Advertising (Educational Policy Pre-Grad Intern) Senior
Debbie Velasquez

Debbie VelasquezWith my IE Pre-Grad internship at the Texas Center for Educational Policy (TCEP), I have worked under the supervision of Manny Garcia and Patricia Lopez who work under Dr. Angela Valenzuela. My semester interning at TCEP has provided me with the opportunity to explore educational policy from outside of books and into real-life experience. Overall, my experiences were positive and have assisted me in streamlining my goals and aspiration for my personal graduate career.

When I enrolled at Texas, my first major was public relations. Since then I switched from PR to Advertising and completed the Texas Media program. I always struggled with the dichotomy of my passion for social justice and equality for others and my interest in advertising, one of the most frowned upon professions seen as "brainwashing" society into becoming nothing but consumers and trend followers. In the past four years I have argued with myself that on one side I could be this amazing college administrator and some days I wanted to work at an agency. Working at TCEP helped be bridge my love for advertising and my love for the advancement of education. I was asked to be part of a marketing committee in charge of the Brown Bag Lecture series that Dr. Valenzuela hosts every semester. I worked on creating flyers, sending emails and using other forms of media to get the word out. Currently, Dr. Valenzuela is schedule to hold a lecture series for May 15 where many distinguished policy makers and scholars will discuss English language learners. Finally, I don't feel guilty for knowing how to use media to persuade others. Our marketing team also created a facebook group to gets students involved as well so I look forward to see the turnout for the event. While advertising is my major, I feel that the best place for me is not advertising but education and my major will now contribute greatly to my job because I know understand the importance of getting messages across target markets that are concerned with whatever issue I am working on.

My latest conflict has been between educational policy and higher education administration. Because my internship dealt with policy I had the opportunity to watch what gets done to make bills pass or not. While I was learning this knowledge I was also learning about educational administration. As a McNair scholar I am working with Dr. Victor Saenz analyzing UT- Pan American students versus non-UTPA students and seeing the differences in what they define as college readiness. My experience with decoding provides me with the real world knowledge to help me see the difference between both disciplines. With this knowledge constantly running though my mind, I realized the strong correlation between legislation and education and higher education administration. I realized that while you can have a great idea to do something at the end of the day if there is no funding for your program, it wouldn't happen. This is where researchers and policy makers come together and build coalitions in hopes of having overall success in making a goal a reality. Also, like Dr. Valenzuela, you don't need to be confined to one title. You can be a professor, a policy maker and an administrator all at one time.

This semester has also prepared me emotionally and mentally for graduate school. Even though I am a McNair scholar and expected to enroll in graduate school for August 2010 I felt insecure and scared. Once again, I felt the same stress I did as when I was senior in high school. After meeting so many Latinos with stories and backgrounds similar to my own, I feel like graduate is attainable. Now, I have even chosen my top four schools, which are all over the US. Its exciting to me that one day I will have a doctorate and be able to pass down my legacy to my children and that they too will want to exceed expectations. Manny and Patricia really influenced me positively in this respect. Although they a doctoral students excelling in their fields, both of them are people that could easily be my neighbors. They are welcoming and kind and I feel comfortable asking them questions about anything. As I interviewed them for one of the IE assignments, I felt that their responses to my questions were some of the best advice I could have gotten. For example, I asked them how they decipher between everything they hear? How do they evaluate what is valid and what isn't? What hey told me is that I need to analyze everything and question anyone. Only if I asked questions will I really be prepared to set my stand on an issue. Another question that I asked them was how to choose the right grad school and what Patricia told me was to go to where the professors are that are doing the work that I want to do. Patricia explained to me how she followed Dr.Valenzuela and how that decision has helped her become skilled at educational policy. Overall, I feel more confident about choosing grad school and accepting the things I can't control.

I'm pleased with the IE Pre-Grad Internship experience and hope to use the knowledge that I have gained to influence other undergraduate towards doing this program for whatever discipline they are in. It has opened a window of opportunities that I might not otherwise have had.