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Texas Civic Ambassadors Program 2019-2020

A year of service, education, and leadership supporting civic life in Texas.
Alberto

Alberto Jimenez is a senior currently attending the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in pursuit of a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Alberto has served as President of the UTEP Men's Soccer Club where he opened the club up for all genders, as well as, people with disabilities. He is a member of the Chicano Pre-Law Association and the chair for Liberal Arts for Vision Mexico. Alberto was also chair for an immigration non profit, Mano Amigo. Most recently, he has been accepted into the Texas Civic Ambassadors Program at the Moody College of Communication - UT Austin. Alberto wishes to peruse a JD in the University of Texas at Austin Law School and serve the community he loves through politics.

Alexandra

Alexandra Smith-Macias is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico but now she calls the Valley her home. She is a junior attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley pursuing a degree in Political Science. Besides her academics she is really involved in her university, she currently serve as the student body Vice-President, she works on campus in the office of Student Activities, and she is the president of the newly formed It Takes One Civic Engagement Alliance. She strives to help her university create the best college experience for her fellow vaqueros.

Alexis

Alexis Tatum is a senior studying Journalism and Plan II Honors at the University of Texas at Austin. As a first generation college student from northeast Texas, she understands the importance of local media and community relationships to civic engagement and understanding. In the future, Alexis hopes to continue working in media and eventually obtain a legal degree. Alexis is excited to be a Texas Civic Ambassador because she believes the program is an enriching opportunity to take a deeper dive into what it means to represent and be engaged with one’s community.

Alexzandra

Alexzandra Roman is a Sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin studying Government with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. On campus, She is a Terry Foundation Scholar, a Student Ambassador for the university, she advocates and provides resources for women/self-identifying women as a Women’s Resource Agency co-director, and she mentors students as a camp counselor. Originally from San Antonio, she first witnessed what civic engagement was my freshman year of high school. She has explored her interest for civic involvement by volunteering, interning and working on various local and statewide campaigns. She is deeply passionate about providing resources to marginalized and underserved communities while helping to propel all individuals to have the tools they need to engage in their communities and within themselves.

anahi

Anahi Ponce is an El Paso native. She is a current senior at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) majoring in English and American Literature with a minor in Public Administration. After working as a congressional intern for Texas’ 16th Congressional District, she gained an interest in politics and government, as well as how the two coincide with civic engagement and activism within communities. Since then, Anahi has been involved in efforts to mobilize El Paso voters and has consequently been featured in online articles by both Remezcla and NPR’s Latino USA. Along with mobilizing voters, Anahi is the founder of Chicas De Chuco, a community organization dedicated to providing resources for El Paso womxn interested in careers in politics and activism. Through this organization, she has been able to host panel events with community leaders and create an online community of support for womxn in the Paso del Norte region. Anahi also serves as the Deputy Director of Marketing for the El Paso County Democratic Party, she is a precinct chair for the party, and serves as the Vice President for the Liberal Arts Honors Program at UTEP. Anahi plans to study Literature with a focus on Chicanx Literature and activism in her graduate studies, enter the professoriate, and eventually run for a public office. She is excited to apply what she will learn as a Texas Civic Ambassador in continuing to promote civic engagement in her community.

angie

Angie Whistler is a Junior at the University of North Texas studying International Economic Development, History, Political Science, and Spanish. Currently, she serves the student body as the Honors College Senator in the Student Government Association where she advocates for Voter Rights Initiatives, mental health reform, and environmentally-conscious university policies. She additionally is a member of the North Texas Forty, a UNT organization that recognizes the top forty leaders on campus, participates on the UNT Moot Court team, where she qualified for Nationals in the American Moot Court Association during her first year, and is a founding member of Emerald Amicus, an Undergraduate Law Review. Recently, her law review regarding 2nd Amendment legislative history won first place in humanities research at UNT. Her passion lies in research and advocacy, where she hopes to focus on policy reform in areas concerning higher education, climate change, and LGBTQ+ rights. She’s excited to gain new skill sets in advocacy and communication while serving as a Texas Civic Ambassador for the purpose of propelling civic participation on campus and is looking forward to research opportunities concerning civic and voter participation on college campuses for the purpose of mobilizing local change and building youth coalitions in light of national policy issues. Angie intends to pursue both graduate law school in hopes of earning a J.D. and Ph.D. for a career in legal and policy research. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, watching soccer, photography, and looking at dogs on Instagram.

Arrian

Arrian Ebrahimi, passionate about law and the legislative process, has taken initiative to create change in his community by working for Texas state Senator José Menéndez, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), and California state Assembly member Evan Low, as well as several civil rights and business advocacy groups. He has served as an American Legion Boys’ State counselor and Senator on the St. Edward’s University Student Government Association, and he is a student-athlete on his school's cross-country team. Having advocated a major piece of legislation in California relating to judicial independence, Arrian hopes to serve his new state as a Texas Civic Ambassador to open nonpartisan dialogue about this critical issue.

blanca

Blanca Margarita Molina was born in San Pedro, Coahuila located in Mexico but was raised in Laredo, Texas in the U.S. she was brought at a young age without much political interest. Her interest in politics really spiked during Obama’s initial presidential campaign and how significant proper representation for diversity really needed to be demonstrated then and in present time. Now being a DACA recipient really adds to her eagerness for knowledge and passion in politics. She is currently an incoming sophomore at Texas A&M International University where she’s in the College of Arts & Sciences. She plan to complete a Double Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in Political Science & Communications. After completion here at TAMIU she plans to further her studies at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Law. She aspires to become an Immigration attorney, and help those in need, just like someone helped her.

carlo

Carlo Flores is from McAllen, Texas and is a senior at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley majoring in International Business with a minor in Legal Studies. He has previously served in his university’s student government as a Senator, Committee Chair, Chair of the Senate, and Vice President, where he was able to collaborate with students as their elected representatives and effect real change. This includes the establishment of a multicultural meditation room for students of various faiths, and the creation of a DREAM Resource Center, where DREAM students can go get more information and assistance regarding school life. He was also heavily involved in registering students on the two main campuses during the 2018 election cycle, leading to a remarkable increase in voter turnout at his on-campus polling locations. Outside of school, he has interned with two Members of Congress, assisting the constituents of TX-15 with concerns including Social Security, immigration, Veterans’ Affairs, etc. He has also worked with various community organizations that participate in volunteer activities within the community.

carolyn

Carolyn Daly is a junior at Rice University from Rochester, New York. She is majoring in Social Policy Analysis and History and pursuing a Certificate in Spanish and a Certificate in Civic Leadership. Her longstanding interest in civic engagement was inspired by her mom, who brought her to the polling stations as a young kid and emphasized how lucky Americans are to be able to vote. In college, Carolyn became passionate about helping to empower people who traditionally face barriers to becoming civically engaged. Through Civic Duty Rice, a nonpartisan civic engagement club, she has learned from the community and nonprofits while helping to empower other students to become civically engaged. Carolyn loves learning about social justice causes, especially related to housing, education, and healthcare policy, both inside and outside of the classroom. She feels very lucky to have had a number of civic engagement opportunities, including serving as an Alternative Spring Break Site Leader & Participant, a Center for Civic Leadership Ambassador & Student Worker, a McMurtry Diversity Council Co-Chair, a Houston Youth Voters Conference Co-Founder, and interning at two nonprofits conducting policy research. Carolyn is excited to build upon her current experience in civic engagement and leadership skills through the TCA program, and to learn from student leaders and speakers from both sides of the aisle. Ultimately, she hopes learning from people with different backgrounds and political viewpoints will help her to create a more inclusive, nonpartisan dialogue during the 2nd Annual Houston Youth Voters Conference, an event that celebrates youths’ right and privilege to participate in democracy and effect change in our communities.

Christina

Christina Ciaburri is a current senior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Communication and Leadership, and Psychology with a public policy certificate. She currently serves and leads within the Leadership and Ethics Institute as a mentor for students that want to further develop their leadership skills on campus. She also works within the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement to promote their programs focused on service and volunteering. For over a year, she has prepared and conducted research in Mexico over low-income, informal settlements as a part of a President’s Global Learning team. Outside of academics, she loves volunteering and watching baking competitions. Christina is passionate about leadership, education, and simply helping others. She is beyond excited to be a Texas Civic Ambassador, as it will be a great resource to help expand her knowledge about civic engagement and mobilizing others in her community.

daphne

Daphne Flores is junior at Rice University studying Political Science and Linguistics. Even though she is originally from West New York, NJ, she has become invested in Texas civic life and politics. She is currently working on youth empowerment and engagement with Mi Familia Vota and on child health policy with the Baker Institute for Public Policy. She is also involved in Civic Duty Rice, Pi Sigma Alpha and HACER (Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice). In the past, Daphne has worked in the Press and Communications Office of the French Embassy in the U.S. With English, Spanish, French, German, and soon Arabic, she hopes to gain access to the international platform and work for a refugee agency. She wants to influence policy, engage communities worldwide, create and organize events, and ensure that the voices and capacities of refugees are incorporated into all facets of protection work. As a Texas Civic Ambassador, Daphne is excited to work with equally civically minded people.

David Amaya Headshot

David Amaya is a senior studying Political Science and History at Texas Wesleyan University. He interned for State Representative Ramon Romero, where he managed his local office and listened and spoke with his constituents directly to work on solutions to address their issues. Shortly thereafter, he became the Volunteer Coordinator for El Voto Es Latino, a 501 c4 that works to bridge the gap between the more than 27 million eligible latinx voters and the ballot box. He is now the Executive Director of El Voto Es Latino and is working on voter registration and providing key information on local government. It is his personal mission to promote civic engagement in the latinx community, whether it be voting or learning the skills to become an activist. As a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar, Honor student at his institution, and recipient of Outstanding Delegate for Model United Nations and Model Arab League, he is excited to improve his ability to promote his interest and improve his community by learning the skills taught by the Texas Civic Ambassadorship program.

Dianna Starr Headshot

Dianna Starr is an incoming Junior at Southwestern University and intends to graduate in 2021. While working towards a double major in Political Science and History, she currently serves as the Treasurer for the Southwestern University History Union and acts as a liaison between alumni and students through Southwestern University’s Student Foundation. Prior to attending Southwestern University, Dianna was an active Girl Scout for 13 years and volunteered extensively with non-profit organizations –earning the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 and her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Of the various volunteer opportunities, her Gold Award was the most impactful and acted as the introduction to Dianna’s intrigue and investment in politics. For her Gold Award, Dianna developed an Interfaith Resource Guide to educate children between the ages of Kindergarten to 2nd Grade about eight religious’ beliefs through kinesthetic, visual, and auditory elements. The Interfaith Resource Guide is currently in use in seven religious’ establishments in three different states and the message continues to spread to a variety of diverse organizations and religious facilities. Through her primary interests are in acknowledging gaps in religious impartiality, the repercussions of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the contemporary effects of the dissolution of the U.S.S.R, Dianna Starr is thrilled to work with the Texas Civic Ambassador Program to expand civic engagement on a local level and to encourage multicultural awareness.

Gisela Argote

Gisela Argote is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso pursuing a double major in Political Science and History. She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and hopes to raise civic engagement and health in the city. Gisela belongs to the Liberal Arts Honors Program, serves as President of the Brazilian Culture Center, Secretary of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, and is an Andrew W. Mellon HSI Pathway to the Professoriate Fellow. Her academic interests include Western political theory, political behavior, civic health and participation, fascism, and studying modern Europe in transnational and global perspectives, specifically with Latin America. Gisela is a huge soccer and basketball fan, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, attending concerts, reading, trying new coffee shops, and is a proud dog and cat mom. Gisela believes that a democracy cannot fully function without civic life and thus, is excited to serve as a Texas Civic Ambassador to strengthen her leadership skills to promote civic engagement, health and participation in El Paso and hopefully, all over Texas. After graduation, she plans on earning a PhD and seeing advancement in El Paso’s voter turnout.

Greg

Greg Norwood is a Political Science Major at Houston Community College where he currently serve as Student Government Association’s President- Elect, United Student Council’s Central Senator, and Board Member of HCC’s Student Fees Advisory Committee. He also serve as a Young Advocate for Young Invincible, and as an Advisory Board Member for Volunteer Houston’s Volunteer Corp. He is extremely honored to be a Texas Civic Ambassador. He is ready to get boots to the ground to begin implementing programs and events that educate the community on pertinent issues they are facing. In his free time he enjoys reading, frequenting museums, and eating delicious food.

Jackson Freeman

Jackson Freeman is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Government and Security Studies. He’s explored political advocacy and research throughout his years at UT, and he is very passionate about applying that experience towards climate policy and environmental adjustments that are desperately necessary for our changing climate. He is excited to serve as a Texas Civic Ambassador and represent a non-partisan approach to civic action and community development that will give me experience and skills for my future goals!

Kerry

Kerry Mackenzie is a sophomore Forty Acres Scholar studying Government and Plan II Honors at The University of Texas at Austin. Kerry fell in love with reading the news and debating politics as a kid and now strives to share that enthusiasm with others. She believes increasing civic engagement is the key to addressing problems in her community and building empathy between different groups. She has promoted this goal by serving as an intern for Senator Jane Nelson, as a Legislative Assistant at Texas Girls State, and working for a local non-profit as a Bank of America Student Leader. At the University of Texas, Kerry enjoys serving as a University- Wide representative in Student Government and interning for the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. Kerry is ecstatic to join the Texas Civic Ambassador community and learn how to best promote civil discourse and civic engagement on her campus.

Makayla Gorden

Makayla Gorden is currently a senior at Baylor University studying Political Science and Anthropology. Through her passion for global engagement and policy, she is the Fall 2019 President of the regional Eugene Scassa Model Organization of American States (MOAS). Additionally, she has been Head Delegate of the Baylor MOAS team for the past three semesters in models across Texas and Washington D.C. She has also worked in education as Community Liaison of the Baylor High School Project in Waco, Texas and as a Teaching Assistant in the Baylor History Department. After graduating, she hopes to work towards her Master’s degree in Gender Studies at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. During her free time, she is most likely talking, drinking coffee, or reading! She is honored to be a part of the Texas Civic Ambassadors Program and looks forward to using the program to further awareness and acceptance of engaging vulnerable populations in civic communities!

Marce Fuentes

Marce Fuentes is a junior undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, and Organizational and Corporate Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. After graduation, she expects to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. During her time as an undergraduate student she served as Campus Representative for the Student Body at El Paso Community College, she was treasurer for “Soñar Despierto Juarez - El Paso” a non-profit organization for the 2018-2019 term, and she is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha the political Science Honor Society at UTEP. She is honored to serve as Texas Civic Ambassador, knowing that this program is an exceptional opportunity to learn and share ideas on how to improve the civic life in Texas and her community.

Miriam Laeky

Miriam Laeky is a first-generation from Allen, TX, a north suburb of Dallas. She is a senior at Baylor University in the BIC honors program studying Political Science and Spanish on the pre-law track. She first became interested in politics after 2016, and this led her to working as a Student Fellow for the Beto for Senate 2018 and inspired her mom to vote for the very first time since immigrated to the U.S almost 30 years ago. Since then, she has been inspired to focus her advocacy on mobilizing civic engagement, representation, and equity in our Texas communities. As Shirley Chisolm once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Recently, she has served as Legislative Aide to Rep. Chris Turner at the Texas State Capitol, a Campaign & Policy Intern for the Texas Democratic Party, and Political Affairs Intern for the Borgen Project. She is very engaged with Multicultural Affairs and have proudly served as Secretary and President of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Student Association at Baylor. She has also used my 8 years of language studies and volunteered as an ESL teacher and translator in the Waco community for immigrants. As a Texas Civic Ambassador, she is excited to build bridges in her community and facilitate necessary discussions and initiatives on her campus and in her community.

nick davis

Nicholas Davis, a native of Texas, Mr. Nicholas Davis is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Texas Wesleyan University. Mr. Davis has received various awards and honors, the pinnacle of these being named a Texas Civic Ambassador for the 2019-2020 year and receiving the prestigious Hatton W. Sumner’s Scholarship in the Spring of 2017. Mr. Davis aspires to promote civic duty through constituent service to the campus and Greater Fort Worth community. Besides his community service, Mr. Davis is also an active student on campus participating in various interscholastic Texas Wesleyan teams and on-campus organizations. Following his undergraduate studies, Mr. Davis aspires to study public policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin and work and advocated for Texas public education policy in and around the State Capitol.

Nick eastwood

Nick Eastwood is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, double majoring in International Relations and Russian Eastern European and Eurasian Studies with a certificate in global business management. Upon graduation, he hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in litigation. During his time as an undergraduate, Nick has interned with State Representative Lyle Larson, served on the UT election supervisory board, and currently works at Humanities Texas, the state affiliate for the National Endowment of the Humanities. As a Texas Civic Ambassador, Nick is excited to have the opportunity to encourage and educate his peers on the importance of political engagement and work to expand voter registration access in Texas.

Tammy

Tammy Chang is currently a senior at the University of Houston, studying Marketing at the C.T. Bauer College of Business. Previously, she served as a senator in Student Government and worked on initiatives to increase campus participation during the 2018 midterm elections. She is also a member of the Honors College, a Ted Bauer Undergraduate Business Scholar, and a Model Arab League delegate. She works on campus as a REACH Diversity Peer Educator at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and as a research assistant for the SURE™ Program. In her free time, Tammy participates in Club Theater shows, cheers on the Cougars as a Bleacher Creature, and registers her friends to vote. She is honored to serve as a Texas Civic Ambassador and looks forward to developing her leadership skills and continuing her advocacy in encouraging students to foster a lifelong habit of civic participation.

Tasnim Islam

Tasnim Islam is an incoming sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, studying Plan II Honors, Women & Gender Studies, and Pre-Med. Her favorite organizations she's involved with are Student Government and Queer Trans People of Color Agency. She's worked as a field organizer on multiple campaigns and loves other types of policy work, trying to change the lives of marginalized groups. Additionally, she spends all of her free time dancing to Bollywood music, swimming at Barton Springs, and cooking tasty dishes! She's thrilled to take her civic engagement to the next level while educating as many people as she can on POC and LGBTQIA+ justice.

Tegan Debrock

Tegan Debrock is a sophomore at Texas State University studying Political Science. He has always lived in San Marcos, Texas and is proud to stay and attend college here. He is passionate about uniting the student and local community in the city; it is strengthened by his university while being so much more than “just” a college town. Additionally, he is a transgender man who has been active in LGBT advocacy, and an Air Force ROTC cadet preparing to become a military officer after college. He’s excited to serve as a Texas Civic Ambassador because civic engagement plays such a critical role in our communities. He strives to be part of the effort to support Texans becoming active and engaged in issues that affect their daily lives.

Teresa Cropper

Teresa Cropper is a senior at Southwestern University, pursuing a double major in Political Science and History with a minor in Environmental Studies. Throughout her undergraduate career, Teresa has interned for State Representative Diego Bernal, Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Georgetown Law’s Continuing Legal Education Department. On Southwestern’s campus, Teresa has been actively involved in cultivating a campus environment where students are encouraged to be civically engaged. She is currently a student organizer for the SU Voter Friendly Committee and an intern for Southwestern’s Project for Free Speech and Civil Discourse. She previously served as a Community Engaged Learning Teacher Assistant for American Politics and as College Democrats president. Teresa is also a student-athlete on the Southwestern women’s swim team and works as a lifeguard at the campus pool. Teresa is very excited to be a Texas Civic Ambassador to learn more about civic engagement and to have the opportunity to continue working towards having a more civically active campus.

Zack Magallanez

Zack Magallanez is currently a graduate student in the Master’s of Public Administration program at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Public Policy. Born and raised in San Antonio, Zack has a deep commitment to create a lasting impact in his community through civic activation and participation. He is inspired by community leaders and activists who came before him to stand up against social inequalities and injustices. Zack is passionate about equitable access to quality educational opportunities, housing, and community engagement. He currently works for cafècollege, a college-access center located in the downtown area of San Antonio, providing students from across the city with opportunities and resources in their pursuit of higher education. Outside of full-time work and school, he enjoys learning about global issues, exploring the outdoors, running and cycling, and all things coffee and hip-hop. Zack is honored to have been selected to serve as a Texas Civic Ambassador. He hopes to gain the necessary insight and leadership skills to help advance his community forward.