schools will follow.
Brandon Besses | UT Austin
U.S. Department of Education
Brandon Besses is a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin currently pursuing a master's degree in educational leadership and policy. He has a passion and desire for improving existing policy regarding higher education equity and access for all students. Upon graduation, Brandon plans to work as a higher education administrator on a university campus or within an organization dedicated to educational policy. He also has future plans to further his research interests and pursue a doctorate in educational leadership and policy.
Nathan Bumagny| UT Austin
American Enterprise Institute -- Critical Threats Project
Nathan is a Master of Global Policy Studies student at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs who hopes to work for the federal government after graduation. He earned a bachelor's degree in international relations and Arabic from The University of Texas at Austin before living in Morocco for a year. Nathan is a combat veteran and served for seven years in the Army National Guard, completing a tour in Afghanistan. After graduating from LBJ, Nathan hopes to serve in the State Department as a foreign service officer.
Mayra Cantu | UT Arlington
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Mayra Cantu is currently pursuing a master's degree in public administration at The University of Texas at Arlington with a focus on local government. Mayra currently works for the City of Grand Prairie as a management analyst. Her goal is to become a city manager and to venture into national politics.
Rebekah Chojnacki | UT Arlington
D.C. Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative
Rebekah Chojnacki is a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at The University of Texas at Arlington. Previously, Chojnacki earned a bachelor's degree (with honors) and a master's degree in communication, both at UT Arlington. She currently works full-time as an academic advisor for the Interdisciplinary Studies program in the Honors College at UT Arlington. Chojnacki is interested in educational initiatives for high-achieving students, especially students from underrepresented populations. She plans to continue working in higher education. Chojnacki enjoys reading, volunteering, Tae Kwon Do, and spending time with her husband and cat.
Paige Downer | UT Medical Branch
Public Health Accreditation Board
Paige Downer is a doctoral student at The University of Texas Medical Branch studying population health sciences. She has a Master of Public Health in epidemiology and a Bachelor of Science in mathematical sciences. Before pursuing her doctorate, Mrs. Downer worked as an epidemiologist for the Kent County Health Department in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to her studies, she currently serves as the vice president of her Graduate Student Organization and as a Curriculum Committee student representative. After graduation, Mrs. Downer hopes to continue her epidemiology career in Texas incorporating her research into public health policies and practice.
Norma Garza | UT Arlington
League of Latin American Citizen
Norma E. Garza is a doctoral student in experimental psychology at The University of Texas at Arlington. She recently earned her Master's of Science in the same field and from the same university. She also holds a Bachelor's of Science in psychology from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research focuses on attitudes toward immigrants and immigrant's mental/physical health outcomes. As an immigrant herself, she understands many of the prejudices and hardships immigrants go through and how that can affect their mental/physical health. This is why it is her career goal to influence policy for this, often times, vulnerable population through evidence-based research.
Charlotte Gorman | UT Austin
U.S. State Department -- Security, Law & Diplomacy
Charlotte Gorman is a first-year Master of Global Policy Studies student at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Charlotte graduated from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2016 with degrees in international relations and modern history. She has previously held internships at the Middle East Institute and the U.S. House of Representatives. Charlotte has been studying Arabic since the experience she had living abroad in Rabat, Morocco in 2014. Her studies are focused on U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy with a particular interest in the role of negotiations within conflict resolution. After graduating from the LBJ School, Charlotte hopes to become a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department.
Bethany Gutierrez | UT San Antonio
Bethany E. M. Gutierrez is a graduate student at The University of Texas at San Antonio pursuing her master's degree in social work (MSW) in the College of Public Policy. Bethany also holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from UT San Antonio. Previously, she served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) helping fight poverty in San Antonio, Texas. Her passion includes using research, analysis, strategy, and the experiences of people to influence policy by producing interventions and solutions that will breed a productive outcome for individuals. She anticipates applying her social work skills to influence policy.
Brittany Ikwuagwu | UT McGovern Medical School/ UT Health Science Center- School of Public Health
Brittany Ikwuagwu is a first year medical student at McGovern Medical School pursuing a dual Master's of Public Health degree at the UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. As an M.D. candidate and an aspiring Ob/Gyn, she not only wants to treat her patients, but advocate for them from a healthcare policy perspective as well. She hopes to one day be a part of the solution for lowering maternal mortality rates and make entering motherhood safer for all women.
Antonia Islas | UT Rio Grande Valley
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Antonia Islas is a first generation college student born and raised in South Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley where she is now pursuing a Master in Public Affairs. On campus, she remains active by participating as social chair for the Master of Business Administration Association and seeks to connect alumni and students to the local business community and promote economic development. Antonia's life experiences have taught her to respect and believe in herself and in others equally. Upon receiving a graduate degree, Antonia hopes to begin work in a public relations position for a federal agency and later pursue a doctorage degree and participate in research regarding national security and immigration policy.
Reena Jasani | UT Southwestern/UT Health Science Center at Houston- School of Public Health
Reena Jasani is a first-year medical student at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She is also pursuing a master's degree in public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. She completed her bachelor's degree in neuroscience with a minor in global health at Duke University. Jasani is currently interested in food waste and security. Ultimately, she hopes to integrate her clinical experience and the input from individual patients to create policies improving the healthcare delivery of populations.
Da Hei Ku | UT Austin
Department of Housing & Urban Development
Da Hei Ku is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in early childhood education. Her research focuses on how social context constructed by housing and education policies affects children, families, and educators. Ku is also an intern at Texas Education Agency in the Division of Early Childhood Education.
Carol Lopez | UT Rio Grande Valley
Smithsonian -- K-12
Carol Lopez is currently studying to receive her Master of Art in Interdisciplinary Studies in art history with a focus in Latin American art and architecture at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, with minors in history and anthropology. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the same institution. She aspires to join the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the Collection Management Department and continue her studies to become a Museum Art Curator. Carol also wishes to help improve the relationship between museums and public schools. It is because of an art museum that Carol Lopez is now a graduate student at UT Rio Grande Valley and an Archer Fellow in Washington, D.C.
Zakariya Mahmod | UT Health Science Center at Houston- School of Public Health
National Association of Community Health Officials -- Environmental & Occupational Health Safety
Zakariya Mahmod is completing his master's degree in environmental & occupational health sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Zakariya is working towards building a strong foundation in politics and policy-making to support his career goal of becoming a policy analyst in the field of environmental health. His various research projects, from building a sustainability garden to cancer drug testing allows him to view issues in a multifaceted way and approach policies from a hard science background. He is motivated to preserve the environment in order to conserve the American dream in respect of future generations that follow.
Marissa Marinello| UT Austin
Darfur Women Action
Marissa Marinello is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing dual masters degrees at the Lyndon B. Johnson Graduate School of Public Affairs (MPAff) specializing in International Affairs, and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work (MSSW). Marissa graduated from Michigan State University with bachelors degrees in Anthropology and Arabic. As an Arabic Flagship Scholar Marissa lived in Morocco studying Modern Standard Arabic, and Moroccan and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Marissa plans to work on refugee policy in the Middle East and North Africa creating and analyzing policies that preserve human rights and freedoms.
Todd McDonald | UT Dallas
Center for Strategic & International Studies -- International Political Economy
Todd McDonald is a student at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is currently pursuing his Master of Science in International Political Economy. Prior to attending U.T. Dallas, Mr. McDonald served in the Army's 173rd Airborne Infantry and attended Kilgore College and Texas State University. After graduation, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Public Affairs. He hopes to work with some international development organization and improve the lives of people living in poverty.
Edda Pleitez | UT Health Science Center at Houston- School of Public Health
Global Financial Integrity
Edda is in an accelerated dual-degree program at the School of Public Health and the School of Public Affairs. She will graduate in May 2020 with a Master of Public Health and a Master of Global Policy Studies. She hopes to build a career in global health and global development.
Devin Plote| UT MD Anderson
National Association of Community Health Officials
Devin is a PhD candidate at UT MD Anderson studying the mechanisms and effects of Innate Immune therapy in Urothelial Carcinoma. Devin is passionate about science education, advocacy, and community outreach, and serves on the Board for her graduate school's Outreach Organization, as well as the local chapters of AWIS and Zonta International NP, serving girls and women in the Houston community. She is interested in pursuing a career in public service and community health, with opportunities to continue being a science advocate.
Adam Richards |UT Dallas
Family Equality Council
Adam Richards is a political science, legislative studies masters student at the University of Texas at Dallas. They have been extensively involved in both LGBT+ activism and ministry work, serving as the president of both an LGBT+ organization (Rainbow Guard) as well as a campus ministry (Wesley at UTDallas). After graduate school, Adam plans to attend seminary and become ordained in the United Methodist Church in order to start a ministry focused on activism and social justice.
Amanda Smith |UT Dallas
National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
Amanda Smith is a student at UT Health Science Center School of Public Health where she is earning a Master's degree in Public Health, with a focus on Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. Amanda also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physiology Health Management from Southern Methodist University. In the past, she has worked for the YMCA and the Texas Hunger Initiative on Community Health programs and is passionate about nutrition and food security. Amanda hopes to have a career focused on improving health outcomes for underprivileged communities and achieving health equity for all.
Rocky Sonemangkhara | UT Tyler
Rocky Sonemangkhara is a graduate student at The University of Texas at Tyler pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Nursing (FNP). He currently works at UT Southwestern Medical Center as a Registered Nurse in the Medical ICU. Having worked with many different patients of varying backgrounds, he hopes to further his career aspirations of becoming a Chief Nursing Officer one day to decrease the barriers associated to healthcare. His career interests include quality improvement, risk management, educational initiatives, and community outreach. He plans on working in health policy to decrease healthcare disparities in vulnerable populations.
Lauryn Spearing |
Lauryn Spearing is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow pursuing her MS and PhD in Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Bachelorâ€™s degree from The University of Texas at Austin prior to beginning her graduate studies. She is passionate about increasing peopleâ€™s quality of life by improving the level of service received from infrastructure. Her research interests include studying the human interaction with the built environment, infrastructure systems management, and engineering project organization. After graduation, Spearing hopes to pursue a career where she can advocate for communities and provide implementable policy solutions.
Karlyn Tunnell | UT Southwestern
Institute for Medicaid
Karlyn Tunnell is an MD/MPH student at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. She received her bachelor's degree in Biology from Texas Christian University in 2017 and completed a year as an Americorps member with City Year Dallas before starting medical school. After graduation, Karlyn plans to enter a residency in psychiatry. She hopes to use her experience in Archer and public policy to advocate for and address the issue of healthcare inequality.
Deon Turner | UT San Antonio
Deon Turner is a first-generation Graduate Assistant for Campus Recreation at The University of Texas at San Antonio and a candidate for a Master of Education Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Completing a legal internship with the Migrant Center for Human Rights, Deon engaged with refugees and asylum-seekers longing for security and liberty from fear. Experiencing a congressional internship for U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Deon encountered how federal, state, and local legislation directly impacts a constituency. As an AfroLatino, Deon performs phenomenological qualitative research of AfroLatinx students and faculty navigating the complexities of higher education. His compassion for others motivates a critical lens and social-justice pedagogy, inspiring his mission to affect positive change in todayâ€™s tumultuous society.
Angela Wang | UT Southwestern
American Association of Medical Colleges
Angela Wang is a first-year medical student at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, as well as a concurrent Master of Public Health student at The University of Texas Health Science Center. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Human Rights and Biochemistry from Southern Methodist University. In college, she worked extensively as a sexual assault victim advocate with the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, with which she published educational content for friends and family of sexual assault survivors. Her policy interests include improving health access, women's rights, nutrition education, and humanitarian efforts.
Lexie Wille | UT Austin
Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States
Lexie Wille is a first-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at The University of Texas at Austin. After completing her bachelor's degree in biology and psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, she spent two years working as a research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. Her primary research and professional interests lie in improving the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health services for the LGBTQ community. Following graduation, Lexie hopes to transform empirical research findings into programs and policies that will promote well-being for LGBTQ individuals across the country.
Josh Yudkin | UT Health Science Center at Houston- School of Public Health
National Institute of Health
Josh Yudkin MA, MPH is completing his Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Previously, he has worked in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Josh's research portfolio is global -- spanning from India to Mexico -- and includes culturally-tailored public-health interventions that focus on multi-level factors. His current research focuses on chronic cardio-metabolic conditions such as obesity and colon cancer. Josh is active with both local and international organizations focused on education, dialogue, and community building. In fact, he currently serves as the president of the student association on his local campus.
Delina Zapata | UT Health Science Center - Houston
Delina received a BA in Sociology of Education with a Minor in Spanish from DePaul University, a MA in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Michigan, and is currently a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin
Delina's personal life and academic experiences as a student and teacher's aide in Chicago public elementary schools have lead her to path as a first year doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Planning program at the University of Texas at Austin. Delina is interested in looking to under-researched Dual Language Programs as an academic intervention for Latino English Language Learners (ELLs). Her career goals are to produce equitable educational research and be at the forefront of education policy making.