Gone to LBJ: Meet some of the newest members of the LBJ School | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Congratulations! You’re among the LBJ School’s entering class of 2017 and The University of Texas at Austin, an iconic, world-renowned institution.

You’ve chosen to build your future on our legacy of bold, fearless action. Make every day count, because you are about to change the world. Read about a few members of your entering class, or tell us your story!

Ryan Carlino, Social Justice Advocate

Hometown: Pueblo, Colorado
Undergraduate Degree: B.A., Anthropology, Grinnell College '10
Pursuing at LBJ: Master of Public Affairs degree
Policy Area of Interest: Drug policy and criminal justice reform, healthcare and environmental justice

"I moved to the idyllic cornfields of Iowa to attend Grinnell College as a first-generation college student ... then moved to New York City to work as an AmeriCorps fellow at a large nonprofit organization. I continued to work at a couple of different large nonprofit organizations that focus on advocacy and policy issues facing various LGBT populations. After the ACLU, I changed gears and entered the startup tech space, which brought me to Austin." —Ryan Carlino

Why LBJ? I chose LBJ because of the academic strength and rigor of the program, the faculty, LBJ’s location in Austin, its affordability and its national recognition as a public policy powerhouse. Since LBJ is housed within a large research institution like UT, I can take advantage of myriad resources and opportunities to expand my learning outside of LBJ.”

Why Public Policy? Public policy fascinates me because its formation and implementation is inextricably entwined with real experiences, communities and lives. I aspire to earn an MPAff because I want to learn how to strategically use policy to dismantle systems of injustice and discrimination."

Life in Austin: As the capitol of Texas, Austin offers LBJ students hundreds of opportunities to gain first-hand experience with state and federal government offices. Additionally, Austin’s progressive city government offers students the chance to be involved with major local policy initiatives that are not yet implemented on state or federal levels. Beyond policy and politics, Austin is a wonderful city, and the plentiful tacos will certainly nourish my academic pursuits.”

What Starts Here: “My hope is to be part of a generation of public policy leaders who use their diverse experiences and backgrounds to shape progressive, equitable policy solutions.”

Christina Dunigan, Community Builder

Hometown: Houston, Texas
Before LBJ: University of Texas alumna, elementary school teacher
Pursuing at LBJ: Master of Public Affairs degree

On Being a Teacher: "Teaching became this way for me to get to know the hopes, dreams, needs and wants of my community. Teachers are community builders, at the crux of so many socio-political issues. I quickly learned that the education system is not configured to meet the unique needs of my diverse community; it’s not configured to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing community.  I began to organize teachers, community members, and parents in my school community, creating space for their voices. This organizing, this activism, brought me the most joy as a teacher and led me to the LBJ School.” 

"I want to make a difference and I want to surround myself with peers and mentors who are trying to do the same thing." —Christina Dunigan

Why LBJ? “I chose the LBJ School because I want to have access to professors that are genuinely interested in helping me achieve my goals. The caliber of students at LBJ ensures that I will be amongst future leaders in every policy field. Plus, I love the spirit of collaboration that the LBJ School is known for—and I pray it speaks towards a changing ideology in lawmaking.”  

What Starts Here: “I want to have the skills to take a meaningful stand against an education system that fails economically disadvantaged students and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”

Carlos Hornedo, National Security Enthusiast

Hometown: Laredo, Texas
Pursuing at LBJ: Master of Global Policy Studies, ROTC
Policy Area of Interest: National security and intelligence

Background: I graduated from Texas A&M in May 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science, a minor in history, and graduate certificate in advanced international affairs. I spent last fall in Washington, D.C. where I was a part of the Koch Internship Program at the Charles Koch Institute. I was offered a position in January as a Legislative Aide at McWilliams Governmental Affairs Consultants. At the beginning of June, I left for Ft. Knox, Kentucky for a five-week training for the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.” 

Why LBJ? Choosing the LBJ School was easy. Waiting for an acceptance letter was the hard part. I wanted to come to the LBJ School to receive a top-notch education at a great value.”

“I am most looking forward to learning from professors that have valuable experience behind them and the expertise to help build our foundation as young professionals in the field of public policy.” —Carlos Hornedo

Why Public Policy? It is a pivotal time to get involved in the field given the current state of politics. For far too long, we have allowed politics to obstruct producing meaningful policy that truly improves the lives of all Americans without any ideological constraint.”

What Starts Here: "I'm committed to making a difference in people's lives by ensuring their liberties granted by the constitution are protected and by creating innovative solutions to complex issues in our society."

Corey Toland, Dedicated to Public Health

Hometown: McKinney, Texas

Background: “I was born and raised in Texas, but I’ve always had a penchant for travel. Ironically enough, I started my application to LBJ while traveling through Vietnam—editing my personal statement on buses and emailing references during layovers. Since returning to Austin, I’ve begun working at a local non-profit.” 

On Pursuing a Dual Degree: My interests in the social determinants of health and public policy are highlighted by the flexibility of the MPAff/Master of Public Health program. The ability to mix sociology with practical experience really drew my attention to this degree, whereas most other programs forced me to choose one or the other.”  

"I think that the LBJ School does a great job of promoting an intersectional curriculum that emphasizes working together to overcome common problems." —Corey Toland

Why Public Policy? “I’m interested in this field because my gender identity is at odds with a culture that has normalized discrimination through public policy."

What Starts Here: I want to impact the world by empowering communities to regain agency of their own unique identities. I believe that advocacy happens when those at the bottom have their voices heard by those at the top, and my only hope is to become a conduit of that change.”