I really enjoyed participating in the Lone Star Leadership Academy back in 2005, and I'm sure that visiting the Capitol fueled my interest in politics/government.
What I most remember about my participation in the camp was my visit to the Capitol, where I had the opportunity to visit with the staff of my state representative and state senator. Then, that would have been Representative Rob Orr and Senator Kip Averitt. Visiting the Capitol and taking the public tour was interesting, but the chance to talk with legislative staff certainly added a more academic and professional dimension to my experience. I was very nervous about visiting the offices, but everybody I met was so friendly and willing to answer questions. I do remember one staffer discussing how they had to work very long hours whenever the Legislature was in session, which I found out first hand several years later. But meeting with legislative staff in the offices was probably the highlight of my trip - as a young kid who even at age 12/13 was interested in government and history, that was the agenda item I most looked forward to. It made me feel less like a tourist in the building and more like I was actually beginning to grow into an engaged citizen. The Texas State Cemetery tour was also a memorable experience, as it would be for any student with an interest in Texas history.
I graduated from Joshua High School in 2011, and from Texas A&M in 2015. I interned in the office of Sen. Don Huffines during the 84th Legislative Session, where I had the opportunity analyze bills and meet with constituent/stakeholder groups. I learned so much about state government and legislation, and really enjoyed working on Texas public policy issues.
In July 2016 I joined Representative Matt Rinaldi's staff as a policy analyst. As part of my job, I get to research legislation and keep track of what policies the state is implementing. Sometimes, I am also able to help people from Representative Rinaldi's district when they interact with state agencies. I'm planning to work in the Capitol for at least one or two more sessions before attending graduate school. I really enjoyed attending the Lone Star Leadership Academy and would definitely recommend it to any student who has an interest in history or government. It's a fun and really informative introduction to Texas citizenship.