The division in national politics and the lack of compromise initially deterred one Waxahachie graduate from pursuing a career in the field. After close interactions with state politicians, Abbey Melick realized that they are often willing to negotiate positively and run a cohesive government.
The 2017 Waxahachie High graduate currently operates the front desk of State Rep. John Wray's office at the Texas Capitol. Melick began her internship in January and manages secretarial work and conducts research for bills.
“I think I would eventually like to work for a nonprofit or, I really love my internship this semester, so maybe eventually get involved in politics,” Melick explained during an interview at the Daily Light office while home for the weekend. “I feel like politics has been kind of tainted for me, but my internship so far has changed that. It has made me view it in a more positive light.”
When Melick was 17 she applied to the University of Texas at Austin with interest in politics and political science.
“I came down with the intention that if I don’t like it, I can change it, and, I ended up loving it,” she expressed.
The most challenging aspect is balancing her school, jobs and extracurricular activities, along with helping run her friend’s student-government campaign.
Even though Melick currently works at the University of Texas School of Law nine hours a week, she does not plan to pursue a career in that profession. In the meantime, Melick accomplishes a 13-hour course workload and 15 hours of work in the Capitol weekly.
Before working at the official state Capitol building, Melick was a bit intimidated by the power of individuals and the status they held. Within the first day, she realized most have an unpretentious attitude.
“They are genuinely invested in my life and like how I’m doing in school and everything," she elaborated. "It’s a really cool experience to get to know them.”
Melick is in the office three days a week to greet people as they enter Wray’s office, answers the phone, helps schedule and plan events and conducts research for bills.
She recalled researching information for the bill to help Navarro College offer baccalaureate degrees in nursing. She examined tax brackets and also solicited input feedback from constituents.
Wray recently filed House Bill 1749, which would allow for Navarro College to offer a four-year degree in nursing.
Wray expressed in an email that he is fortunate to have Melick on staff during the 86th Texas Legislative session.
"A lot of college students spend their free time doing this or that, but Abbey chooses to spend it working in service of the people of House District 10," Wray noted. "Daily, she exhibits the kind of maturity, professionalism, and work ethic that I would expect from any paid staffer. She is someone we count on every day and is someone who is destined for great things. Remember that name."
Melick is also enrolled in a UT course that requires her to develop her own research on a special project. “I’m researching whether the wealth in a school district has an impact for test scores for STAAR tests,” she explained.
Her immediate and extended family is encompassed with education professionals as her mother, Chrissana, is currently a journalism teacher at Waxahachie High School and her father, Clyde, worked for the district as the Waxahachie ISD assistant superintendent of facilities for three years. He is now the assistant city manager for the City of Midlothian.
Melick decided to choose a topic that fascinates her. So far she has noticed the top test scores do mostly come from wealthy districts. Melick admitted she admires educators and the opportunity to conduct a research project on a topic that she is passionate about is riveting in its own way.
Her network of professionals expands with every interaction she has. She has also gained new experiences such as on Fort Hood Day for the legislature. Melick and other girls in the office toured the base, hold the guns and sat in the tanks.
“Obviously I have huge respect for the military, but I had no idea what went on a daily basis," Melick said. "It gave me a whole new reverence for everything they do. It was awesome.”
She realized that if she would not have had done the internship, she would have never had the experience that changed her perspective.
Concluding the interview, Melick was asked a third time what she aspires career-wise after college. She then detailed her internship last summer with Refugee Services of Texas — Dallas where she worked as the social adjustments intern. Melick helped people from refugee camps adjust to American culture and assist individuals to register for government assistance.
As the 19-year-old reflected on all of her experiences she noted her current internship “has helped clarify what I want to do in the future.” She reconciled that all the positions she has served in helped others in some capacity.
“I really want to help people in any way I can,” she iterated.
Melick has a goal to graduate in 2020 with a degree in government and Spanish. She plans to earn her master’s degree in public administration to head a nonprofit and get involved with politics later in life.