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MEET THE 2018 LELAND FELLOWS

Thank you to the 2018 Leland Fellows Sponsors.

Front: Santiago Franco, Yusuf Bavi, Ayesha Muzzafar, Sara Alhalabi, Irina Alejandro, Jessica Ruland, Dina Hamadi
Back: Jaeson Freitas, Apolinar Abonza, Troy Allen

 

Apolinar Abonza is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in Mexican American studies.  He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society.

Apolinar gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program.  Through this program, Apolinar interned for Congressman Gene Green, Council Member Dwight Boykins, and State Representative Jessica Farrar.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Apolinar hopes to gain valuable experience to use in his future endeavors.  He plans to be involved with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and to push for passage of the DREAM Act.

Apolinar will graduate in December 2017.  After returning from the Leland Fellows program, he plans to return to Texas to work on education and health care policy.

Apolinar is working in the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar

 

Irina Alejandro is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in women’s studies and international/global studies.  She serves as the Senator for the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences in the Student Government Association.

Irina gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program.  Through this program, Irina interned for Council Member Robert Gallegos and State Senator Sylvia Garcia.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Irina hopes to be involved in immigration and education issues.  She also is looking forward to learning how the legislative process works at the federal level.

Irina will graduate in May 2019.  She plans to obtain a master’s degree in political science and to also attend law school with a focus on civil rights.

Irina is working in the office of Congressman Joaquin Castro

 

Sara Alhalabi is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in Arab studies.

Sara gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program.  Through this program, she interned for Senator Borris Miles and State Representative Carol Alvarado.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Sara aims to gain experience in the legislative process and to learn the relationship between the capitol and district offices of a congressperson.  She is particularly interested in observing any action taken regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Sara will graduate in May 2018.  She plans to attend law school and to specialize in international studies with a focus on humanitarian rights in the Middle East.

Sara is working in the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.  

 

Troy Allen is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in economics.

Troy gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of Council Member Jerry Davis.  He also worked as an intern in State Representative Jim Murphy’s office during the 85th regular legislative session through the Hobby Fellows program.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Troy hopes to expand his knowledge of the legislative process to include the federal level.  He is particularly interested in comparing the legislative process in DC to the legislative process in Austin.

Troy will graduate in December 2017.  He plans to begin law school in fall 2018 and has a strong interest in helping to expose others to career paths and options that are usually not seen in their community.

Troy is working in the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

 

Yusuf Bavi is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science and history with a minor in Arab studies.

Yusuf gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in the Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives.  He also worked as an intern in State Representative Gene Wu’s office.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Yusuf hopes to learn how policy is shaped at the federal level.  Specifically, he would like to be involved in legislation that would improve living conditions for refugees adjusting to life in the United States.

Yusuf will graduate in December 2018.  He plans to attend law school and continue studying public policy to advocate for his community.

Yusuf is working in the office of Congressman Marc Veasey

 

 

Santiago Franco is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a double minor in history and law, values, and policy.  He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society.

Santiago gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program.  Through this program, he interned for Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Santiago hopes to learn how the federal government works.  He would also like to observe how the lobbying industry impacts the legislative process.

Santiago will graduate in December 2017.  He plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Master of Public Administration degree and would like to work for a government agency.

Santiago is working in the office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez

 

Jaeson Freitas is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, value, and policy.  He previously served four years as an active duty soldier in the United States Army.

Jaeson gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in State Representative Garnet Coleman’s office.  He also previously interned with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office through Lone Star College.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Jaeson is hoping to be involved in issues concerning education reform, veterans’ affairs, health care, and net neutrality.  He is excited to take his passion for these policies with him to Washington D.C.

Jaeson will graduate in May 2018.  He plans to attend law school and pursue a career as an attorney with aspirations of becoming a federal judge.

Jaeson is working in the office of Congressman Filemon Vela

 

Dina Hamadi is a junior double majoring in political science and Middle Eastern studies with recognition as a Houston Scholar.  She serves as outreach director for Students for Justice in Palestine and is also involved with United Muslim Relief and the Cougar Voice Coalition.

Dina gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in the Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives.  This opportunity allowed her to work on the Hire Houston Youth campaign that connected Houston’s youth with employers to make summer jobs more accessible.

Through the Leland Fellows program, Dina hopes to be involved in advancing the lives of refugees and marginalized communities.  She also has an interest in any congressional action regarding the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Dina will graduate in December 2018.  She will either pursue a law degree or a PhD program in Middle Eastern studies.

Dina is working in the office of Congressman Al Green

 

Ayesha Muzaffar is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in Phronesis.  She serves as vice-president in the Muslim Student Association.

Ayesha gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in the City of Houston’s Administrative and Regulatory Affairs office.  This opportunity motivated her to continue learning about the intricacies of the political process.

As a Leland Fellow, Ayesha hopes to gain experience in successfully drafting and passing legislation as well as learning how people with different perspectives cooperate for a greater cause.

Ayesha will graduate in December 2018.  She plans to attend law school and aims to pursue work in the fields of civil and human rights.

Ayesha is working in the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

 

Jessica Ruland is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in sociology.  She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society.

Jessica gained experience as an intern through the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of Council Member Michael Kubosh.  This provided her the opportunity to attend council meetings, conducting research on ordinances, and how an at-large council member plays a critical role in municipal government.

As a Leland Fellow, Jessica looks forward to gaining more experience and knowledge about government from the perspective of a congressional office.  She is also interested in observing the legislative process at the federal level.

Jessica will graduate in December 2017.  She plans to attend law school with a focus on criminal, civil rights, and animal welfare law.

Jessica is working in the office of Congressman Gene Green.