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Alison Leland addresses TCEQ’s interns at conference

Namesake’s widow keynote speaker

Alison Leland addressing Mickey Leland Internship Conference attendees.
Alison Leland addressing Mickey Leland Internship Conference attendees.

As the summer term winds down and the fall semester begins, it is not too early for college students to start thinking about what they will be doing next summer.

Each summer, students who earn Mickey Leland internships with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, not only get valuable job and real-world experiences, but they are also treated to a one-day conference with numerous special speakers.

The 2017 class of interns was treated to a special keynote speaker during the mid-July conference at the University of Texas at Austin’s Pickle Campus: Alison Leland, who teaches political science in the Honors College at the University of Houston and is the widow of Mickey Leland, a Houston congressman and champion of many causes. The legislator died in a plane crash in Ethiopia in 1989 and is the namesake for the TCEQ program that started in 1992.

“It makes me very proud that after all these years that this program is named in memory of my husband,” Alison Leland told the interns.

She said Mickey became involved in politics as an undergraduate student while he was training to be a pharmacist and was elected in the Texas Legislature at the age of 27.

“He was a passionate advocate for the poor and the hungry,” she said.

Among her advice, Leland told the interns to stay informed. “You have to stay part of the conversation,” she said.

She also told the interns to be aware of their appearances, not only in dress but also in speech.

Since its inception in 1991, more than 2,000 interns have gone through the TCEQ’s program, which places participants in programs throughout the agency but also in other state agencies and in the private sector.

The 2017 class had more than 600 applicants for only 100 positions available.

For those interested in a 2018 Mickey Leland Environmental Internship, applications are typically posted in January.

Alison Leland surrounded by this year’s interns—including those on the TV screen, via teleconference from TCEQ regions.
Alison Leland surrounded by this year’s interns—including those on the TV screen, via teleconference from TCEQ regions.