Bridging Disciplines Programs

Home » bdp » student-profiles » Maya Patel


Maya Patel

Maya Patel Headshot
Graduation Year:
Spring 2020
BDP Certificate:
Public Policy
“Seeing reports published that I helped write or letters that I wrote be submitted to the Secretary of Interior and Commerce is so incredibly rewarding.”

Maya Patel, a Chemistry major completing a BDP in Public Policy, spent the summer in Washington, D.C. as an environmental and policy intern at the Center for American Progress. There she learned a great deal about the day-to-day world of policy making and reflected on her next steps after UT.

How did you find your internship?
I was looking online for internships and stumbled upon this internship program and decided to apply.

Describe the work you did in your internship.
I was an environmental and energy policy intern at the Center for American Progress (CAP). I mainly worked with the public lands team and oceans team to address and combat actions from the Trump administration, Congress, Department of Interior, and Department of Commerce that undermine our public lands and oceans. On a day-to-day basis tasks would include writing memos, fact sheets, letters to the DOI and DOC, tweets to accompany products that my team put out, and interactive products that we could release to the public.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
Seeing reports published that I helped write or letters that I wrote be submitted to the Secretary of Interior and Commerce is so incredibly rewarding. It has been amazing to be in an environment here at CAP where we are fueling and leading most of the progressive policy efforts. Working alongside the experts that have created such amazing programs with lasting legacies like the Affordable Care Act or Every Kid in A Park is inspiring and I have been able to start creating an incredible professional network.

In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
As an undergraduate chemistry student trying to navigate the world of policy making, this internship was incredibly useful. I have been struggling to decide what my next step after undergraduate school is and whether a law degree or master’s in public policy or some other type of graduate degree would be best. After being able to sit down with many executives and professionals at CAP and ask for advice I think I am leaning towards attending a joint law and public policy program where I can get a JD and MPP degree simultaneously. The law degree will train me to analyze the law and understand how to craft arguments when making laws and the master’s in public policy or affairs will help fill in the political science gaps of my education.

Discuss the relationship you had with your faculty mentor and how they helped you during this Connecting Experience.
Dr. Galbraith has been incredibly supportive. When I first asked him to be my faculty mentor he agreed to it with almost no hesitation even though I had not really interacted with him much in any capacity before. Even though we had just met, before I left his office after completing the Connecting Experience paperwork, with no hesitation he wrote a handwritten letter to someone he knew at CAP asking them to look out for me while I was in D.C.