Seven graduate students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University are getting an up-close view of the 85th session of the Texas Legislature as part of their capstone course. Led by Bush School professor Dr. Ann Bowman, the students arrived in Austin in early January ready to apply their Bush School education as they work on the many public policy issues confronting the State of Texas.
The students are hired to work in the offices of members of the Texas House of Representatives and Senate or for legislative committees for the duration of the legislative session. They serve as legislative aides and analysts and quickly find themselves in the thick of the action. These positions offer students the opportunity to learn a great deal about how state government functions. In addition, students can take advantage of numerous networking opportunities provided by Bush School graduates who are working or have worked in the legislature.
“These offices are adding motivated, well-informed, and highly skilled individuals to their team,” Dr. Bowman said of the students currently serving in Austin. “Legislatures are fascinating policymaking institutions, replete with rules and norms that are seldom seen by the public. The University and the state benefit as well from the work of these talented master’s students who are committed to public service.”
In addition to their legislative work, the students take classes during the semester, typically online courses. They spent the fall semester preparing for the experience by learning all they could about legislatures in general and the Texas Legislature in particular.
Four sets of Bush School capstone students have worked in the legislature, which meets every other year. Not unlike other Bush School capstones, at the end of the semester, they will produce an in-depth research report. The focus of this year’s report will be on lawsuits filed by the State of Texas challenging the federal government. In previous years, the Texas Legislative capstones have studied the legislative redistricting process, the Texas rainy day fund, and the professionalization of the Texas legislature.
The students serving at the Capitol are:
- Rebekah Calahan, Representative Gary VanDeaver’s Office
- Danielle Drastata, Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
- Ann Marie Garcia, House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism
- Matthew Gaskin, Representative Helen Giddings’ Office
- Jesus Perales, Senator José Rodríguez’s Office
- Patrick Philpott, Senate Committee on Education
- Theo Plowman, Representative J. M. Lozano’s Office