College is about the people you meet, the connections you make, and the internships you do as much as it is about the classes you attend. I took last semester away from Waco to intern in the Texas State Capitol. Seeing the legislative process, first hand, would be a learning experience, and it would be nice, I thought, to avoid classes that Spring. What instead resulted was the most tiring, most exciting, most rewarding experience I’ve had at Baylor.
I’ve always been interested in politics, but my interest had only extended to the national level. It seemed that while Congress makes grand decisions about war and trade, the State Legislature squabbles about road signs and city ordinances. So, my decision to go to Austin wasn’t because of a love of Texas politics, but so I could see what the process was like on a smaller scale and maybe develop relationships that would help me in my career.
The Texas legislature is only gaveled in every 2 years, starting in January, for 140 days. So, on January 8th, I joined with the office of Baylor graduate Senator Kirk Watson. While I was incredibly lucky to join that office (which I later learned is the smartest, hardest working office in the building), I was immediately thrown into the fire. Apparently, with only 140 days to pass legislation, there was no time for lollygagging.
Like most internships, a position in the Capitol is what you make of it. Dr. Curry, the sponsor of the program, made sure to tell us that as often as he could. I decided to work as hard as I could, as well as I could, so I could do more than just answer the phones. My hard work paid off, and a month after my arrival there I was given my first piece of legislation. It would become a project that called upon my research, writing, and speaking skills that I learned in BIC to force through and pass.
While the Texas Legislature does squabble about road signs and city ordinances (which I now know they shouldn’t), they also help fund Medicaid, influence the leadership and tuition at State Universities, and control Child Protective Services, each of which is incredibly important for individual Texans. Everyone should learn more about their local government, because it matters.
Clay Parham is a junior international studies major from Buda, Texas.