UTSA Honors College Students Serve as Congressional Interns

December 15, 2020

Forough Askarirad and Jasmin Paquet-Durand Ford, UTSA Honors College students, have secured the highly competitive internship at U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s offices. As interns, they keep Congressman Doggett and his staff abreast of local affairs, keeping the team in Washington DC informed about what is happening in San Antonio. Askarirad primarily focuses on research needed on issues and topics, while Ford’s portfolio ranges from social media postings, to community event planning, and constituent services.

Forough Askarirad, a UTSA Terry Scholar, is a psychology major and global affairs minor who plans to become an attorney. She is involved in the UTSA community as a leader in the campus initiative Mental Health Day as well as a volunteer with the Center for Refugee Services.

Jasmin Paquet-Durand Ford, an economics major looking to have a career focused on environmental and social injustice has similarly devoted her time and efforts outside of her academics. Ford takes part in UTSA’s Supplemental Instruction program as a SI leader and is an Honors College Peer Coach. She moved to San Antonio a little over a year ago and was looking to be more involved, which is one of the biggest reasons why she decided to pursue this internship. “I knew it was a golden opportunity to tap into the heartbeat of my local community,” Jasmin states.

Both students are aiming to attend law school in the future, and this internship provides them with the opportunities and experience they need to have further insight into what their future career choice will be like. Although the internship is virtual, the value of the experience has not changed. “I saw this as an opportunity to gain first-hand experience on what it takes to be a change maker, specifically in the public sector,” Ford stated. As for Askarirad, she feels the experience she gains from the internship will “give [her] the skills necessary to succeed in law school and [her] future profession.” Both students are also able to better understand the importance of having a position that represents their community. Ford believes that “being an intern for the Congressman has really brought home just how much responsibility it is to truly represent a community, and how valuable of an experience that is.”

Askarirad and Ford both applied to the internship after hearing about this opportunity from Dr. Drew Chapman, UTSA Honors College’s director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. UTSA’s Honors College provides students the opportunity to be more actively engaged in their community and academics, gaining experience and outside knowledge along the way. In the Honors College “each student has a totally unique path that is tailored to their goals,” Said Ford. By taking this opportunity to branch out, network, and participate in different opportunities, these students are able to learn more about themselves and their future in non-traditional ways.

Pursuing opportunities in a virtual environment is challenging and both Honors College students have shown resiliency in not allowing current events to prevent them from succeeding. With the Doggett internship, they are able to network and build connections that will benefit them as they continue to move towards their career goals.

- Cynthia Gonzalez