Thursday, February 4, 2016


By Christina Lanier

This semester, I went to the Rockies. Or, more correctly, I passed over them at 30,000 feet. I was on a flight back from San Francisco and was graced with a clear sky all the way back to Dallas. Even though the flight took off well before my alarm normally goes off, I found myself glued to the window for nearly the entire four hours. I witnessed the beauty of the San Francisco Bay, the foothills to the Rockies, the Rockies themselves, and some very interesting canyon-like formations. All the time, I was in awe.

The world is a big place. I didn’t realize that fully until I went to college. My trip to freshman orientation was the first time I had ever stepped foot on a plane- when we went on family trips, it was in a car with a map and a view of the open interstate. Since that first ascent (a year and a half ago), I have been on more than twenty five flights touching down in more than ten states. Almost all of those flights were on university-sponsored trips.

Travelling that much has instilled in me a sense of wanderlust- every time I go somewhere, I fall more in love with the world. And I want to see more of it. I recently applied for a passport, a document I haven’t ever needed to use. I’m hoping to change that. My goal is to see as much of the world as I can while I still can.

While I still can. Life catches up with you pretty quickly. If it hasn’t already for some of you, it will when you hang your diploma on the wall of your real office (or desk) at your real job. I know that after I graduate from law school, I won’t have but two weeks a year to see the world and that’s only if I have the desire to get out of bed on my ten days of vacation time. I want to travel the world before life catches up- before the job, the house, the kids (not too sure on that last one).

We should all have some sense of wanderlust in college. Whether it’s to just get out of the house and explore the town, or to fly all the way across the world to study. Or maybe you’re like me and you’ll join a competitive team that takes you to the corners of the country all because the university thinks you deserve to learn. Whatever your reason is, take the opportunity to satisfy that wanderlust- go on a long weekend, over a break, with a school trip. Take the time to see the world before life catches up. Maybe you’ll see me staring out the window on the plane ride.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Try It. You Just Might Like It.

By William J. Furney 

Last semester I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Douglas Dow on the free exercise clause of the Constitution. I should rephrase. Last semester - due to a requirement for my EPPS freshman course  - I decided to attend a lecture by Dr. Douglas Dow on the free exercise clause of the Constitution.

I have to admit, at first I considered attending this event more of a chore than an exciting opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Constitution and would be happy to attend a lecture on some of the sexier clauses of the Constitution. I went into the “Constitution Day” presentation prepared to be bored for about an hour so I could take some pictures to “prove” I attended an EPPS event, but hey at least I’d get free pizza.

To my surprise, Dr. Dow’s presentation was incredible. Among Dr. Dow’s topics was not only the free exercise clause but popular culture, televangelists, and the most interesting of all - the constitutionality of Constitution Day.

 If you don’t know, back in 2004 Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill that had a clause mandating all publicly funded educational institutions (pretty much every university in the nation) hold a Constitution Day celebration. So, in other words, every university is required to have an educational event about the Constitution on September 17, the day the document was signed.

Dr. Dow posed a question that intrigued me. Is this type of mandated celebration even constitutional? I started to think about this during the rest of the presentation and am still considering it.

While I enjoyed Dr. Dow’s lecture I came to realize something a little bit later after he was done speaking and I had my free pizza --- something that I hadn’t expected to discover. Preconceived notions about something may be completely off base, we know this to be true intuitively, of course, but I would have never expected to be so wrong.

I had preconceived notions on what to expect from the lecture and I am happy to report that they were false. So next time you attend a university event you think you will hate, keep an open mind, you might be surprised.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An EPPS Freshman Reflects on Adjusting to College Life

By Maddie Keith

Everyone knows that there are two types of college kids. First, there are the long distance runners. These are the ones whose feet cross the threshold of home only when a turkey is roasting in the oven, a lit-up tree can be seen through the window, or the blooming of Texas Bluebonnets indicates to one and all that a week-long spring reprieve is just around the corner. Then there are the Natives. Those whose parents barely register that they’re in college because every weekend is spent at home trying to steal one or two home-made meals before they return to the glories of Ramen Noodle Soup. I, and many others however, do not belong in either of these categories but rather lie somewhere in between.

In many ways, most of us consider ourselves to be natives- no doubt about it. Though we may not be able to name every restaurant, coffee house, and hang-out in Richardson (yet), we’re still Dallas-ites. We can get you around the metroplex with minimal use of Google Maps. We’ve gone on more field trips to the Dallas Museum of Natural History than we’d care to remember. We’ve spent our childhood covered with remnants of fried food from the Texas State Fair. And most of us have a pretty good handle on the new hotspots like The Perot Museum and Klyde Warren Park. But, unlike some of the previously mentioned Dallas Natives, home isn’t quite so accessible. Dallas is a big city and our infamous highways are just crazy enough that, for some of us, going home means an hour drive or longer and seeing our family becomes less of a ‘every weekend’ situation and closer to ‘whenever we’re free enough to make the drive’. This is even harder for people (like yours truly) who lack cars. Now, keep in mind, this dilemma isn’t one of such gravity that it’s necessarily worth complaining about. But I think I speak for many of us when I say it feels a bit unusual to be living in the city that you grew up in, one that seems so familiar, but at the same time be contained in a place with which you have very little experience. In a way, we too our long distance runners who are finding a new home: In Richardson, in our dorms, and at UT Dallas.

In addition to this somewhat unique change, I myself am going through a rather interesting adjustment. I am a triplet and for the first time I’m not attending the same school as my siblings. Heck, I’m not even in the same city as them. My sister, Melody, chose to become a proud attendant of The University of Texas’s main campus in Austin, and (because we always have to have a little competition amongst the three of us) my brother, Matt, is now a student at A&M in College Station. Now, in my life-time, I’ve probably got the “Wow! You’re a Triplet?! What’s that like??” question more times than I’d like to think about. But recently the question that is rapidly shooting up the ranks is “What’s it like to not to be with your siblings?” In truth, I’m still working on an answer. My siblings and I have (obviously) always lived in the same house. We’ve always gone to the same school, shared the same teachers, and even had the sat in the same class together on occasion. But we are not the same people. We’re fraternal, we don’t like the same type of music, we all have different interests academically-speaking, and we all three have different personalities. And it’s not like we spend every waking moment with each other. In short, we are not the kind of triplets who conform to cliché. We aren’t clones who complete each other’s sentences and can’t stand to be apart. But that doesn’t mean that being separated from my brother and sister hasn’t brought changes into my life. In terms of school, I no longer have two people who I can automatically go to if I need help with homework or if I want a study-buddy. We can no longer rant about the more annoying qualities of a teacher we share or catch up on recent gossip. But things have changed on a more personal level as well. Throughout my life I have always been 1 of 3. That there were 2 other people who shared my birthday was common knowledge to everyone who knew us and, because we shared many of the same teachers, my actions, my grades, my personality, everything was almost constantly considered alongside those of my siblings, for better or for worse. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m not 1 of 3. There’s no Maddie, Melody, and Matt. There’s only Maddie. I’m simply me.

There are so many things in college that require adaptation. Whether you’re moving here from another country, another state, a house five minutes down the road, or somewhere in-between, you’re still entering a whole new world. The campus is unfamiliar territory, our teachers haven’t known us since we were obnoxious pre-teens, and our social lives are getting a definite reboot. But college is a place for adventures. Here, you make friends who you’ll have for the rest of your life, take classes that’ll determine your career. College is a clean slate, a new beginning. I think that being separate from my siblings, being my own self without them by my side will provide exactly that. A new home. A fresh start. An adventure.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A College Student's Guide for First-Time Voters

By Christina Lanier

College. For many of us, it’s the first time we’ll get to vote on a national (or even state) level. When you turn 18, you are given the opportunity to vote in all of the elections that apply to you- that means city, county, state, and national candidates want your attention. What does this mean for you?

It means you have a lot of information to process. Voting is easy- you stand in line and cast your ballot; or you fill out the ballot and put it in your mailbox to be sent off for counting. Voting is easy- knowing who to vote for is hard.

The first thing to consider is what is important to you. To start, avoid picking a party. We’re often implicitly told that the best way to go is to pick a side- Democratic, Republican, Independent, Tea Party, etc. Sometimes, though, you may find that what you have heard about a party or their members is not the full picture (it could be worse, or better!). Look at each party’s (and official’s) track record. Taking a deeper look at their ideals, history, donors, and future goals can help you decide which way to lean.

Keep in mind what issues matter most to you. Think about your family and your life and how political dogmas or laws have changed your life- for better or for worse. While you are looking through parties and members, keep an eye out for your big-ticket issues. It is okay if you can’t find anyone whose ideals align perfectly with yours- since we all have different life experiences, we are all going to have different political views.

Have you found a politician or party with whom you align? Look at who they support. Are they up for reelection? Or is there a candidate they endorse?  How do you align with the candidate they endorse?

Once you find sitting politicians whose ideals you support, it is a good idea to begin looking at big races- the national race for the presidency, for instance. In the United States, candidates will spend years on the campaign trail before the ballot box even opens. This long campaign period affords you, the voter, the opportunity to not only think long and hard about which candidate deserves your vote, but also how candidates evolve along their journey. Keep in mind how their rhetoric changes- divisive issues can make or break politician, and so can changing opinions on those issues.

One easy mistake is to let the race slip on by. Don’t let that happen! Stay informed- watch your candidates. Keep up with them on social media, television, newspapers. And keep up with your voting days, too. The last thing you want to happen is to miss the voting day after doing such extensive research! Many cities and states will post the calendar dates for each race on their website. When you find the dates, make calendar reminders.

Voting is easy.  Knowing who to vote for is hard.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Archer Experience

By Blake Eaton

Back in 2012, when I still hadn’t decided which college I would call my own, I visited UT Dallas and learned about something called the Bill Archer Fellowship. When I heard that the UT system sent its best and brightest students all the way to Washington, DC, to learn about our government through first-hand experience, I knew that UT Dallas was the place for me, and I knew I wanted to be an Archer Fellow.

This past spring, I fulfilled that dream. As a Archer Fellow for the Spring 2015 semester, I met amazing students and future leaders from throughout the UT system. I learned from professors and guest speakers like UT Austin’s Dr. John Daly and US Senator John Cornyn. (I also met some amazing people not named John.) Through it all, I worked as an intern in the federal court system. I have enjoyed every minute of my time at UT Dallas, but I think I can say pretty definitively that my semester as an Archer Fellow was the best four months of my college career.

As an aspiring lawyer, the Archer Fellowship naturally appealed to me. Studying and working in DC opens doors that don’t even exist in Texas. Along with 39 other students, I lived just two blocks away from the Capitol Building, right in the center of the US government. In DC, politics was more than just an interest or field of study; it was a way of life. I suddenly found myself immersed in a world where everyone knew who the Speaker of the House was, what cases the Supreme Court was hearing, and more. Needless to say, DC residents take a bit more of an interest in politics than the average Comet.

I did not just spend my days wandering the city, though. The Archer Fellowship is not just a chance to leave Texas for a few months. Every student accepted as an Archer Fellow has to find a full-time internship in the DC area. That’s forty hours per week even ignoring the three classes each week! It might sound like a lot for the average college student—and believe me, it is!—but all that hard work is more than worth it. Interning full-time as an Archer Fellow gave me the chance to experience the working world. I learned new skills, built a professional network that will help me kick start my career, and added a pretty darn impressive new bullet point to my resume.

My Archer experience taught me lessons that will stick with me for a lifetime, but more than the details of judicial confirmation politics or the history of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, I think I will remember the friendships I made in DC. Living with 39 students from across the UT system (including more than a few fellow Comets!) turned us into more than just fellow students. Over just a few short months, we became a family. I’m sure we will all move on to amazing careers, but that common bond of the Archer Fellowship will remain.

If you’re interested in the Archer Fellowship, check out http://www.archercenter.org/ and keep an eye out for the next information session on campus. You don’t even have to be a political science major like me to become an Archer Fellow. We had everything from journalism majors to biology students looking forward to medical school. There’s something for everyone in DC. There’s plenty to love.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Discovering the Value of a Political Science Major

By Najib H. Gazi

Engineering. Computer Science. Pre-Med. Physics. Biochemistry. When coming to UT Dallas, that’s all I thought UT Dallas really had to offer. I may have chosen political science, but I did so with little to no hope that UT Dallas would truly offer me the resources I needed to make a splash big enough to get noticed in a job field filled with sharks. My belief was that only the skills I had could give me an advantage. However, my first couple of months have really shown me how misguided my perceptions were.

Orientation was the first time I had ever been on the UT Dallas campus, despite living in Richardson and Murphy for nearly all my life. I must say, (although I had never set foot on even one college campus to this point), the vast size of the campus, buildings, and classrooms were awe-inspiring. Already, UT Dallas had this aura to it. Yet, I still believed that engineers and techies were the only one who could truly take away the best it had to offer. The buildings associated with the social sciences didn’t have the same allure or grandeur as the other career fields. Even when the groups were split up to proceed to the more specified parts of orientation, EPPS had barely any kids. The more conventional sciences had already snatched the majority, and I already felt a sinking feeling about my choice of political science.

The first time that my perception about UT Dallas and social sciences in particular were challenged occurred as I scheduled my classes for the fall semester. All my friends in the conventional sciences ranted about how their advisors gave them little to no individual time, as they were simply overwhelmed by the vast amount of students they had. They had to put in their schedules on paper. Meanwhile, my scheduling session took place in a computer lab in Green Hall. There were 5 students during my time to schedule classes, and 3 advisors to help us. Rather than having to fend for myself, my advisor guided me through the entire process. She helped me pick the best classes, the best teachers, and the best timings. I easily had a great advantage over students based in other schools. At this point, I started to realize that my greatest asset would lie in the staff and faculty of EPPS.

Through the first couple of weeks of school, I started to learn more about my professors. My first class was with Dr. Euel Elliot, an Associate Dean with a large network of connections. The other professors I really found great value in knowing were Dr. Connell, and Dr. Sabharwal. Dr. Connell has done various studies in high level crime areas and has a wide network with law enforcement officials and criminologists. Dr. Sabharwal is an expert in Management, and has a multitude of connections in both the public and private sectors. Just in 3 classes my first semester in college, I already knew possible connections in so many different fields. From these experiences, I reiterate, the people of EPPS are the true asset that outmatch any other.

To conclude, while it may be that the conventional sciences tend to have the high enrollments, the school of EPPS gives its students an added value that cannot be measured. I would advise any student or potential student to get to know your professors, and be more than just a kid with a good GPA, but a student that builds a network to back that GPA. The faculty, staff, and student organizations have such a vast network that if one tries, there will always be an opportunity to achieve one’s goals.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

EPPS Grads Headed to Yale and Harvard law schools

Each year, EPPS graduates go on to prestigious law schools at universities across the nation. The 2015 graduating class includes two students who are going to Yale University and Harvard University law schools, ranked number one and two respectively by U.S. News and World Report:  We recently sat down with Theo Torres and Kyle Reynolds, both political science majors who graduated in May 2015, to find out the keys to their success. Read more

Theo Torres, UT Dallas Political Science Major
Yale University Law School

Theo Torres
What do you think was the key to your admission to such a prestigious law school?

 Beyond GPA and LSAT score, I think my musical background helped me in law school admissions. Throughout my time at UT Dallas, I've played in the school-affiliated orchestra, jazz band, and the classical guitar ensemble, in addition to a couple of independent groups. I like to think that those kinds of activities did something to convince admissions committees that I'm more than just a study machine. Additionally, I tried to balance this by crafting a compelling and credible narrative about my motivations to become a lawyer.

How did your pre-law experience here at UT Dallas help you?

I took part in lots of law-related extracurricular activities as an undergrad, each of which was helpful in its own right. The Innocence Project of Texas  class exposed me to real-world legal work, Moot Court sharpened my oral argument skills, and being secretary for the John Marshall Pre-Law Society acquainted me with some administrative and organizational know-how. The Pre-Law Advising and Resource Center was instrumental in helping me out with the actual application stage, both in terms of broad strategy and detail-oriented review, like proofreading drafts of my personal statement. I don't think I would have been remotely as successful without the help of Dr. Anthony Champagne and Anne Dutia. And, although he isn't formally part of the pre-law program, Dr. Douglas Dow helped out a ton as well. 

What do you plan to do after you graduate from Yale?

After law school, I would like to end up practicing criminal law in a public defender's office. My time with the Innocence Project of Texas here at UT Dallas really made it clear that it's what I want to do. That being said, I look forward to experimenting with other subfields in the clinical program at Yale.

Kyle Reynolds, UT Dallas Political Science Major
Harvard University Law School 

Kyle Reynolds

What do you think was the key to your admission to such a prestigious law school?

Every law school values different qualities. For Harvard, the most important admissions factors are exactly what you would expect: having a strong GPA and a very high Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. That alone isn't enough, however. Harvard also places a lot of value on work experience - 75% of its entering class last year had been out of college for a year or more before starting law school. I believe it was a combination of these three factors that made me a successful candidate. My numbers were good, and the Archer Fellowship Program provided me with excellent full-time work experience in Washington, D.C.

How did your pre-law experience here at UT Dallas help you?

UT Dallas pre-law helped me in two key ways. The first and most important one was mentorship. Dr. Anthony Champagne and Anne Dutia have both been guides for me since freshman year. I can't overstate the value of their advice, in terms of both law school admissions and being a successful student at UT Dallas. The second way pre-law helped me was by providing opportunities. They host law school visits, sit-downs with successful alumni, and competitive advocacy programs like Mock Trial and Moot Court, all of which give students a picture of what being a law student or a lawyer is like. I recommend students take advantage of these opportunities before making the decision to apply to law school.

And of course, it goes without saying that UT Dallas' challenging coursework will be good preparation for the rigors of a law school class. The skills I learned here will help me hit the ground running at Harvard.

What do you plan to do after you leave Harvard?

For me, it is still a little early to decide on that. I can tell you that I plan to come back and work in the Dallas area if possible - I have come to love the city over the past four years. Right now the two main options I'm exploring are working for a large law firm as a litigator, or working for a U.S. Attorney's office as a federal prosecutor. I hope that my time at Harvard will shed light on which of those choices (if either) is the better fit for me.