Fifteen students stumble nervously into the nation’s capital, each one, at least symbolically, wearing the UT System bumper sticker for others to see.
Of the 15, five come from UTD, the rest from UT Austin.
These are the members of the fall 2004 class of the Bill Archer Fellowship Program – the UT System version of “UT in D.C.” The program is a part of the Bill Archer Center that lobbies on behalf of the university.
By aiding selected students obtain internships in such Washington institutions as the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and the World Bank, the Archer Fellowship program simultaneously has provided its fellows with first-class Beltway experiences and elevated the profile of the System.
According to Jenifer Sarver, formerly of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) office and new program director for the program, Archer Fellows have “increased awareness of the intellectual capacity and leadership skills of UT (System) students.”
The UTD contingent for fall 2004 includes government and politics majors Jonathan Boos, Casey Edwards, Ausra Laurusaite, Mary Makary and Sophie Rutenbar.
Edwards, a senior, was president of the University Democrats and currently interns with U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
“I am learning a lot and have been doing work with ‘No Child Left Behind’,” Edwards said of his new internship. “Working 9 a.m.-6 p.m. is a different story, new and difficult.”
Makary, a junior, who interned with the Office of (Dallas) Mayor Laura Miller, is now the third UTD student to intern at the U.S. Supreme Court in the Office of the Curator. Fellow junior Rutenbar, who served as student government vice president last year, is interning with the Africas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A senior who speaks five languages, including Lithuanian and Russian, Laurusaite now brings her perspective to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Boos, a junior, aspires to attend law school with an eye on creating public policy one day. He is interning for the Heritage Foundation.
The new Archers report Washington is a politically-driven city that’s all business during the day and all fun at night. Such a perspective may seem obvious, but for newcomers, the experience can be overwhelming.
“It’s very intense during the day because everyone is so dedicated to their job, ” Rutenbar said. “But then there’s so much to do at night – lots of partying. Perhaps I should call it ‘networking.'”
The new Archers also share a glowing review of new director Sarver.
“She’s very knowledgeable of D.C., and she has so many connections,” Rutenbar said. “She relates well (with students) and takes an interest in our lives.”
“(Jen) gets things done,” Edwards said. “(She) is energetic, engaging and smart.”
Former Program Director Katherine Murray echoed the new class’s enthusiasm for Sarver.
“We’re extremely lucky to have a friend and colleague that’s been familiar with the program since the start,” Murray said. “She shares the vision of growing the program.”
Murray also expressed the importance of UTD’s contribution, noting that the campus was the first one she worked with when the program began three years ago.
“UTD students really drive home the point that the UT System is more than just one campus – that it’s more than just UT Austin,” Murray said.
As the Archers get their feet wet in the pool of D.C. politics, Sarver prepares big plans for her tenure as program director.
“Ultimately, The Archer Center will be the thumbprint of the UT System in Washington, D.C., complete with a bricks and mortar building to house all university activities,” Sarver said. “The legacy of Congressman Bill Archer will be inextricably linked to the future, and The University of Texas will sit solidly in its rightful place among the upper echelon of our nation’s institutions of higher education.”