Hobby Fellows 2023
Andrea Cubillos, Political Science, Post-baccalaureate
Office of State Representative Christina Morales
Andrea Cubillos is a first-generation post-baccalaureate student who graduated in December 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a double minor in U.S. ethnic studies and law, value and policy.
Cubillos first gained public service experience through the Hobby School Civic Houston Internship Program in the Mayor’s Office of Education working on the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative Action Plan. She was later selected as a Leland Fellow, serving full-time at the U.S. Capitol in the office of Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. In 2022, Cubillos was named a Hobby School Elizabeth D. Rockwell scholar for her concentration on public interest law and passion for social justice. Additionally, Cubillos was one of five students in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences selected for an internship with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in the summer of 2022.
“My favorite aspect of the internship was meeting with people of all backgrounds and discussing policies they were passionate about. The opportunity to hear people's stories and learn about how the policies impact them motivates me to work harder. Hobby School’s internship programs are unique because, in addition to work experience, they challenge you to reflect on delving deep into civic education.”
Office of State Representative Mary Ann Perez
Andrea Ellis is a first-generation post-baccalaureate student who graduated in December 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science.
Her experience as a first-generation American inspired her to advocate for human rights and seek a career in public service. Ellis gained hands-on experience as a Civic Houston Intern working in the City of Houston Office of Resilience and Sustainability and with nonprofit organizations, including Birthday Bash Box and Young Invincibles. Ellis is motivated to make the world a better place for future generations and influence the policies that positively affect people’s lives.
“Working in the Texas Legislature has provided me with a valuable perspective on the depth of our divisions. It is crucial to remember our shared Texan identity. We should prioritize enacting legislation that benefits all Texans and recognize the humanity in those with differing political affiliations. There is still much to learn, and I am enthusiastic about continuing my work in this field.”
Adrian Hernandez, Political Science, Junior
Office of State Representative Gene Wu
Adrian Hernandez is pursuing his bachelor's degree in political science with a double minor in Spanish and law, values and policy.
Since immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 10, Hernandez has observed first-hand the impact of public policies on issues such as access to healthcare, policing practices and the right to vote. He developed early leadership skills working with Mi Familia Vota, a voting education and civic engagement organization. Hernandez was selected as a fellow in the Take Action for Power program under the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing. He founded Houstonians Enacting Liberation to promote policies protecting vulnerable communities from harmful urban expansion. Most recently, he served as an engagement and advocacy intern with Every Texan in the fall of 2022.
“My daily duties varied significantly throughout the session. Initially, I worked closely with constituents to develop legislation. Later, I focused on requesting hearings, strategizing with other offices on bills, and pushing for bills to pass through the legislative process. Toward the end, the bulk of my time was focused on vote recommendations.”
Cyrus Hosseini, Economics, Post-baccalaureate
Office of State Representative Ann Johnson
Cyrus Hosseini is a post-baccalaureate student who graduated in December 2022 with a degree in economics and a minor in computer science.
Beginning in high school as an intern with OCA-Greater Houston, Hosseini helped improve access to immigration and civic engagement resources for Houston's AAPI and Middle Eastern communities. It started him on a journey of legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing, bringing him into contact with state legislators and decisionmakers. His personal experience during Houston’s natural disasters catalyzed his support for responsible infrastructure policy at the state and local levels. Today, Hosseini serves as the president of the UH College Democrats and Third Ward region leader for Harris County Young Democrats, while continuing to volunteer on local political and civic engagement campaigns.
"The Hobby Fellows program has been a life-changing experience—from developing strong professional skills to building a wealth of knowledge about policy issues and the legislative process. Beyond this, the frequent opportunities to meet with and assist constituents and interest groups have been extremely fulfilling. I am grateful to the Hobby School for making my time in Austin possible and setting me up for a successful post-graduation career."
Esme Ledezma, Sociology, Senior
Office of State Representative Armando Walle
Esme Ledezma is a senior pursuing a degree in sociology with a minor in Mexican American studies.
Ledezma started her journey in public policy in 2018, watching her mother and sister help unionize their workplace and joining multiple local advocacy groups like March For Our Lives shortly after. In 2021, at the height of the pandemic, Ledezma worked as an intern with Young Invincibles, a national policy research and advocacy nonprofit organization, advocating for multiple bills during the 87th Texas Legislative Session. Since then, she has worked with different organizations, including Mi Familia Vota and NextGen America. On campus, Ledezma is a student government senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and vice president of NextGenUH.
"Not a day passed when I didn’t learn new things about our state, HD-140 or Texas politics. I am incredibly thankful to Rep. Armando Walle and the staff in my office for taking me under their wing and teaching me what they know. And I am grateful for a job where I can listen to the concerns of my community and help find solutions."
Marie McGrew, Political Science, Senior
Office of State Representative Jolanda Jones
Marie McGrew is a senior pursuing a political science degree with a minor in marketing.
As a first-generation student, she wants to pay-in-kind for the mentoring and guidance that has helped her become a young leader. In the community, she works with voter registration and food insecurity initiatives. McGrew’s campus activity as a senator on the UH Student Government Association and involvement with the UH NAACP chapter, Black student union and UH College Democrats is preparing her to become a public service leader. During the 87th Texas Legislative Session, McGrew served as the social media and outreach coordinator for the district office of Texas State Representative Carl O. Sherman. She has represented the Hobby School as a Harris Fellow and the Civic Houston intern.
"My experience in the Hobby Fellows program helped me learn so much about my capabilities and the ins and outs of the legislative process. I learned how to manage a team, prioritize tasks and work closely with the representative. It gave me a unique perspective on how policy decisions are made. I am excited to see where my career in public service will take me next."
Reynaldo Perez, Political Science, Post-baccalaureate
Office of State Senator Borris Miles
Reynaldo Perez is a post-baccalaureate student who graduated in December 2022 with a degree in political science and a minor in national security studies.
He gained professional experience in bilingual communication and negotiation working as a legal interpreter. On campus, he is a member of the UH College Democrats. He expanded his passion for political activism as a volunteer for statewide candidate campaigns, where he developed skills in outreach strategies and voter education and registration. Growing up in South Texas where communities encounter daily border security, immigration and healthcare issues, he directed his focus to policies surrounding immigration reform, women’s access to healthcare and gun safety. Perez’s recent internship on a Harris County Commissioner’s race gave him additional experience in canvassing and organizing at a grassroots level.
“One of my favorite aspects of the legislative internship was being a voice for my people back home in the Rio Grande Valley. I also loved meeting with constituents from the Houston area or individuals who did not speak English and could get what they wanted to say translated by myself, which would bring a smile across their faces. I am thankful to UH and the Hobby Fellows program for giving me this opportunity.”
Mariela Rea, Political Science, Senior
Office of Governmental Relations, University of Houston System
Mariela Rea is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in law, values, and policy.
Her past internship experience working with BakerRipley in the spring of 2021 through the Civic Houston Internship Program exposed her to special events management, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. Rea was among the inaugural cohort of the Harris Fellows program in the summer of 2021, where she worked full-time for Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia's office. In this role, she worked under government affairs and community relations, drafting letters, developing talking points and assisting at community events. As a 2022 Leland Fellow, Rea interned at the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C.
“With the UH System’s Office of Governmental Relations, I’ve seen first-hand how bills are molded and moved throughout the legislature. I’ve tracked bills in previous roles, but being in the midst of the action is an entirely different experience. My duties vary from tracking committee hearings and bills to talking to legislative offices about the bills we monitor.”
Aaron Rollins, Political Science, Senior
Office of State Senator John Whitmire
Aaron Rollins is a senior pursuing a degree in political science with a minor in German.
Growing up in rural east Texas in a family of educators taught Rollins the value of education but also the influence of government policy on the people who make the system function. His early experiences nurtured his goal to better understand the complexities of government policies and how to influence it for good. Rollins’ experience as a Hobby School’s Civic Houston intern at the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement sharpened his focus on education, housing, and healthcare policies. His second internship in the office of State Rep. Ann Johnson provided experience addressing the needs of a state district. He is active in UH College Democrats and has volunteered for statewide and national political campaigns.
“For years, I’ve observed the legislature only through the lens of the media organizations that cover it. However, seeing the various technicalities and behind-the-scenes dealings that go into crafting and passing legislation and interacting with constituents has helped me understand my state on a whole new level. My favorite aspect of this internship is meeting people from both my community and across the state and listening to what's important to them.”
Kryss Schofield, Political Science, Senior
Office of State Representative Ana Hernandez
Kryss Schofield is a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in political science.
In 2019, Schofield interned on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s re-election campaign, where she engaged in constituent relations canvassing targeted voters in person and on the phone. Schofield recruited campaign workers and assisted with training and managing volunteers. She has volunteered with the Metropolitan Volunteer Program for civic engagement projects on campus and in the community. Schofield is also active with the UH Pre-Law Society on campus. Her experience in local government in the office of Council Member Carolynn Evan-Shabazz and the Harris County Attorney’s Office through the Civic Houston Internship Program introduced her to the inner workings of city and county government. She has received both the Elizabeth D. Rockwell and Richard Murray Endowed Scholarships.
“My favorite aspect of my legislative internship is being knowledgeable of the potential legislation in our state. I had no idea how many bills were filed every biennial session and how some of these bills could potentially have grave impacts on Texans. The Hobby Fellows program has taught me so much about the legislative process.”
Rohit Shajan, Sociology, Junior
Office of State Senator Carol Alvarado
Rohit Shajan is a junior at the Honors College pursuing a degree in sociology and a minor in energy and sustainability.
He gained experience in public service and administration in the summer of 2022 as a Harris Fellow at the Harris County Treasurer's office, where he worked on predatory payday lending and criminal justice reform. He served as an intern in the district office of State Senator Carol Alvarado through the Civic Houston Internship Program in the fall of 2022. On campus, Shajan is a team mentor in UH's Mock Trial Association. He was elected as an undergraduate at-large senator in the UH Student Government Association and later as a speaker of the senate. In the community, Shajan is the vice president of the Brazoria County Young Democrats, serves as the director of programs for the Texas College Democrats and is vice president of the Asian American Democrats of Texas's Houston caucus.
“Unlike other internships, the Hobby Fellows program provided an up close and hands-on experience with public policy. We were interns in name only. Hobby Fellows fulfilled the roles of policy staffers and were responsible for certain legislative priorities. I am the senior transportation and criminal justice policy staffer responsible for Sen. Alvarado's legislation in these policy areas.”