Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Archer Fellow Gets Supreme Opportunity

The Archer Center was established by the UT System in conjunction with former U.S. Rep. Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington D.C. to participate in varied internships and take part in classes focusing on policy, economics and politics. Our EPPS blogger, Alexandra Noll, recently interviewed Hannah Chapman who participated in the Archer Fellowship Program during the fall of 2011, and interned with the Supreme Court Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice.

Alexandra Noll
ALEX: Why were you interested in this opportunity?

HANNAH: I was encouraged by Dr. Harpham and Dr. Champagne since my freshman year that I should apply for this opportunity. Several UTD alums that I looked up to as an underclassman had completed the Archer Fellowship and shared their inspiring stories with me. I liked the idea of living in D.C. for a semester, as I grew up close to UTD and felt I would benefit from the experience of really living away from home. Lastly, I know that these days, internship and work experience is becoming more and more important for prospective employers and graduate schools, so I wanted to expand my work experience.

Hannah Chapman
ALEX: Could you describe the application and selection process?

HANNAH: The application was fairly intensive. It required a well-tailored resume, a transcript, a writing sample, a short essay on a specific and challenging topic, a well-researched list of potential internship sites, and several letters of recommendation. Putting all of this together took several months. I had my written materials reviewed by several CV professors, and I had my resume reviewed by the Career Center. After submitting the application, I was selected for the second round, the interviews. I prepared for the interview by reviewing my application materials and practicing potential interview questions and responses. The interview was very intimidating, but I felt prepared because of my preparation. I also got tips from friends who had already completed the fellowship.

ALEX: How did you find your internship in D.C?

HANNAH: I knew two UT Dallas students who had worked at the office in the Supreme Court, and that was my number one internship choice. I prepared and turned in my application far before the application deadline. I had professors and friends review my cover letter and written application sections. I made sure to keep informed of current events relating to the Court for the few months before the application and interview process. This helped me in my phone interview. The interview was incredibly intimidating, and I thought I had done a terrible job. The day of the interview, I wrote a very sincere, handwritten thank you note and mailed it to my interviewer. I know that made a difference because when I got to the Court, I found that thank you note included as the first page of my application file.

ALEX: What was it like working there?

HANNAH: The internship at the Supreme Court Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice was an amazing experience. We were always very busy in the office, and the work led me to pursue research in fields that I had never thought about. It was so inspiring to be working in this amazing, beautiful building, walls lined with portraits of great Supreme Court Justices. The office in which I was placed always hires two interns, so it was nice to have a colleague to share responsibilities with. We became very close, and still keep in touch from time to time. My most amazing memory at the Supreme Court was that one evening, we were invited to stay and help out at a function for the Supreme Court Historical Society. We watched a reenactment of a famous Reconstruction case where Associate Justice Antonin Scalia presided. During the
reception after the event, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice. We spoke briefly about her work and my experience. She was the most wonderful, strong woman. It was a memory that I will never forget.

ALEX: What did you do besides study and work?

HANNAH: All the Archer Fellows had very intense schedules. We were working full-time, five days per week. On several weekday evenings, we had classes at the Archer Center. For one of our classes, we would meet at a different monument or museum each week for class. There is so much to do in D.C., so on the weekends we committed to try to experience as much of the city as possible. We would spend time at the Smithsonian Museums (all of them, and there are many!!). We would explore that different neighborhoods of the city, and we always managed to find great places to eat and go out in the evenings. It was so great to have a group of 30 other people to make plans with. You never had to go anywhere alone if you didn't want to -you just had to let the house know where you were planning to go, and at least a small group of people would want to come along. The whole Archer class gets so close. The Fellowship is basically living in an amazing city with a huge group of your closest friends. Every Sunday, a group of us would walk down to the outdoor market, and select fresh, local foods to make dinner that night. We would all help cook, and we would gather in one kitchen in the evening for a big Sunday "Archer family" dinner. We would eat and catch up on what was going on at work with everyone

ALEX: How has the experience changed you?

HANNAH: First, the experience confirmed my belief that I definitely want to go to law school. It made me more confident in the academic and career choices I am making. It also convinced me that I should take some time off between my undergraduate and law school experiences. I had several mentors and professionals speak with me about how this was helpful to their eventual performance in law school and hiring prospects upon graduation. I have a whole new amazing network of friends that know me well and will be seriously be going places. The Archer Fellowship alumni network is ever expanding and provides great connections based on a common experience. Finally, I know that I grew as a person by leaving Texas and living and working in a new city, living with lots of new people. and experiencing a whole new type of life that was foreign to me before. I feel more confident in formal and work surroundings now that I have had these experiences and learned so much from the professors, mentors, and other Fellows during my time as an Archer. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

My First Meeting of the John Marshall Pre-Law Society

By Jordan Schwartz, Guest Blogger

Upon entering the small crowded meeting room, I was immediately drawn to the projector labeled “John Marshall Pre-Law Society Meeting.” The meeting itself was extremely important especially for someone like me in the pre-law program. It was just the second annual meeting, and in it, Ms. Anne Dutia (administrator of the Pre-Law Society) discussed many of the upcoming events. They included workshops for preparing for the LSAT, a Law School Admissions Dean Panel, JMPLS T-Shirt Day, as well as upcoming LSAT test days.

Dr. Anthony Champagne, director of the pre-law program, informed us about the importance of participating in these events. He stressed that it would only help our prospects of knowing which schools were good fits. He said that for students who become lawyers or enjoy law school, participation in these events was a mandatory process. He also urged students to start early when getting a teacher recommendation.

Dr. Champagne also addressed the typical law school application process and offered information about law schools participating in the Dean Panel Event. He also described JMPLS T-Shirt Day, where students wear their t-shirt to spread awareness about the organization on campus. He also discussed LSAT test dates. Dr. Champagne was adamant in saying that taking the test as many times as possible was an absolute necessity, the reason being that the more times you take it, the better chance you have of reaching a new maximum. The LSAT score is very important for admittance into law school.

I found the meeting to be extremely informative, and it was an absolutely vital part of my new knowledge regarding law school. I would recommend membership to anyone who is interested in going to law school as it looks especially good on your applications.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The IPE Meet & Greet (And Why You Should Have Gone)

By Gavin Roy

A pre-conceived notion among some UT Dallas students is that all faculty and staff members are incredibly stern, seeing students as bothersome. As such, talking with professors, advisors, and other faculty and staff members can be intimidating for some.

While I do appreciate the formal events on campus that enable students to interact with the faculty and staff, informal meetings help establish a more comfortable relationship that's endearing for students.

For example, I attended a meet and greet for IPE students (and by extension, EPPS students in general) at the end of the spring semester. The event was hosted by Masters Advisor Nora Hernandez and Dr. Jennifer Holmes, Head of the Public Policy program. It was a very simple affair, taking place in a conference room at Green Hall, with simple refreshments provided for attendees. Doesn't seem like much, does it? However, for me, that simplicity was the appeal.

As I spoke with Ms. Hernandez, Dr. Holmes, and the few other students present, there was a sense of ease that I found encouraging. I was free to casually converse with esteemed individuals, whether the topic was academics, the challenges of learning a new language, or our experiences in foreign countries. From our conversations, I received tips on how to plan courses and I got to know Ms. Hernandez and Dr. Holmes as individuals. At the same time, they got know me as an individual. I even met a couple of other IPE students in the process.

It's important for students to be able to forge relationships with faculty and staff. It's also just as important for faculty and staff to get to know their students. Events such as the IPE Meet & Greet are great for fostering those relationships and connections. They help students realize that most members of their university's faculty and staff are much nicer than they realize. Events such as the IPE Meet & Greet can also help faculty and staff understand how their students react to certain things, making it easier to give advice when students need it. So whether you're a student, professor, advisor, or dean, try not to miss an opportunity like this. It's more significant than you might realize.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

EPPS Freshman Discovers GIS

By Nathan Yee, EPPS Guest Blogger

When I stepped into my EPPS 1110 course last fall, I was confused about the group work we were assigned to do. Each group had to give a presentation on one of the majors within EPPS. The reason my confusion was the fact that instead of my enrolled major, economics, I was assigned to the mysterious GIS major. GIS? I haven't even heard of such a major before! I had to investigate GIS pretty quickly and understand why it is connected to the rest of EPPS. Here are my findings.

What is GIS?

GIS stands for geographic (or sometimes geospatial) information systems. Basically all those words mean it involves maps, but GIS is far from a major just about topology or cartography. GIS is a relatively new major that combines the use of map systems with technology to gather and analyze information.

Thanks to massive improvements in communications and data gathering from both technology and techniques (especially from satellites), creating maps of the world has evolved beyond showing what is where on the globe. Now we can utilize information data gathered from a variety of sources by a plethora of methods to chart, graph, label, and sort all types of maps by numerous different categories. These maps can be used to examine the interactions of people, communities, metropolises, or even nations. There are a whole lot of reasons why GIS is part of EPPS, a school dedicated to the social sciences.


With GIS, economists can map out areas of resources much more effectively. The main role of an economist is to properly manage the resources that a business or corporation takes in order to make a profit. GIS in conjunction with economics can map out areas where raw materials are and their concentrations. Going beyond just raw materials, the most favorable or efficient routes to get to and transport the raw goods can also be charted by GIS. Then areas of processing those goods and distribution of goods to warehouses, retailers, or even direct consumers are also materials that GIS can use to improve economics. Even if a business does not physically produce products, it can utilize GIS to find where their range of services can reach. For example, utility companies need to know where their power lines, pipes, cables, and fire optics are going and in what patterns to avoid unnecessary wastes and sufficient levels of supply.

Consumers themselves are affected by GIS when they get their tracking number from shipping companies when they buy online or on the phone. When consumers buy maps, GPS, or browse a map software (something Apple needs to work on...), GIS has had its hand somewhere in those matters.

Political Science and other political majors

There’s an obvious reason why politics and GIS are interrelated: borders. Before the age of accurate map creating, often there would be many disputes on where the border of a country is (and sadly some parts of the world still dispute that). Now days, simple programs can easily split up countries in a variety of ways, even down to the city limits or road systems. Political scientists are quite interested in GIS as a nation sorter to see which areas of a country have certain political views and their voting patterns. This is how voting districts are drawn in the United States, and how some political parties might use this to their advantage or their battlegrounds to win borderline districts. On a larger scale, GIS can help politicians see areas that require their attention, especially in times of crisis such as natural disasters.


Sociologists can work with GIS to chart out numerous types of sociological factors. For example if a sociologist is focusing on the homeless populations of an area, they can find where homeless people are concentrated, their travel areas, any places that support the homeless, areas that produce homeless people, and so on. More general usage of GIS could be for racial and ethnicity makeup of places, family and marriage patterns between cities, educational and employment levels, consumption levels, and many more. These can all help sociologists predict what areas could develop problems in the future.

These are but a small description on how GIS interacts and relates to the EPPS majors. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how important GIS is as a major and might even consider taking some part in it.