Archer Fellows Go to Washington

Last Updated on February 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP News Service

The largest group of UTEP graduate students to date have been selected to participate in a highly competitive public policy fellowship program in Washington, D.C.

The Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy, established by The University of Texas System, brings graduate students studying policy and politics to Washington to learn about public service and the federal government. The program is open to students from all disciplines.

Master of Social Work Students Elisa Dobler and Sara Polk are the first students from the Department of Social Work to participate in the Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

Master of Social Work Students Elisa Dobler and Sara Polk are the first students from the Department of Social Work to participate in the Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

Starting in May, political science graduate student Joshua Acevedo and Master of Social Work students Elisa Dobler and Sara Polk will spend 12 weeks in the nation’s capital learning about policy, politics and public service. They will work as interns on Capitol Hill, in the Executive Branch of government or at another Washington governmental or nongovernmental organization.

The Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy, established by The University of Texas System, brings graduate students studying policy and politics to Washington to learn about public service and the federal government. The program is open to students from all disciplines.

In addition to interning 40 hours a week, participants also will earn nine in-residence credit hours.

This is the first year students from the Department of Social Work have been selected for the fellowship.

Master of Social Work program coordinator Adam McCormick, Ph.D., said the experience will help Dobler and Polk identify things they could do to help advocate for fair policies that will benefit the populations they serve after they graduate.

“Elisa and Sara are going to be able to take this experience … and bring a lot to the border in terms of educating about policy,” he said.

Before joining the MSW program in August, Dobler was an English teacher at El Dorado High School. She was frustrated that some of her undocumented immigrant students were unable to attend college because they didn’t have access to financial aid.

Joshua Acevedo, a political science graduate student, will represent UTEP in Washington, D.C., this summer as a fellow in the Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

Joshua Acevedo, a political science graduate student, will represent UTEP in Washington, D.C., this summer as a fellow in the Archer Center’s Graduate Program in Public Policy. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

In her spare time, Dobler recruits undocumented students, also known as DREAMers, to apply for scholarships through TheDream.US.

She hopes to continue her work with the Dream Act while in Washington.

Polk, who earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and international education from Knox College in Illinois in 2010, hopes to get feedback about health care policy from students who are studying law, business and medicine.

“(This program) takes an interdisciplinary approach, so while I can bring the human rights and social justice side of it as a social work student, I also get to talk to someone who is a medical student and hear what their concerns are for policy,” Polk said. “Being able to collaborate on something as complex as policy is an amazing opportunity.”

Among the students with whom Polk will collaborate is Joshua Acevedo, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from UTEP in 2012 and is pursuing a master’s degree in political science.

While studying for his bachelor’s degree, Acevedo planned to apply for the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, which is also open to undergraduate students. However, his commitment to school and his role as president of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity made it impossible for him to spend a semester in Washington.

Instead, Acevedo jumped at the chance to apply for the graduate program in January.

“I would definitely want to work for one of the congressmen or maybe at the White House,” Acevedo said. “That would be a huge opportunity.”

Acevedo is currently writing about the White House staff for an encyclopedia project led by José D. Villalobos, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science. Acevedo also has worked as Villalobos’ teaching assistant for the past two semesters.

“Joshua is a fantastic, hard-working student and a very civic-minded member of the community,” Villalobos said. “He is very deserving of this opportunity, which will give him hands-on experience with the movers and shakers of the Washington Beltway.”

Fellows are responsible for covering the program’s expenses, which are estimated at $10,000 and include tuition, housing and associated costs, such as public transportation.

Scholarships may help defer some of the expenses. Acevedo plans to apply for financial aid.

McCormick said the Department of Social Work in the College of Health Sciences will host a child welfare conference in April and proceeds from the registration fees will be used to offset some of the expenses for Dobler and Polk.

Dobler and Polk have each set up their own website on GoFundMe.com to raise money for the program.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

The UTEP Public Information Office can assist media personnel with interview requests to speak with University administrators, faculty expert sources, or students; or to arrange campus visits for photography / videography shoots.

Call or email one of our media contacts with your name, outlet, deadline, and story idea or request to start an inquiry.

Veronique Masterson
Public Information Officer
Phone: 915.747.5526
E-mail: news@utep.edu

Elizabeth Ashby
Public Affairs Specialist
Phone: 915.747.5526
E-mail: news@utep.edu