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Eye-Opening, Confidence Building: Working with Port Arthur, Beaumont Area Leadership

Alondra Madsen, Mechanical Engineering Major at Cockrell School of Engineering

Beaumont Area, Port of Port Arthur Internship


Home to Texas Program 2021Student Blog

This summer I had the privilege of interning at the Port of Port Arthur with a program called Home to Texas. Home to Texas is a relatively new program at the University of Texas at Austin (3 years strong) that aims to bring students, like me, back to our hometowns with internships and the task of interviewing community leaders.

My first day at the Port was an interesting one. I got to the office 30 minutes before I was asked to and was sitting in my car thinking about what in the world was I supposed to do at a port. I am pretty sure that the thought of having to drive the ships crossed my mind once or twice. The thirty minutes passed and a man walked out of the office and started to wave at me to invite me inside. He introduced himself as Larry Kelley, Port CEO and Director. Eventually, after meeting everyone in the office he took me on a tour around the Port and was overloading my brain with all the things that go on. He was talking about who the Port exports to and receives imports from, what types of things the Port handles, projects going on at the Port, and how the Port operates. Smoke was coming out of my ears by the end of it because my brain was working overtime trying to keep up. I was completely ignorant of how much goes on in a small town like Port Arthur.

When I first heard about having to interview people I was extremely nervous. I tend to just let people come to me and before this I kind of followed that “don’t speak unless spoken to” rule. I thought it was going to be a drag to find people who were willing to be interviewed. However, I was proven wrong, it was refreshing to see how eager people were to share their perspectives. Let me tell you, hearing about how much people love their small communities like Beaumont and Port Arthur were some of the most joyful moments of my summer. All of my life I have wanted to move to a big city or travel across the world to work on solutions that will have a huge impact on peoples’ lives. I still do want to make a change, make a difference, live a meaningful life but I realized after picking at so many brilliant local minds, I don’t have to go far to start my journey. I had a great conversation with one of the elected officials from my area and she mentioned how towns like ours need people that have love and compassion for their communities for them to truly thrive. Not everyone is up for the task of fixing an imperfect city but there are so many people waiting on that person filled with that love and compassion to come and make astronomical changes.

This summer I have learned so much about myself and my community. I have gotten to work alongside the Director of Engineering, Ed Long, all summer long and as an incoming second-year Mechanical Engineering major it has been insightful. I have attended meetings with other engineers discussing the ongoing projects at the port. I have gotten the chance to attend luncheons and learn how to properly network. I even had the opportunity to help with an annual week-long youth camp that the Port offers, that allows youth to explore maritime career paths. Now here I am with a few weeks left of one of the most knowledge-packed experiences of my life. I could take you on that port tour that I mentioned earlier, granted it probably would not be as great as Mr. Kelley’s, and teach you a thing or two. But I have also learned about the values my community holds and the underlying problems we face. My hometown is not perfect and there are a lot of obstacles in our path before we can reach that level but we have amazing leaders that are pushing us through. As I am wrapping up my internship, I have realized that I am one of those people filled with love and compassion and I am ready to step up to the plate for my hometown.


Find the Home to Texas 2021 Student Blog Series below:

  1. Intro: Developing Future Community Leaders Today
  2. The Day in the Life of a Home to Texas Summer Intern
  3. Herd Immunity Starts at Borders: Brownsville’s Maquiladora COVID-19 Vaccine Effort
  4. Eye-Opening, Confidence Building: Working with Port Arthur, Beaumont Area Leadership
  5. Internship Renews Commitment to Hometown of Tyler, TX
  6. Home to Texas Internship Leads to an Eye-Opening Juneteenth Experience
  7. Coming Soon
  8. Coming Soon

For more information on the Home to Texas program or how to support future leaders in communities across Texas, please send a note to info@ic2.utexas.edu.

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