On the evening of July 29, IC2 leadership traveled to McAllen, Texas, for an event with participants in a new UT Austin summer internship program. Home to Texas (HTT) is an IC² Institute program that returns undergraduates to their hometowns with paid summer internships and experiences aimed to help them understand the underlying values of their home communities.
Over 50 Rio Grande Valley community members gathered with HTT students and UT Austin representatives at the Patio on Guerra for conversation about the role of the program in the community. Some notable attendees included U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, State Representative Oscar Longoria, State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr, McAllen City Commissioner Veronica Whitacre, local Texas Exes, and UT Rio Grande Valley business faculty. Flying down from UT Austin for the event were Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Brent Iverson; IC² Institute Director, Art Markman; IC² Institute Deputy Director Greg Pogue; and Rubén Cantú and Milagros Lopez from UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
HTT placed students in McAllen, Amarillo, Brenham, and Kerrville to intern at local companies, interview community and civic leaders, engage with the UT alumni network, and report their findings. Six of this summer’s HTT students are in McAllen. Sharon Flores, a Texas Ex based in McAllen, facilitated internships in the McAllen area and coordinated Monday night’s gathering. According to Greg Pogue, “The generosity of the community and leadership as well as the initiative and productivity of the students were a constant refrain throughout the evening.”
Art Markman conceived of the program this year and is excited about its future. He noted, “It was wonderful to see how much our students got out of their summer with Home to Texas. The work for the host companies was rewarding, and they all gained a new appreciation for their community. The presence of so many Texas Exes and government officials at the event really showed our students how important they are to the future of the region. We look forward to sending another group to McAllen next summer.”
As part of its efforts to research and facilitate entrepreneurship and growth in sometimes-overlooked communities, the IC² Institute plans to expand the Home to Texas program in the coming year with more student placements in more regions. To find out how to get involved, email the HTT program at IC² Institute.