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Texas Senate program features 5 Baylor students

Jan. 18, 2001

Bob Bullock Scholars work with legislators, gain university credit

By BJ GOERGEN

Staff Writer

While many students settle back into their old routines in Waco, five Baylor students are spending their time working for the Texas Senate in Austin. After a year of planning, the Bob Bullock Scholars program was launched this semester.

Sen. David Sibley (R-Waco) spearheaded the effort to raise money and organize the scholars program to honor late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. Sibley met with Dr. James Curry, chairman of the political science department, and members of the Baylor administration to establish a program that would give students valuable experience working in the Texas Legislature.

'It is a rare occurrence for a student to be a part of the legislative process,' Curry said.

Sibley met with the students last semester to determine their interests and placed each student with a member of the Senate.

Sarah Thompson, a Houston sophomore, is working for Sen. Mike Jackson (R-La Porte), who is vice chairman of the committee in charge of re-districting. Thompson spends her days writing letters to constituents and processing legislative bills presented to the Senate.

'There is such an energy here, and I have learned so many practical things,' Thompson said.

Thompson thought she wanted to work in the legislature after college, and her experience in Austin has confirmed her decision.

Josh Tetens, an Arlington senior, will be researching certain bills and lobbying senators to make sure those bills pass. Because of his interest in criminal justice, Sibley placed him with Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who served on the Criminal Justice Committee for several legislative sessions.

'I'm learning how to handle bills and how laws are passed and created,' Tetens said.

The scholars program is offered to all students every two years when the Texas Legislature is in session. Students receive a stipend of $6,000 to offset the cost of living in Austin. Curry also works with students so that they can receive up to 12 hours of credit through the political science department.

The remaining scholars are Jonathan Sibley, a Waco junior; Kelley Stripling, a Nacogdoches senior; and Kathy Zarate, San Marcos junior.