UH Moment

UH Moment: “White House”

Opportunity, they say, knocks once.  But one University of Houston alum found that seeking out opportunity set her up for professional success.

“The role of government is to provide security to its citizens, and provide policies for the betterment of the lives of the people in the country.”

It was into this role that Illy Jaffer jumped.  A University of Houston graduate in 2006,  Ilhaam “Illy” Jaffer  became part of the White House Advance Team, planning all aspects of the President’s trips here and abroad.

“My career started with an internship with the Center for Public Policy,” she said.  The Hobby Center for Public Policy internships give students hands-on experiences about public service in non profit, political and legislative environments.  “It took my life as a south Asian, Muslim-American woman and put it to a different perspective.”

As a intern with the Mickey Leland Fellows program she set her sights for the nation’s capitol and the legislative office of Eddie Bernice Johnson, where she researched policy, wrote news releases and attended the state of the union addresses.

“It changed my life.  Changed my life.  Changed my life,” she said. “Working in such an international and diverse building—everything in the world comes to Capitol Hill.  I am the only person in my family to have gotten a college degree. The things that I’ve done and seen because of that opportunity of going to D.C. is something that I never thought that I’d be able to experience ever.”

The contacts she made as an intern led her eventually to the White House.  Now a role model to other students, Jaffer urges them to be open to opportunity.

“It’s about the education and the skills, the hands-on work skills you’ve accumulated through he years,” she said. “Those internship really help students who have just recently graduated.   Because you’re ready to go.”

Opportunity is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.