The Archer Fellowship: Virtual Edition
During the COVID-19 pandemic, universities faced the challenge of continuing classes in a virtual format. Moreover, hundreds of university programs, associations, clubs, and internships offered on campus went virtual. Before the pandemic, the Bill Archer Fellowship brought a cohort of ten students from the University of Texas at San Antonio to Washington, D.C., each semester for academic study and internship experience to empower students to pursue a career related to policy and civic engagement. Living and working in D.C., each student participates in a policy-related internship connected to their academic major while taking courses in policy-making and governance. Past students have selected internships from the U.S. Department of State, United Nations Information Centre, federal agencies, to non-profit organizations. All full-time internships equate to six hours of course credits from UTSA, and some internships are paid.
During the Fall 2020 semester, the Archer Fellowship program kept its promise to students to deliver a once in a lifetime experience. All program components could occur virtually but students also had the option the opportunity to attend small sessions in person. Virtual sessions were synchronous, covering subjects such as Policy, Advocacy, and History. Internships also were offered either in-person or virtually. Back at home in San Antonio, Elisa Perkins Cuellar, who manages the Archer Fellowship Program at UTSA, continued to drive the rigorous program forward. Whether by contacting her students throughout their stay in D.C. or helping them find an internship that matches well with them, she ensured the best possible experience.
From Zoom sessions to virtual internships, the Archer Fellowship thrived this Fall. Grace Chen, a Junior double major in Psychology and Politics and Law with a Business Administration minor, shared that she felt overwhelmed with joy and thankful upon admission into the program. "It is a prestigious program that carries much weight with the name." Grace is currently at the Archer Center in Washington, D.C., with students from other University of Texas system campuses in this year's cohort. Grace’s positive experience in the program motivates her to encourage other UTSA students to explore this opportunity. "No matter your discipline or interests, there is something you can gain by being a part of the Archer Fellowship. As UTSA students, we have a great opportunity to network with students and professors in the University of Texas System and beyond by working and living in Washington, DC. I encourage you all to take advantage of this opportunity and to make something great of it." Grace found that networking facilitated by Archer led to other opportunities that are crucial to professional development.
The Archer Fellowship Program application is open from November through February each academic year. Elisa Perkins Cuellar welcomes any highly motivated student interested in the program to discuss a future in Archer with her. "If you are interested in the opportunity to experience living, learning, and working in our nation's capital, consider applying for the Archer Fellowship program. Policy affects all fields, so students of all majors are encouraged to apply. The application for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 is now open."