CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to West Texas A&M University, two graduates and members of the McNair Scholars program were selected for prestigious appointments in Washington D.C., with paid internships from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

WT said that 2017 graduate Michelle Galdamez and 2022 graduate Madeline Kleinschmidt were among the 26 people chosen for the 2022 cohort of the institute, out of 300 applicants. The appointments will run from August through May.

“We are exceptionally proud of Michelle and Madeline, and it speaks to the level of academic rigor WT provides its students that two of our program’s alumni were selected for the institute,” said Victoria Salas, director of WT’s McNair Scholars program. “Both students will be empowered to make effective changes through civic engagement in their future careers as a result of their CHCI internships.”

Galdamez, said WT, graduated with a dual master’s in public health and public administration from Texas Tech University in May, after her bachelor’s in health sciences at WT in 2017. She plans to work in health policy for her internship and was awarded the CHCI graduate fellowship designed for emerging Latino leaders in her field.

“My time as a McNair scholar marks the beginning of my journey advocating for a positive impact in the health status of all Latino communities,” Galdamez said, “I’m excited to contribute my shared experiences as a first-gen immigrant Latina and continue advocating for equitable health access.”

Kleinschmidt, said WT, earned a bachelor’s in international business and was awarded the CHCI Bank of America Public Policy Fellowship. Her cohort is expected to work directly on Capitol Hill and explore public policy issues.

“This internship will provide me with an extraordinary level of professional experience and leadership skills,” Kleinschmidt said. “I look forward to taking part in the legislative process and understanding its unique role in implementing foreign policy.”

CHCI was described by university officials as an institution providing leadership, public service, and policy experiences for outstanding Latino students and young professionals. Alongside the paid fellowship placements in D.C., those selected for the institute also meet with members of Congress and other public officials and leaders to discuss issues facing the nation and the Hispanic community. The organization promotes four “Pillars of Leadership” including civic engagement, social responsibility, self-empowerment, and promoting community and Hispanic culture.

Meanwhile, WT described the McNair Scholars Program – formally the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program – as funded by the US Department of Education. It was named after Dr. Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to fly in space. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle Mission in 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the program.