University of St. Thomas senior Victoria Haddad put her education into action this summer after being selected for the Texas Governor’s Internship Program. Haddad—a pre-law student and double major in political science, as well as criminology, law & society—interned for the Policy and Budget Division in the Office of the Governor, where she saw firsthand how policy is created and implemented.
“We learn about it in class, but having the real-world experience, getting to meet lawmakers, getting to meet people who have stepped into these leadership roles that are so important and affect so much of what we do and experience, that was pretty incredible,” Haddad said.
A Focus on Education
Haddad’s work for the internship largely focused on researching areas pertaining to education. She studied teacher quality gaps and student performance outcomes with the goal of solving how to balance these factors better. She also studied information on charter and public schools, all of this research done with the desire, she said, to maximize the education each student receives in Texas.
“We see the benefits of this when students are properly educated and have the opportunities available to them,” Haddad said. “We know this, and that’s why we encourage scholarships around Texas for private education, but for public education we need to be funding these programs. The amount of potential in our students is incredible.”
Haddad herself received a scholarship to attend the University of St. Thomas. Because of this, she said her experience with the internship held a particular meaning for her.
“Advocacy and policy for education have become very important to me, because here at St. Thomas, with the scholarship that I’ve been given, I have experienced what that can do,” Haddad said. “Somebody’s belief in you can be a catalyst for so much growth…their belief in you can be enough to make things happen that will create a better and more secure environment for you to go places in your future—that’s invaluable.”
Discussing to Reach a Solution
Due to the increased awareness of school shootings, students’ mental health was another area of Haddad’s research. In addition to reviewing the Governor’s School and Firearm Safety Action Plan, she attended round table discussions to review policy regarding the issue. She heard from numerous members of the community—such as doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, educators and survivors of school shootings—who shared their research and experiences.
“People proposed solutions to these issues based on their experiences and their study, and it was just inspiring to see how people really pull together to find solutions to these problems that are so important right now,” she said.
Although she plans to attend law school next year, Haddad said she is considering eventually moving into public policy. The internship experience confirmed for her that her heart lies in public service.