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Texas Border Business

By Victoria Brito Morales 

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Two UTRGV students spent the summer away from the Lone Star State, soaking up Beltway politics and culture as part of the Graduate Archer Fellowship Program.  

The Archer Center, located in Washington, D.C., provides students in the UT System the opportunity to develop their skills within local, state, federal and international public service, through internships and experiential learning in the nation’s capital.  

Dr. Mark Andersen, dean of the UTRGV Honors College and the university’s Archer program liaison, said the Archer Center provides an important range of possibilities for both graduate and undergraduate students.  

“They have the opportunity to live and work in a very exciting and interesting city, and to take courses from world-class faculty,” he said. “Most importantly, though, they have the opportunity to begin building a network of professional contacts, not just with the rest of their own Archer cohort, but also with Archer alumni and influential individuals in various positions in our nation’s capital.” 

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Alessandra Jimenez, a UTRGV School of Medicine student from Brownsville, interned at the American Medical Association as part of the Graduate Archer Fellowship Program. (Courtesy Photo)

ALESSANDRA JIMENEZ, from Brownsville, a third-year student in the UTRGV School of Medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in genetics from UT Dallas and a master’s degree in public health from UT Health Science Center in Houston. 

She is the first UTRGV SOM student to participate in the Archer Program, and interned at the American Medical Association, where she worked in the medical education department, helping with the development of a strategic plan to address racial injustices and advance health equity in the United States. She also helped create education credit activities to help people understand those concepts. 

“I want everybody to have access to medicine to be able to live their best and healthiest lives,” Jimenez said.  

Learning about health inequity and seeing its prevalence in the Rio Grande Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic stoked her interest in the intersection of public policy and medicine. 

The Archer Program nourished that interest, she said, and provided the tools to help her enact change locally and at the federal level. “This has been a life-changing experience,” she said.

“This fellowship offered the opportunity to learn different perspectives and opportunities to learn about the inner workings of government. We saw how to make changes that can have an impact on our communities.  

“For me, the goal is to have our different and diverse populations be seen,” she said.

Cassidy Hosein, a UTRGV graduate student from The Bronx, New York, interned at the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association as part of the Graduate Archer Fellowship Program. (Courtesy Photo)

CASSIDY HOSEIN, a UTRGV graduate student from The Bronx, New York, is pursuing a Master of Public Affairs in the UTRGV College of Liberal Arts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hunter College in Manhattan and aspires to empower those in marginalized communities by encouraging them to pursue leadership roles. Part of the plan is also to help improve economic and education opportunities globally. 

She interned at the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, doing research on policies that would provide legal protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community, like working to introduce a federal ban on the LGBTQ+ “Panic” Defense strategy to Congress. 

Only 15 states and Washington D.C., have a ban on this policy. Texas is not one of those states.  

“It just takes one representative to pick it up and introduce it to the House,” Hosein said.  

This work is important to consider locally for the LGBTQ+ population living in the Valley, she said.  

“There is a large LGBTQ+ population in the Valley and they deserve the same rights as everyone else,” she said. “They deserve quality of life, to go out feeling safe and like the law is on their side. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”

Hosein said helping to empower communities in meaningful ways keeps her returning to public service because it is fulfilling work.  

“Learning and living in Washington, D.C., among other ambitious individuals, fueled my determination to ensure fair and equal treatment for all,” she said. “The Archer Fellowship is helping me to help others, thus creating systematic, long-lasting change.” 


In 2018, Luis Leal was part of the Archer program, as an intern with the development team of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, “an award-winning nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities,” according to the organization’s website.  His experience that summer translated into long-term career experience for Leal, and today, he currently serves as senior director of development at UTRGV. 

His Archer Center internship opened his eyes to the endless opportunities available in the field of development, he said.

“The Archer Center built up my confidence, my eagerness to continue learning, and ultimately allowed me to continue growing my career in higher education fundraising,” he said. “In my free time, I volunteer at UTRGV as an Archer Alumni Ambassador, helping Archer Center staff with recruitment initiatives, meeting with prospective Fellows and speaking during information sessions.  

“The Archer Center positively changed my life,” Leal said, “and I want to invite others to prepare a strong application and join the Archer Family.”

To apply or to learn more about The Archer Fellowship Program at UTRGV, visit www.utrgv.edu/archer/.

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