Eight UTSA students named legislative scholars for spring semester

Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon

State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon

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(Dec. 17, 2012) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio has selected eight students to participate in the 2013 UTSA Legislative Scholars program offered by the office of state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon. The students will serve as interns in the 2013 Texas Legislative Session, and each will receive a $10,000 stipend to support their participation in the program.

UTSA students with a commitment to public policy and public service were invited to apply for participation in the program. Those selected as the 2013 scholars include:

  • Eliana Briceno, Spanish and sociology double major and legal studies minor, interning in the office of Rep. Dawnna Dukes,
  • Ana Cabrera-M., honors studies major, legal studies minor, and art history and criticism minor, interning in the office of Rep. Senfronia Thompson,
  • Samantha Link, business management major and legal studies minor, interning in the office of Rep. Rob Orr,
  • Corbin Marak, political science major and legal studies minor, interning in the office of Rep. Lois Kolkhorst,
  • Travis Miller, political science major and legal studies minor, interning in the office of Rep. Jose Menendez,
  • Alexandra Rosales, criminal justice major and legal studies minor, interning in the office of Rep. Borris Miles,
  • Valerie Sullivan, a master's student in social work, interning in the office of Speaker of the House Joe Straus, and
  • Amarro Nelson, a master's student in sociology, interning in the office of Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon.

McClendon and UTSA Development Board member John T. Montford collaborated with UTSA to develop the Legislative Scholars Program in 2004. It provides undergraduates and graduate students with the opportunity to serve as legislative assistants in the Texas House of Representatives during regular legislative sessions.

Students are assigned to legislative offices, where they learn about the legislative process and perform important duties such as document writing, and proposal analysis and research that is related to bills, constituents and committees. The program is coordinated by the UTSA Honors College.

The scholars will earn six hours of internship credit for participating in the program, which is funded by a $25,000 gift from the AT&T Foundation and a $10,000 gift from Coca-Cola Bottling. While the students will receive $10,000 stipends during the program's five months to defray their expenses, they are responsible for their own housing, transportation and other expenses during their stay in Austin, where they are required to live to participate in the program.

"Each year we see increasing demand for UTSA students to serve in legislative internship programs," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "Lawmakers are seeking out our students because of their passion and for the high caliber of their work. I am so grateful to Rep. McClendon for her leadership and commitment to the Legislative Scholars program."

The 83rd Texas Legislature will convene from Jan. 8 to May 27, 2013, at the State Capitol in Austin. The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members elected for two-year terms. The Senate includes 31 members. This year, a number of key topics will be on the session agenda including higher education, a state water plan, transportation issues, gun control, abortion and legalized gambling.

McClendon was first elected to the Texas House in 1996, representing District 120 in San Antonio. Her service in the 2013 Legislative Session marks her ninth term in office.  She has served three terms as chair of the House Committee on Rules and Resolutions. During the 2009 and 2011 legislative sessions, she was a member of the House Committee on Transportation. She also has served five terms on the House Appropriations Committee, which writes the state's overall budget. Throughout her career, McClendon has authored, sponsored, co-sponsored and passed more than 172 bills. Her legislative priorities include improving educational opportunities for students, health care for children, the frail and the elderly, restorative justice programs and the improvement of Texas' transportation systems.