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State Dept. internship puts political science grad on track to law school

Tiffany Cebrun enrolls this fall at Howard University Law School with full-tuition scholarship

Ms. Cebrun

Tiffany Cebrun is in love with Washington, D.C. After spending a summer in the nation’s capital as a U.S. State Department intern, Cebrun decided she had to move to the District of Columbia for a much longer stay.

Back on the UH campus for her senior year, she applied to several law schools in the D.C. area and other parts of the country and stayed on track to complete her political science degree in four and a half years.

Her hard work and determination paid off – she was admitted to the law schools at the University of California-Los Angeles, Ohio State, George Washington and Howard universities.

The admission letter from Howard Law School, which has its campus in Washington’s northwest quadrant, came with a full-tuition scholarship award.

The offer to attend a top law school with hefty financial support from the institution and live in the city she loves was too enticing to pass up for other academic opportunities.

“Once I complete law school, I plan to practice law for a few years and then go back to school to earn my PhD,” she said.

“Tiffany is one of the best students I have had,” said Dr. Tanya Bagashka, assistant professor of political science. “She has demonstrated genuine substantive interest in important political issues, and at the same time, the ability to apply scientific methods to the study of politics.

“I am confident she will be very successful in law school, given her great time management skills and keen attention to detail.”

Cebrun’s summer at the State Department convinced her legal training was the next step in her educational journey rather than enrolling in a doctoral program.

She interned in the Race, Ethnicity and Social Inclusion Unit, which was established in 2010 to support the United States’ policy goal of promoting basic rights for all humans living throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“One of my main responsibilities was working on a student exchange program they were developing,” Cebrun said. “I had to make sure the program would be compliant with affirmative action laws, so I researched what laws were in existence that would pertain to the program.”

That work allowed Cebrun to see how her future law school plans meshed with her undergraduate studies in political science with a minor in African American Studies.

“I decided to attend law school because I am very interested in international law and trade law, especially since legal decisions can have huge political impacts on a country,” she said.

Cebrun’s federal internship resulted from her working with John C. Roberts, the State Department’s Diplomat in Residence on the UH campus and who is affiliated with the Department of Political Science.

Diplomats in Residence are Foreign Service Officers responsible for providing guidance and advice to students, professionals, and the community about careers and internships within the State department.

“Department of State student internships are life changing opportunities for students to live and work in Washington, DC or at a U.S. embassy abroad where they experience first-hand the challenges of contributing to key foreign policy issues,” Roberts said. “We hope students selected for this exciting program will choose to pursue a career in foreign affairs with the U.S. Department of State. This is a spectacular opportunity not only to serve our nation but to make a difference in the world.”

Since Spring 2010, 11 UH students have completed U.S. State Department internships.

This summer, Cebrun will spend time with her family in her hometown of Houston before heading to Washington D.C. She hopes to land an internship with the City of Sugar Land’s legal division.

“Attending UH is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Cebrun. “It was close to my family and affordable. Plus, I’ve enjoyed the faculty and the atmosphere.”

- By Monica Byars