Baylor students were honored on the House and Senate floor of the Texas Legislature on Feb. 22.
The students were honored for being Bob Bullock Scholars and interns for the Texas Legislature. Rep. Charles Anderson was present and made remarks, as well as staff from the offices of Speaker Joe Straus, Sen. Kirk Watson , Rep. Kevin Roberts and various Baylor alumni, said Rochonda Farmer-Neal, Baylor director of government relations.
The Bob Bullock Scholars program was created in 2000 in coordination with the Bullock family, members of the Texas senate, and Baylor, according to its website. Bullock was a public servant for many years, serving as a Texas representative, assistant attorney general and lieutenant governor and president of the Texas Senate.
The program allows students to intern full-time with members of the Texas Legislature during the legislative session, Farmer-Neal said. Some students serve as receptionists, but some are given opportunities to attend hearings and report back to members of the legislature, assist in drafting bills, deal with scheduling and write letters to constituents, Farmer-Neal said. The students also do research and complete a report about their experiences working in the Texas legislature, Farmer-Neal said.
“Educationally, this has been very illuminating,” Buda sophomore and Bob Bullock scholar Clay Parham wrote in an email to the Lariat. “I want to work in government when I graduate, and it’s good to learn how the legislative branch functions. It’s both different and exactly as I thought it would be. I’m not learning theoretical information like at Baylor, and the real-world experience I’m getting is invaluable. I am also learning a lot about Texas politics, much more than I knew before, and it has gotten me much more connected with the state where I was born.”
The program is open to all majors, although many who participate are political science or international studies majors, said Dr. James Curry, Bob Bullock professor of public policy and administration, director of the Washington Internship Program and undergraduate program director.
“It really has, I think, great benefits for many majors,” Curry said. “We’ve had majors from other schools and other disciplines, as well, because there’s always something going on in the legislature that pertains to all aspects of life.”
While students are working in Austin, they have the opportunity to take a full course load consisting of independent study and reading courses, Curry said. Curry also said that a majority of the courses offered are political science courses, but students are able to take other courses, if they can find them. Bullock scholars also receive a stipend to assist with the costs of living in Austin, Curry said.
“The benefits are pretty clear,” Curry said. “There are a large number of former Bullock Scholars currently working in the Legislature…. They don’t have any trouble getting hired after they spent a session [in Austin] as Bullock Scholars.”
Curry said he is looking for students who are independent, mature and academically successful. The next group of Bullock scholars will be sent to Austin in spring 2019, Curry said, and will be selected by the end of the 2018 spring semester. Information sessions will be held on campus during the fall 2017 semester, Curry said.