"Education is the most beautiful thing I can do for myself."
Estefani Jimenez is a Hobby Fellow, an intern in a program from the UH Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP). She and 7 other students will spend the entire Texas Legislative session assigned to a legislator's office where they'll research, write, meet with lobbyists and constituents, and get a front row seat to the legislative process.
"I'm double majoring in political science and environmental science," she said. "I'm excited to be assigned to Rep. Ana Luna Hernandez's office. She's an alum and went to the same high school as I did."
This is the debut of the program that allows participants to earn up to 12 credit hours in political science while working fulltime in their legislator's office. For those hoping to pursue public service as a career, the value of working during the legislative session cannot be underestimated.
"Think about it. Texas is an incredibly large entity in terms of GDP and resources, but our state business is done withinfive months every two years," said Renee Cross, HCPP associate director. "It's all-hands-on-deck during the session. The students who work in Austin get so much more opportunities to do a variety of things in a five month period of time."
Former Texas Lt. Governor, Bill Hobby
Named for the former Texas Lt. Governor, the Hobby Fellows program is supported through private donations.
"Gov. Hobby and his whole family are iconic figures in the state of Texas and Houston, but particularly in political circles," she said. "Bill Hobby was known for working across the aisle, work together to create legislation that would benefit Texas. I think that particularly in today's political environment that is especially respected."
Many of the Hobby Fellows will pursue public service, following in the footsteps of other UH government intern/alums such as District Court Judge Al Bennett and State Rep. Armando Walle, and countless key staff leaders at all levels of government in Houston, Austin and Washington.
"There's an incredible sense of public service in these kids," Cross said. "You have these bright energetic enthusiastic students going off to Austin in January, and when they come back they are so knowledgeable, confident and poised. It's amazing how consistent that result is."
Hobby Fellows are part of what's happening at the University of Houston.