Posted on January 4, 2021 by Amanda Cerreto

Jessica Wojda Master of Public Administration student Jessica Wojda has been accepted into the prestigious Archer Fellowship program.

If you ask Wojda, her path to the Archer Fellowship began three years ago when she first learned of the program that sends graduate students to Washington, DC to learn about policy making through a full-time professional internship and classroom experiences.

But one might say it goes back further than that, to a family vacation in DC in 2001. Wojda was immediately enthralled by the city and told her parents, "I'm going to live here one day."

Twenty years later, that declaration would prove to be true.

It wasn't an easy journey; Wojda, by nature, is very reserved and does not invite the spotlight. When she first learned of the program, she was considering applying to graduate school but wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger.

"I felt intimidated by it," Wojda explained. “I hadn't been back to school in a while.” She also wasn't sure how attending a graduate program would fit in with her current responsibilities as Associate Director of Annual Giving at UTSA.

With the encouragement of her supervisor, Director of Marketing and Communications in Alumni Programs Heather Green, and the thought of possibly becoming an Archer Fellow, she moved forward and applied to the Master of Public Administration program. “The Fellowship became my North Star-like goal,” she said.

The Graduate Archer Fellowship Program was established in 2010 by The University of Texas System as a way to bring students interested in policy and politics to our nation's capital to learn about the federal government and public service. Graduate Archer Fellows live, learn and work in the heart of Washington, D.C., during the summer. Selection is based on a competitive process, beginning with the application.

“The application process is a little bit daunting,” Wojda said. “So I really tried to take advantage of all the services that UTSA offers to students.” Wojda worked with the Career Center to not only get her application in order, but also to freshen her resume and to prepare for her interview.

Jessica Wojda “James Kennedy helped me edit all my perspectives and my statement and worked on my resume,” Wojda said. “And Mike Zucker helped so much to prepare for my interview. I had never used those services before, so it was really impressive and exciting.”

Wojda is able to take a leave of absence from her job at UTSA in order to pursue this opportunity, and, true to form, she does not intend to let any part of this experience go to waste. She has worked in philanthropy for over a decade now, and she believes the Archer Fellowship will be the catalyst to push her into the next part of her career.

Wojda is quick to give credit to her co-workers, professors, and classmates in the Public Administration program for her success. “Heather is amazing and she’s really pushed me,” she said. “She’s the one that encouraged me to apply to grad school, even though I felt like it was too soon.”

“I am very proud that Jess will represent UTSA as an Archer Fellow,” Green said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that places her among the top students in the UT System, a position she has certainly earned through her hard work and dedication to both her coursework and her professional experiences. She has a passion for learning about policy as well as building communities that I suspect will only grow as she participates in the program.”

For her part, Wojda is excited to see where this experience will take her. “I've never really considered myself a goals-driven person,” she said. “When it comes to my career, I tend to be more values-based. What I want to do with my life is leave any place I've been in better than it was when I arrived.”

— Amanda Cerreto