As president and founder of Type Texas, UT Austin’s first chapter of the College Diabetes Network, Steven Santoyo has been advocating for disability rights and awareness throughout his undergraduate career. Now as he closes in on his senior year, he has taken his advocacy work to Capitol Hill, where he is interning for U.S. Rep Marc Veasey on the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.
“I’m so excited to experience life on the hill while working for someone who shares a parallel passion,” says Santoyo, a communication studies senior. “I’m fascinated at the prospect of sitting in on hearings as an intern and getting to see what’s happening behind closed doors.”
Santoyo is one of several Explore Law graduates who have been accepted into the competitive Archer Fellowship program offered by the university. During the summer of 2017, Santoyo immersed himself in the intensive law school preparatory program (formerly named DiscoverLaw) offered by the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence.
“That summer I discovered the importance of having all my ducks in a row,” Santoyo says. “I learned that If you want something, there’s a way to get it. At a place like UT there has never been one person who has turned down my request for advice. I am who I am today because of that step forward I made in Discover Law.”
Throughout the rigorous summer course, Santoyo learned how to prep for the LSAT, deliver oral arguments before a panel of judges, and hone his legal writing skills. The greatest benefit of all, he says, was meeting Texas Law Fellow Meg Clifford, who inspired him to explore a new career trajectory.
“Meg Clifford did Teach for America before she went to law school at UT, and she planted that seed in my brain to do the same,” Santoyo says. “She has been a big supporter and I can’t wait to follow in her footsteps.”
After graduation this spring, Santoyo will complete his Teach for America training and return to his hometown of Dallas, Texas to engage students in their studies and help them discover their strengths and interests. As a first-generation male student of color, he hopes to show by example that anything is possible.
“A seventh-grade teacher once told me I could go to UT and Harvard Law,” Santoyo says. “That stuck with me my whole life. So often these students don’t hear these encouraging words enough. My best advice to them is to know yourself, ask for help and truly give it your all. I hope they remember that and think of me.”
As for the long-term future, Santoyo envisions himself back on the frontlines in DC with the goal of making a difference at the policy level.
“I see myself with a J.D. and running for office,” Santoyo adds. “What our country needs is more bipartisan people running for politics. Our country is divided in many ways, but I think only in America, you can have an incredible story and be a source of inspiration.”
Explore Law one of several career-prep programs in the center’s College to Career initiative. Visit this website for more information.
Santoyo’s programs and activities also include: Pre-Grad Intern, Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program; Senior Fellow, Moody College of Communication; Resident Assistant, Division of Housing and Food Services; Tour Guide, Office of Admissions; Communication Council; UT Student Government. Read more about his disability awareness advocacy work.