UT System program brings students to D.C. for an academic experience in the nation’s capitol

Van Nguyen

The Archer Fellowship Program brought UT alumnus Arjun Rawal from Austin to Washington D.C. and provided him with an experience he said greatly impacted his time as a student.

The UT System offers the Archer Fellowship Program at the Archer Center in D.C. and allows undergraduates to intern as well as take classes during the fall or spring semester.

Rawal studied government and Arabic but said his time at UT felt lacking until he participated in the Archer Fellowship Program. The program gave him hands-on experience learning about the
policy-making process.

“Archer was incredibly impactful because it taught me the skills to succeed in a place like D.C., and if you can succeed in a place like D.C., in my opinion, you can succeed anywhere else,” Rawal said. “It really is a positive and beneficial experience, especially as a young person. It’s an incredibly unique but useful experience that a lot of people don’t realize until they go through it.”

Rawal worked at the United States Agency for International Development as a legislative affairs intern, and after graduating in spring 2016, he was invited back to work for the Bureau of the Middle East in the Office of Middle East Affairs.

The Archer Center, founded in 2001, is an extension of the UT System in Washington D.C., where it runs the Archer Fellowship Program for undergraduate students and the Graduate Program in Public Policy for graduate students.

Former Congressman Bill Archer founded a high school internship program during his first year as a representative to bring students from his district to Washington D.C. This program ran for 30 years and Archer built upon this idea toward the end of his career when he collaborated with UT-Austin, his alma mater, to create the Archer Center in Washington D.C.  

“I’ve been interested in young people ever since I got into politics, and [I’ve] been concerned about helping to develop leaders, originally for the state of Texas, and then nationally and, more recently, internationally,” Archer said. “We’re very proud of [the program.] It’s produced a lot of leaders, and everywhere the Archer fellows intern, they seem to get very high marks.”

According the Archer Center website, in the last 15 years, more than 950 undergraduate and graduate students from the UT System have gone through the program.

“We’re looking for students from different academic backgrounds and different policy interests,” said Katie Romano, director of the Archer Center. “We think that helps the classroom experience and the overall experience become more enriching for all students. You may have a class with some government majors and communication majors, but we also have students interested in going to medical school and people interested in the sciences.”

Information sessions are offered through the fall semester at UT-Austin for students interested in the program. 

This story has been updated since its initial publication to correct the spelling of Arjun Rawal's name.