Two WT McNair Scholars Awarded Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellowships

Chip Chandler Jun 22, 2022
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Two WT McNair Scholars Awarded Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellowships

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,



CANYON, Texas — Two West Texas A&M University graduates are among a handful of young Latino leaders from across the nation picked for paid internships in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Galdamez, a 2017 WT graduate, and Madeline Kleinschmidt, a 2022 WT graduate, are among 26 chosen for the 2022 cohort of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Their appointments will run from August through May. They were selected from a field of 300 applicants.

“We are exceptionally proud of Michelle and Madeline, and it speaks to the level of academic rigor WT provides its students that two of our program’s alumni were selected for the institute,” said Victoria Salas, director of WT’s McNair Scholars program. “Both students will be empowered to make effective changes through civic engagement in their future careers as a result of their CHCI internships.”

CHCI provides leadership, public service and policy experiences to outstanding Latino students and young professional. In addition to fellowship placements in D.C., where they earn competitive salaries, those selected for the institute also meet with members of Congress and other public officials, corporate executives, nonprofit advocates and thought leaders to discuss issues facing the nation and the Hispanic community.

Galdamez graduated with a dual master's in public health and public administration from Texas Tech University in May, following her bachelor’s in health sciences at WT in 2017. An El Salvador native who now lives in Lubbock, Galdamez was awarded CHCI’s graduate fellowship, designed for emerging Latino leaders who want to pursue a specific area of public policy.

Galdamez plans to work in health policy for her internship.

“My time as a McNair scholar marks the beginning of my journey advocating for a positive impact in the health status of all Latino communities,” Galdamez said. “I’m excited to contribute my shared experiences as a first-gen immigrant Latina and continue advocating for equitable health access.”

Kleinschimdt, a native of Kenai, Alaska, who earned a bachelor’s in international business, was awarded the CHCI Bank of America Public Policy Fellowship. Her cohort will explore public policy by working directly on Capitol Hill with D.C.-based organizations advancing public policy issues. Kleinschmidt was selected based on commitment to leadership, interest in civic engagement and a desire to give back to her community, Salas said.

“This internship will provide me with an extraordinary level of professional experience and leadership skills,” Kleinschmidt said. “I look forward to taking part in the legislative process and understanding its unique role in implementing foreign policy.”

Participants work Mondays through Thursdays learning all aspects of public policy and working on projects to advance issues. Fridays are designated for leadership building under CHCI’s four Pillars of Leadership: Civic Engagement, Social Responsibility, Self-Empowerment, and Promoting Community and Hispanic Culture.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, also known as the McNair Scholars Program, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The program is named after Dr. Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to fly in space. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle Mission in 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the McNair Scholars Program.

This year’s CHCI cohort represents 24 academic institutions in 15 states and Puerto Rico. Half of them are first-generation college students, half of them grew up in low-income homes, and 42 percent are Latinos in STEM fields.

WT’s efforts to build undergraduate academic excellence, as demonstrated through Galdamez and Kleinschmidt, is a key maxim of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised about $110 million.




About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.