EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – The Archer Center selected a record nine undergraduates from The University of Texas at El Paso for its prestigious semester-long fellowship program in Washington, D.C. In the program, students receive firsthand experience in public service and policymaking.

The UTEP students will intern full-time with a government agency or organization of their choice. Previous Archer Fellows have served at the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Department of State and offices in the White House and on Capitol Hill, as well as numerous nonprofit organizations. The students will participate during either the fall 2022 or the spring 2023 semester.

The best students at UTEP can compete with the best students anywhere. We’ve started identifying exceptional students and encouraging them to apply. The interview panel told us that they were very impressed by the quality of our applicants.

Heather Wilson, UTEP President

UTEP’s 2022-23 Archer Fellows have majors or minors in languages, linguistics, journalism, philosophy, communication, Chicano studies, legal reasoning and political science. Many of them expressed interest in learning how legislators make policy, and in sharing their skills, talents and perspectives of life on the U.S.-Mexico border with the rest of their cohort.

Here are UTEP’s 2022 Archer Fellows:

  • Joseline “Josie” Avila is a senior double major in communication studies and political science. The El Paso native and first-generation college student said the Archer fellowship would allow her to experience the legislative process. She said her involvement would refine her talents and satisfy her passion for public service. She plans to study abroad in Costa Rica this summer.
  • Margaret Cataldi, senior multimedia journalism major, is a former editor and reporter with The Prospector. She hoped that her Archer involvement would provide her with the necessary tools, experiences and connections for a career in public policy. She will participate in UTEP’s Law School Preparation Institute this summer.
  • Daniela K. Cisneros, senior political science major, grew up in El Paso and Juárez, Mexico. She expects the Archer experience to expand her knowledge of cultures, ideologies and policy-making procedures. Cisneros has been, and continues to be, involved in political causes. She plans to enroll in law school and become an immigration attorney in El Paso.
  • Saul Armando Fontes is a senior Chicano studies major. He was a fellow with the Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP, an officer with UTEP’s chapter of M.E.Ch.A., and an intern with the City of El Paso’s Department of Planning and Inspections. He is politically active and expects to enroll in a master’s program for urban planning.
  • Matthew Gardea, a junior philosophy major, is a Terry Scholar and the youngest member of Horizon City’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He hoped that his Archer Fellowship would give him a better understanding of how government works, which would help him to pursue a career in public service during the expected generational change in leadership.
  • Isaiah Iturralde, a senior political science major, said he wants to network in Washington, D.C., and to study the legislative process. The El Paso native and Terry Scholar plans to use what he learns to promote policies that will help the young homeless population in El Paso and, later, to become a strong candidate for law school.
  • Alyssa Martinez, a junior political science major, said she wants to enhance her knowledge about the legislative process, and to develop relationships that will help her achieve a career in public service. The El Pasoan is a Dean’s List regular who was part of the Law School Preparation Institute. She will be the Student Government Association vice president in 2022-23. 
  • Brianna Iberty Trevino, a senior political science major, called the fellowship a “priceless” opportunity to broaden her perspective and refine the soft skills she developed at UTEP. The El Paso native has been on the Dean’s List since fall 2020 and earned the “Senator of the Year” honor from the Student Government Association in 2021-22. 
  • Ian Valdez, a senior linguistics major, is an El Paso native and first-generation college student. He is a military veteran who has worked on election campaigns for both parties from the local to national levels around the country. He learned when to talk and when to listen, which led to valuable connections. Valdez, who is active on campus, is excited about this opportunity.

“The Archer Fellowship provides life-changing opportunities,” said Arturo Barrio, assistant vice president for international relations and the campus’ Archer program coordinator. “We are very excited to see more UTEP students participate.”

The Archer program, which launched in 2001, is open to students in The University of Texas System. Since the program’s inception, 72 UTEP students – 55 undergraduates and 17 graduate students – have been named Archer Fellows. UTEP was the only institution from the UT System that registered an increase in applications this year. The nine students selected this year eclipsed the record of six undergraduates who participated during the 2021-22 academic year.

The UT System worked with former U.S. Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, to establish the Archer Fellowship Program. Each application process is competitive and those selected are among the best and brightest from throughout the UT System.

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