The trip was coordinated with students from the Austin College undergraduate public health program in Sherman, Texas, taught by Dr. Mathias Akuoka, a PhD graduate of the UNTHSC School of Public Health.
“Students from both our SPH and Austin College enjoyed the collaboration and would like to continue working together in future legislative sessions,” Dr. Lykens said. “In fact, some of our students are Austin College alumni, so the two groups had a lot in common.”
One highlight of the trip was a welcome and public introduction of both classes to the March 13 House of Representatives full session.
The students also had an opportunity to observe the Senate Floor debate on Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) – Texas Privacy Act “Transgender Bathroom Bill or Potty Bill,” relating to Regulations and Policies for Using a Bathroom or Changing Facility.
The two classes also attended the State Affairs Committee Hearing on Senate Bill 31 (SB 31) on texting while driving.
“Personal testimony from citizens who have lost family members in texting-related accidents was presented, and the most compelling moment came when two children testified with their uncle about the loss of both of their parents and their brother’s permanent paralysis in a fatal accident from texting,” Dr. Lykens said.
Students met individually with staff of legislators whose bills they had selected, researched and followed, and they were granted access to a special Capitol conference room for daily debriefings with the professors, thanks to arrangements by Danny Jensen, UNTHSC Vice-President for Governmental Affairs
SPH students participating in this year’s trip were Megan Bhatti, Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, Kirsteen Edereka Great, Patrick Li, Gabrielle Logan, Michael McClure, Soha Mayurkumar Patel, Laura Phipps and Courtney Searles.
pictured at top: SPH students and Dr. Kris Lykens at the State Capitol with Texas Representative Larry Philips (Rep) from Sherman