Summer 2022 Graduate Archer Fellows
Hannah Berendzen | The University of Texas at Austin
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Hannah Berendzen is a pursuing a doctoral degree in human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in family and human development and a minor in sociology. Berendzen is passionate about using research as a tool for child advocacy through public policy. Specifically, she is interested in how schools can support the mental health of students who have experienced trauma. In addition, Berendzen is interested in alleviating disciplinary disparities in schools through evidence-based programs and policies.
John "JD" Carlton | The University of Texas at Austin
John “JD” Carlton is pursuing a master’s degree in marine science at The University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on deep-sea microbial ecology and how these microorganisms drive global cycles of crucial chemicals and nutrients. As a legislative intern for Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini in 2019, Carlton found a desire to be actively involved in policy as a scientist. He hopes to work at the intersection of marine science and policy, inspiring productive policy dialogue to care for the world's oceans and marine life.
Aaron Carrillo | The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Physicians for a National Health Program
Aaron Carrillo is a first-year medical student at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is a recent graduate of UT Rio Grande Valley where he received a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences and a minor in chemistry. On campus, he has served as vice president of the Texas Medical Association Medical Student Section and is passionate about improving healthcare delivery in marginalized communities. He is particularly interested in preventative medicine and plans to use his experience as an Archer Fellow to address barriers preventing access to adequate patient care.
Joshua Choe | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means – Health Subcommittee
Joshua Choe is a medical student at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor's degree in biophysics. He completed a health policy internship at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2019 and worked as a part of a drug pricing research group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that advised federal agencies and congressional committees after graduating from college. After medical school, Choe hopes to become an emergency medicine physician and work in the health policy arena on the side, effecting systemic changes to the issues he sees in the clinics.
Victoria De Anda De Alva | The University of Texas at El Paso
Central American Resource Center
Victoria De Anda De Alva was born and raised in Juarez, Chihuahua. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Latin American and border studies at The University of Texas at El Paso. She graduated with summa cum laude honors from UT El Paso in 2020 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a minor in political science. She worked for three years as an undergraduate research assistant in research projects on public and reproductive health in El Paso and was recently a teaching assistant for the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies.
Laura Gallardo | The University of Texas at San Antonio
Laura Gallardo is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at The University of Texas at San Antonio. After graduating with her undergraduate degree from the University of Houston in 2020, Laura decided to dedicate her academic career to public service. She was recently a social work intern with the City of San Antonio’s homeless outreach team, where she has gained insight to how policy affects underserved communities. She has also worked with the Leadership and Volunteer Services at UT San Antonio as a graduate assistant, where she organized campus-wide service events. Upon graduation, her goal is to work in policy and advocacy for marginalized communities.
Alyssa Rae Garza | The University of Texas at El Paso
Institute for Policy Studies – Climate Policy Program
Alyssa Rae Garza is pursuing a master’s degree sociology from The University of Texas at El Paso. She assisted in research concerning water sustainability in the Southwest region during her undergraduate studies. This research led her to develop a passion for climate justice and learn from local grassroots coalitions and movements. As an Archer Fellow, she hopes to apply sociological frameworks in a physical capacity, amplify her community’s story, and gain knowledge from the internship. After graduating, she plans to enter the community organizing sector and focus on contributing to the movement for climate justice, racial equity, and transformation change.
Karina George | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Council of Large Public Housing Authority
Karina George is a second-year graduate student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pursuing a master’s degree in management, policy, and community health with a certificate in global health. She graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in biology and medicine and society. Her experiences engaging with her community, particularly as an Albert Schweitzer Junior Fellow, have informed her passion for addressing the systemic inequities that adversely impact minoritized communities. George is committed to approaching her work through an intersectional lens, and her research and advocacy interests include Asian-American and LGBTQ+ mental health, systems thinking, and disparities in access to health care.
Amanda Gomez | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
John Snow, Inc.
Amanda Gomez is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in the School of Public Health (Austin campus). She is studying epidemiology and plans to pursue a certificate in health disparities. She has been involved with the Austin chapter of the Student Society for Global Health and has previously completed volunteer work for a mental health nonprofit. Along with mental health, Gomez is interested in focusing on public health in urban populations and specifically has an interest in healthcare disparities in inner-city communities. After graduation, Gomez hopes to work for a school system or local government organization to work on community health projects in inner cities.
Ryan Hurt | The University of Texas at Austin
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Ryan Hurt is a first-year graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public affairs through the LBJ School of Public Affairs and hopes to one day utilize policy research as a means of advocacy. In 2021, he graduated from UT Austin with a bachelor degree in government and Plan II honors and was awarded the J.J. Pickle Citizenship Award for his various contributions to campus throughout his time on the Forty Acres. This past year, in addition to being a teaching assistant for undergraduate classes, he served as a Policy Fellow for the Texas Association of Community Colleges and helped develop legislative and fiscal strategies for community college success throughout the state. He is interested in higher education policy, government accountability, and public financial management.
Melissa A. Ibarra | The University of Texas at Austin
Melissa A. Ibarra is pursuing a doctoral degree in bilingual/bicultural education at The University of Texas at Austin. She taught multilingual children for ten years in Texas, New York, and Hawai’i. She served as a mentor for new teachers in the Austin Independent School District where she also worked as a research assistant on a federally funded grant to support the implementation of restorative practices. Ibarra plans to use her summer experience in Washington, D.C., to understand how education policy can be transformed to address inequities in education so that all children have an opportunity to succeed in America’s public schools.
Angela Jensen | The University of Texas at Arlington
Office of U.S. Representative
Colin Allred (TX-32)
Angela Jensen is a graduate student at The University of Texas at Arlington pursuing a master's degree in political science. She has been a teacher for six years and is passionate about the mental health and wellness of her students, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jensen plans to use the knowledge gathered through the Archer Fellowship to impact education policy in addition to better serving and advocating for her students in the classroom.
Afeefah Khazi-Syed | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
National Academy of Medicine
Afeefah Khazi-Syed is a medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering with a minor in urban studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Having worked in clinical spaces, the pharmaceutical industry, and the policy world, Khazi-Syed discovered a deep interest in the overlap of infectious disease and public health. Through the Archer Fellowship, she strives to become well equipped to empower future patients and transform health systems.
Aastha Krebs | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Mental Health America Greater Dallas
Aastha Krebs is a pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing at the Cizik School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Krebs earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in healthcare management from Western Governor’s University after receiving her associate’s degree in nursing from Lone Star College. An immigrant, Greater Houston Community Foundation scholar, and future psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, Krebs is passionate about improving access to quality mental health care. Her specific interest lies in working with the Houston Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Response Team. This innovative program partners clinicians with law enforcement officers to provide the highest-level response to individuals in serious mental health crisis.
Alexander Lafrance | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority
Alexander Lafrance is pursuing a doctoral degree in molecular microbiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His research focuses on the structure, function, regulation, and interactions of toxins and other molecular tools utilized by pathogenic bacteria to cause disease. As a rural New Englander turned urban Texan and amateur history buff, Lafrance is passionate about bridging communication gaps between disciplines, demographics, and cultures to foster collaboration, promote education, and reduce partisanship. He hopes to apply his research background to multidisciplinary biodefense and national security initiatives, and through his Archer Fellowship experience, plans to pursue a career in intelligence analysis and national security policy.
Carol Lahana | The University of Texas at Dallas
The Lone Star Project
Carol Lahana is a pursuing a master’s degree in criminology at The University of Texas at Dallas. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in psychology in May 2022. Lahana has previously served as a peer advisor for University Housing at UT Dallas. After graduating with her master’s degree, she plans to seek employment with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and hopes her time as an Archer Fellow will prepare her for professional life.
Michaela LaPatin | The University of Texas at Austin
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Michaela LaPatin is pursuing a doctoral degree in civil engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. She graduated from Bucknell University with bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and management. She then worked in construction management for five years, gaining valuable experience and earning her professional engineering license. LaPatin currently researches sociotechnical systems, studying the impact of the built environment on communities. She is passionate about the intersection of research and policy that center on equity and justice.
Anita Raquel Limas | The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Office of U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15)
Anita Raquel Limas is a graduate student at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley pursuing a master's degree in business administration and specializing in healthcare administration. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in government. Limas has held leadership positions and sat on advisory boards for organizations at the local and regional levels aimed to champion educational equity and economic development. She has also worked as director of operations for a primary home care agency and has more than ten years of experience overseeing care of Medicaid-eligible clients across the region. As an Archer Fellow, Limas intends to gain advocacy experience at the national level to serve the Latinx community and the Rio Grande Valley in pursuit of educational and healthcare equity.
Diana Long | The University of Texas at Austin
Excelencia in Education
Diana Long is a pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy at The University of Texas at Austin. A first-generation college student, Long earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is interested in the intersection of policy, research, and theory in education. Long’s personal background and research experiences in the areas of Latino education, access to quality preschool, and school finance motivated her to pursue a career in education policy. She hopes to use her Archer Fellowship experience to learn and grow as a scholar in a professional setting and make a positive impact in the public education system for generations to come.
Amethyst Morgan Marroquin | The University of Texas at San Antonio
Amethyst Morgan Marroquin is a graduate student at The University of Texas at San Antonio pursuing a master’s degree in sociology. Marroquin received her bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of South Carolina Aiken. Her work experience is in diversity, equity, and inclusion education and social science research. Upon graduation, Marroquin hopes to use her experience as an Archer Fellow to advocate for a holistic approach to border policy that accounts for this multidimensional reality of the migrant experience.
Jennifer Milczewski | The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Jennifer Milczewski, originally from Chardon, Ohio, is currently pursuing a master's degree in strategic management and data analytics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is an alumna of the University of Toledo in Ohio where she earned her bachelor’s degree in finance and business law. Milczewski was also the recipient of the Global Impact Award for her contributions to a corporate merger from her former employer, Zimmer Biomet, a fortune 500 company. As an Archer Fellow, she aims to close the digital divide by improving access to high-tech education in underserved.
Kimberly Morrison | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
National Institutes of Health
Kimberly Morrison is a graduate student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in business. She assisted in developing the UTHealth ICARE program, an interdisciplinary curriculum model to empower students to work with underserved populations while teaching cultural competency and community engagement. She is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and habits that reduce the human impact of climate change. She hopes to use her experience as an Archer Fellow to understand the policy that helps shape these aspects of human behavior.
Arushii Nadar | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
DC Health - Health Regulation Licensing and Regulation
Arushii Nadar is pursuing a joint degree in medicine and public health at The University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2019. Nadar has a deeply rooted desire to work with people to improve their lives and health, which includes advocating for reducing healthcare disparities and increasing access to quality care. She hopes to use her experience as an Archer Fellow to learn how to better serve her future patients and the community at large.
Ifeoma Okoli | The University of Texas Permian Basin
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress
Ifeoma Okoli is a graduate student at The University of Texas Permian Basin pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Nnamdi Azikiwe University in 2004. Okoli has spent nearly a decade exploring treatment solutions and inclusion practices for neuropsychological conditions that present with cognitive impairment. Her advocacy and practicum experiences exposed her to the complex disparities between existing inclusion policies, classroom practices, and the learning needs of students with cognitive impairment. Okoli wants to be involved in improving inclusion effectiveness for students with cognitive impairment. She hopes that her work as a clinical and research psychologist contributes treatment solutions and classroom practices that improve the learning capability and quality of life of individuals with neuropsychological disorders.
Oluwatosin Oyadiran | The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Oluwatosin Oyadiran is pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Oyadiran received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, in 2014. She proceeded to earn her medical degree from Avalon University School of Medicine in 2021. As an international student, Oyadiran is interested in increasing access to care among socially disadvantaged individuals. She is passionate about primary prevention, health promotion, and chronic diseases. After graduating, Oyadiran will continue to pursue public health while exploring opportunities in medicine.
Ashika Parker | The University of Texas at Austin
Policy Equity Group
Ashika Parker is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in education policy and planning at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from UT Austin in 2016 and worked as an upper elementary STEM teacher in Austin ISD for five years after graduation. Through her time as a teacher, she dedicated herself to promoting equity and inquiry-based learning practices as well as social justice values in her classroom and campus. Her experience as a teacher and commitment to her students led her to pursue a career in which she can have a voice in shaping policy for children from vulnerable communities. Currently, she works as a graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students at UT Austin, developing and delivering leadership curriculum for undergraduate students. Parker hopes to utilize her experience in the Archer Fellowship to examine the ways education policy works with civil rights, immigration, and urban development to create equitable opportunities for all children.
Jacob “Jake” Qurashi | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
DC Health– State Health Planning and Development Agency
Jacob “Jake” Qurashi is pursuing a joint degree in medicine and public health at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. His work experiences include caring for critically ill children at level-one trauma centers and aboard fixed and rotor-wing aircrafts as a flight nurse. As an aspiring pediatric intensivist and transport medical director, Qurashi plans to use his experiences with the Archer Fellowship to shape emergency medical services regulation and improve access to critical resources for children.
Mrinal Ranjan | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Maverick Health Policy
Mrinal Ranjan is a second-year graduate student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pursuing a master's degree in public health with a focus in epidemiology and a certificate in genomics and bioinformatics. Ranjan received a bachelor’ degrees in dentistry from Manipal College of Dental Sciences, India. She is passionate about cancer genomics and social determinants affecting cancer outcomes in women. In the future, she hopes to work with women’s cancer health outcomes and behavioral modifications to improve these outcomes, working to implement these policies into standard care.
Mia Schmolze | The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Physicians for a National Health Program
Mia Schmolze is an Austin, Texas, native pursuing a degree in medicine at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She obtained a bachelor's degree in English from Rice University where she also competed on the women's soccer team. Before entering medical school, she received a master’s degree in medical sciences from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Schmolze has served as her medical school's delegate to the Texas Medical Association where she advocates for individuals experiencing homelessness to have equitable access to healthcare. By volunteering with various organizations that aid victims of sex trafficking, homeless individuals, and immigrants, Schmolze has cultivated a passion for helping medically underserved communities. After graduation she intends to be a physician advocate for healthcare equity who fights to end socioeconomic health disparities.
Valerie Sterne | The University of Texas at Austin
National Coalition for School Diversity
Valerie is a third-year doctoral student in educational policy and planning at The University of Texas at Austin. She has more than 15 years of experience as an educator, spanning a special needs school in England, an international school in the Middle East, and charter and public schools in Texas. She has served as a special education teacher, elementary classroom teacher, middle school math teacher, instructional coach, and elementary school assistant principal. She is interested in studying education policies that impact equity in P-12 schools and more broadly create social change. She is currently studying racial and economic segregation, opportunity hoarding, and educational outcomes. She earned a bachelor's degree in child study and language development from Southwestern University and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Michigan State University.
Daniel Szabo | The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Maverick Health Policy
Daniel Szabo is a third-year graduate student pursuing a joint degree in medicine and public health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is interested in specializing in preventive medicine and preventing diseases through program administration, public communication, and governance. As a physician and an environmentalist, he hopes to investigate within environmental health and advocate to policymakers for healthier environments. Through the Archer Fellowship, he hopes to gain connections with those in Washington, D.C., already working within this field. Szabo received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 2018.
Roberto Tejada | The University of Texas at El Paso
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Roberto Tejada is a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in economics at The University of Texas at El Paso. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Texas at Austin. He has experience working as a communications assistant for The University of Texas System and as a teacher’s assistant for UT El Paso. He has also written and directed a successful short film while pursuing his undergraduate degree. Tejada hopes to apply his experiences in the Archer Fellowship towards his goal of becoming a public sector economic analyst.
Pooja Tewari | The University of Texas at El Paso
National Nuclear Security Administration – Office of International Nuclear Security
Pooja Tewari is pursuing a master’s degree in public health at The University of Texas at El Paso. She graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and health and society. Her key interest is in global and international health. She has worked in this field through her research abroad in Scotland, and her study abroad program in health practice and policy in England. For her thesis, she has partnered with a community health organization in Ecuador to examine cervical cancer risk. As an Archer Fellow, Tewari intends to address harmful public health policies that perpetuate health inequities.
Yaxeni Valero | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
National Hispanic Health Foundation – Program Management
Yaxeni Valero is pursuing a master’s degree in health service organizations at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Valero received a bachelor’s degree in global health from Georgetown University with a minor in women’s and gender studies. She has served as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Research and is focused on understanding health disparities that exist among minority and vulnerable populations while exploring how they can be improved. Additionally, she has a special interest in women’s health and rights. In the future, Valero hopes to work closer to policy to advocate for better policies that reduce barriers to fair, accessible, and affordable health services.
Alexandra Villarreal | The University of Texas at Austin
U.S. House Judiciary Committee – Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee
Alexandra Villarreal is a doctoral student in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on immigration and asylum policy in the United States, with a particular interest in the definition of asylum. In 2017, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude as a Hispanic studies major at Columbia University in New York City. Since then, she has had a front-row seat to the defining moments of the last half-decade as a journalist for The Guardian, The Associated Press, NBC, and other media outlets. Her academic work is directly informed by her reportage during the Trump and Biden administrations.
Loren Welles | The University of Texas at Austin
Center for American Progress – Education Department
Loren Welles is pursuing a master’s degree in education policy and planning at The University of Texas at Austin. Her background in teaching public school sparked her passion for policy and her broad research interests. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in music performance. After graduation, she plans to work on educational equity issues and systemic improvements for students and teachers.
Anthony Zhang | The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Pear Therapeutics – Advocacy and Policy Relations
Anthony Zhang is pursuing a joint degree in medicine and public health at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and public health, a minor in government, and a focus in health policy. He has a longstanding interest in American politics and civics and was president of TX Votes, a student-run civic engagement and nonpartisan Get Out the Vote organization at UT Austin. As a physician, he hopes to be an advocate for reforming the U.S. healthcare system to make it more affordable and equitable.