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2022-2023 Cohort Members

Alexia Aguilar


Alexia Aguilar is majoring in strategic communications with an emphasis on public relations and minoring in public leadership and energy and sustainability. She hopes to use her classroom learning and membership in the Public Relations Student Society of America to help advocate for women’s empowerment, especially those in the immigrant community. Aguilar wanted to be a part of the Next Generation Leadership Academy to increase her understanding of policy and to educate her peers. She balances her academic goals with her respect for nature through activities in the UH Horticulture Society.


Ruth Brittingham


Ruth Brittingham’s passion for climate change, land issues and wildlife preservation drives her career goal to become an administrator in the U.S. National Parks Service. She believes that with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in public leadership, she will be able to integrate her passions into a successful career. In addition to her academic and professional pursuits, Brittingham has been active in groups working to secure women’s reproductive rights and volunteered her time to bring resources to food deserts in Houston.


Rayna Claunch


Rayna Claunch is studying psychology and seeking a minor in public leadership. One of her goals is to help young adults overcome their experiences in the criminal justice system. She is focused on nonprofit leadership and business acumen to build a network of support to address economic and personal challenges faced by youth. Claunch’s determination was sparked when worldwide attention on racial violence intensified following the death of Houstonian George Floyd. She hopes to further apply her efforts to organizations that address the foster care system, abuse victims and rehabilitation.


McKenzie Dalcour


McKenzie Dalcour is a political science major and paralegal minor. She transferred from San Jacinto College after earning an associate degree in paralegal studies. Dalcour is folding her focus on women’s issues into her leadership goals, hoping to apply what she learns to become a student and community leader. At San Jacinto College, she was active in the Student Government Association, where she served as vice president and parliamentarian, as well as the Phi Theta Kappa and Lambda Epsilon Chi national honor societies for her academic accomplishments and paralegal studies.


Gabriela Hamdieh


Gabriela Hamdieh serves as the special events chair for the UH Student Program Board. She chose the public policy program at the Hobby School to better understand the policies that affect our daily lives and how leaders bring about positive change. She wants the experiential learning component of the Next Generation Leadership Academy to build her professional network and become familiar with government processes and the role of nonprofits. Hamdieh assists UH students seeking financial solutions to complete their college education through her work in the student business services department.


Nikita Harris


Nikita Harris is working toward a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications. Her experience in a multitude of vocations has allowed her to work in professional environments, where she has learned to apply her leadership and organizing skills efficiently. Harris’ passions have been formulated around equity in the workplace, racial justice and climate change and animal welfare. Her community activism centers around raising scholarship funds for students involved in 4-H agricultural clubs and serving as the vice president of her local organization.


Jared Lewis


Jared Lewis is a public policy major interning with the Mayor’s Office of Education at the City of Houston in fall 2022 through the Hobby School Civic Houston Internship Program. He previously worked as a substitute teacher in Katy Independent School District. A lifelong learner, Lewis’ vocation was borne out of his passion for sharing knowledge. His interest in education policy was piqued by his love of teaching and the goals of a modern education system. He is active with the UH College Democrats on campus, where he builds his student organizing and collaboration skills. After he graduates, Lewis hopes to apply his experience to improve the systems that affect his community.


Bryanna Nimmons


Bryanna Nimmons is an undergraduate public policy student with aspirations of pursuing a career where she can apply her communication and interpersonal skills to become a lobbyist and develop policy that improves her community. Her passion for women’s health and economic equity have motivated her to become acquainted with how policies are introduced and enacted. Nimmons is a National Society of Collegiate Scholar and hopes to become more active on campus to augment her political and cultural interests, including the student mock trial teams, public interest groups and Black student organizations.


Alexa Perez


Alexa Perez is a sophomore majoring in economics and public policy and minoring in phronesis. She is active with the UH Terry Scholarship Foundation, which has nurtured her career development and community service goals. Through her membership in the UH Honors College Open Mind Society, Perez is broadening her academic scope through peer and guided discussions on issues of the day, such as jury efficacy, agricultural policy, environmental conservation and utopian societies. Her greatest motivation is drawn from her parent’s commitment to education for a better life.