Today@Sam Article

Austin Interns End Session On High Note

June 18, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Austin interns with Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott surprised SHSU's Austin interns with a special "thank you" at the end of the 84th legislative session. This year's Austin Internship Program participants included (from left): Ariel Traub, Jessica Rodriguez, Lupe Cuellar, Lexi Gonzales, Oscar Aguilar, Shelby O'Brien, Sadie McLaughlin, Sarah Landsman.  —Submitted photos

This story was written by Mike Yawn. 

Following five months in Austin, the eight participants in Sam Houston State University’s Austin Internship program approached their final day of work with bittersweet feelings. 

While the end of the session meant a welcome relief from the 140-day legislative session and long work hours, it also meant leaving recently-formed friendships, expanded professional networks, and the adrenaline high of working under public pressure. 

Sadie Mclaughlin, for instance, filled the semester with procedural work, assisting constituents and helping keep the schedule for Rep. John Otto, chairman of the appropriations committee.

For Ariel Traub, the end of the session brought resolution to the bills on which she worked, including one pertaining to court costs that failed, and another that streamlined the application process for job seekers, which passed.

Sadie McLaughlin
Intern Sadie McLaughlin filled her internship semester by assisting constituents and helping keep the schedule for Rep. John Otto.

Their final day, however, turned out to be more sweet than bitter, involving a meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott and receiving recognition from the House floor.

“That was a nice way to end the internship,” said Guadalupe Cuellar, who interned for Rep. Will Metcalf.  “We weren’t expecting that.” 

The meeting was arranged after members of the governor’s staff contacted Mike Yawn, AIP director, asking for a meeting to “thank the interns for their work this session.” 

“I don’t like to speak for the interns,” Yawn said, “but this seemed like a pretty easy decision.” 

The meeting was brief, with Abbott asking about SHSU, the interns’ work over the session, their offices, and other small talk.  It ended with a photograph and the governor thanking the students for their work.

Although the students would have liked to linger in the governor’s reception room, they had other places to be.  Reps. John Otto and Armando Martinez had scheduled a recognition of the interns from the House floor, and the students made haste to the House gallery.

Describing the interns as “noteworthy Texans,” the resolution thanked the students for their “outstanding service” and for capably handling their “important responsibilities” with “skill and dedication.” 

Otto, whose district includes SHSU, commended the university for its “wonderful” work with the internships and recognized each student from the House floor for a job well done.

Hours later, their jobs ended with the formal close of the 84th legislative session—but not before Abbott signed into law the bill streamlining the process of applying for government jobs, a final victory for Traub and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Charles Schwertner.

But the real victory for the students was laying the foundation for a promising future, according to Yawn.  

Shelby O’Brien was hired as Rep. Todd Hunter’s district scheduler in Corpus Christi; Traub accepted a position as field representative for Congressman Kevin Brady; Oscar Aguilar was offered several campaign jobs and is mulling over the one for which he would like to work; and Jessica Rodriguez is headed to Chicago to attend DePaul Law School this fall.

 “This is a great foundation to build on,” McLaughlin said. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

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