IN SESSION: UH GRAD STUDENTS HEAD TO AUSTIN
FOR HANDS-ON LESSON IN POLITICS
Participants Hail from Graduate College of Social Work’s Legislative
HOUSTON, Feb. 15, 2007—The political futures of several
Houston graduate students begin during the current session of the
Texas Legislature. The 11 students were selected from a pool of
nearly four dozen to participate in the 2007 Legislative Internship
Program at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social
“This is a really great opportunity for people who are interested
in policy or concerned about human issues in general,” said
Anne Casimir, a student of the GCSW and a legislative intern in
the Legislative Study Group. “This internship will allow me
to be vocal about certain issues that are dear to my heart and will
guide me to the path I need to be on so that I can one day be an
advocate on human trafficking and immigration issues.”
The Legislative Study Group is chaired by Rep. Garnet Coleman.
The 15-year-old GCSW program matches students with lawmakers for
one semester. This year coincides with the 80th Texas Legislative
Session. The 11 interns in the program are pursuing master’s
degrees in various social work fields.
“The GCSW Legislative Internship Program offers our students
a unique opportunity to work with the state legislature, gain a
more in-depth understanding of the political process and learn the
role social workers have in that process,” said Ira Colby,
dean of the GCSW.
As part of their daily duties, legislative interns research policy
issues, meet with lobbyists and constituents and work closely with
a state senator or representative and his staff. It’s a challenging
routine that regularly goes far beyond the traditional 9-to-5 workday,
but is met with eagerness and determination.
“This experience is helping me become more civic-minded,”
said Benjamin Pratt, a UH legislative intern in
Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr.’s office. “This internship is
making me pay more attention to the channels through which important
decisions are made. It’s an empowering program.”
Pratt has been focusing on researching health and human services
issues with Gallegos. His research efforts may lead to policy language
and, eventually, changes that will have an impact on those in need.
“I thoroughly enjoy working in the senator’s office,”
Pratt said. “It’s better than what I had imagined. This
internship is providing me with important legislative experience
that will prepare me to teach social work policy.”
Only a handful of social work colleges in the country offer legislative
internships. In previous years, UH students have interned in Washington
D.C. congressional offices as well. Students must apply for the
legislative internships and commit to staying in Austin for the
duration of the legislative session on a full-time basis. They attend
classes online and stay in touch with their professors through weekly
webcasts and online discussions. Many students go on to pursue careers
in political social work.
“Following their political internships, the vast majority
of GCSW students are hired into significant state and national legislative
positions,” Colby said. “Alumni of the GCSW Legislative
Internship Program have served as chiefs of staff of state committees,
legislative directors in representatives’ offices, as well
as governmental relations staff for a variety of interest groups
The UH Graduate College of Social Work was founded in 1967 and
is the only college of social work in Houston. Political Social
Work is one of the five Master of Social Work specializations offered.
The others are Children and Families, Gerontological Social Work,
Health Care and Mental Health.
For more information on the UH Graduate College of Social Work,
please visit www.sw.uh.edu.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research
and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers
and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate,
civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university
in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and
service with more than 35,000 students.
About the UH Graduate College of Social Work
The mission of the Graduate College of Social Work is to promote
social, economic and political justice and to advance knowledge
for competent, ethical practice and leadership with diverse populations.
Established by the Texas State Legislature in 1967, the College
includes 24 full-time faculty, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The College offers a Master of Social Work, and Ph.D. with emphasis
on political social work, children and families, gerontological
social work, health care and mental health.
For more information about UH visit the universitys Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.