Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Student spotlight: Chris Stewart

Courtesy of Chris Stewart

Meet a Roadrunner who’s making moves in local politics


Interview conducted by Caroline Traylor


When did you graduate from UTSA? What was your major? Were you involved in any student organizations?


I graduated from UTSA in December 2015, just a few months before starting my current job. I was lucky enough to be involved in some great student organizations. I was Executive Senator of the SGA, involved in the Public Administration Student Organization, MOVE UTSA and FTK Dance Marathon for a little while there. I definitely had the opportunity to be a part of some of the best student organizations on campus, and I’m sure there are some that I’m forgetting.

What have you been up to since graduating? What is it like working in local politics?


Well, three months after graduating I got my current job as Chief of Staff to City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who represents UTSA. He’s such a big supporter of the university, it’s cool to get to work on behalf of my alma mater in a professional environment. Local politics are interesting because in Texas they’re supposed to be non-partisan. So we try to get things done without thinking about partisan hang-ups, which is very different from other levels of government. And most of the things we work on are the basics of people’s lives. Streets, sidewalks, public transit, police and fire. It’s a cool level of politics to work on because we have an impact on what regular people see day to day.

Did you have mentors during your time at UTSA? Who are they? What did they say or do that made an impact?


I had several mentors in my time at UTSA, but the one that really stands out is Dr. Ann Eisenberg. As the Associate Dean of the Honors College, she pushed me towards some really important experiences in my life. In particular, she helped me to apply for the Archer Fellowship program, something I’d recommend for any student involved in politics and policy. Dr. Eisenberg has such incredible knowledge of UTSA and truly had a desire to make sure that my student experience was unique and suited for me. I can’t begin to thank her.

How did your time at UTSA prepare you for challenges (career, or otherwise) you’ve faced since graduating?


UTSA gave me an incredible network locally. I still work with former professors and people I met in classes every day. Mayor Ivy Taylor was one of my professors. That’s one of the things that I think makes UTSA and San Antonio unique. San Antonio is such a small town in some ways, but when you form a tight-knit network you can get a lot done. So that’s one of the ways I think UTSA prepared me for the challenges I am facing in my career and otherwise. It gave me a great network.

What are your aspirations for the future?


I was born and raised in San Antonio. I’ve been involved in local politics because I love this city and there are so many big challenges I want to help fix. We have low rates of social mobility and low rates of civic engagement. But San Antonio is made up of fundamentally decent, hard-working people, and I think we are a city with so much potential. I want to make a difference in my city. I don’t know what that looks like—from the public, private, or non-profit sector—but I think no matter where I go, I’ll always come back to my home city and aspire to help lift it up. Other than that, I kind of want to open up a restaurant/ karaoke bar some day.

What advice do you have for the class of 2016? What are some ways they can prepare for entering the workforce?


My best advice would be to throw yourself into whatever you’re doing. What I mean by that is, do whatever you’re doing to the fullest extent that you can do it. You never know what benefit you’re going to get out of an experience, so no matter what it is that you like to do, do it full out. You will only get out of something what you put into it, so invest your time. Invest your heart. Invest your whole self in whatever it is that you’re doing, and it will serve you better over the long term.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

Elmo is the only non-human to have testified before Congress.


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