The Graduating Class of 2019: Jaclyn Le | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin
What is your favorite memory from your time at the LBJ School?
LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le (MPAff '19) with her friends at the Texas Tribune Festival
LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le (MPAff '19) with friends at the Texas Tribune Festival.
(Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Le)


I have attended the Texas Tribune Festival over the last three years thanks to the support of the LBJ School. I participated on the school's social media/engagement teams every year, and it was a wonderful way to connect with my classmates and the broader audience at TribFest. Funnily, I had the opportunity to join The Texas Tribune board in 2018 as a board fellow through the McCombs Board Fellows program. I am excited to return to TribFest in the future and to continue to be a part of the LBJ crew at TribFest each year.


I took Charlee Garden's "Leadership Lab" course in spring 2017. The class creates an authentic learning community for students to increase their self-awareness and to examine their assumptions, biases and patterns. Charlee is one of the best professors I've ever worked with and has become a trusted adviser and mentor to me over the years. I ended up TA'ing a new course that she taught this semester (spring 2019) called "Consulting for Social Impact." Working with Charlee to design that course was one of the most creative and fulfilling experiences that I had at LBJ.

LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le and her teammates during the Deloitte case competition
Le and her teammates during the Deloitte case competition. (Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Le)


There are so many other great memories, but I think some of the ones that I will stick with me are centered around getting to know my classmates. As a dual degree student, I've had the privilege of meeting people across both programs from all walks of life. Some of the seemingly minor, but lasting memories that stand out at LBJ include: staying up most of the night to work on the Deloitte case competition assignment with my friends, hopping around all the coffee shops in Austin to finish a final project with my teammate, traveling across the world with close friends that I made at LBJ.

What is the most unexpected thing that happened to you during your time at LBJ?
LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le (MPAff '19) with friends
 


I was surprised by the depth of camaraderie and support within the LBJ community. All graduate programs talk about the strength of their alumni network, but the LBJ network is truly impressive in how far-reaching it is and how connected alumni are to each other. There were numerous times when I reached out to an alum for an informational coffee meeting or met an alum through different jobs and internships. No one ever said no to a meeting, and many went above and beyond to support my career. Before I even committed to the LBJ School, I talked to several alumni who were very willing to give their time to help me understand the program.


"I learned of the organization where I'll be working after graduation through an LBJ alum. This program instills a sense of community and a 'pay it forward' mentality in its graduates that lasts long after graduation." — Jaclyn Le

During the program, I met an LBJ alumna for coffee chat and ended up interning for her (and several other LBJ alums) at Educate Texas for two and half years. Finally, I learned of the organization where I'll be working after graduation through an LBJ alum. This program instills a sense of community and a "pay it forward" mentality in its graduates that lasts long after graduation. What's amazing is that most people in this community are tied together by an innate desire to serve those who have been left behind, to improve communities and to build a more equitable, just and sustainable world for all.

 

Tell us about your next steps.
LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le at her internship
 


I am joining TIP Strategies, an economic development consulting and advisory firm that works with public and private sector clients on strategic planning, talent strategies and organizational development. My role as a consultant is to help clients develop innovative strategies, programs, and outreach campaigns to improve economic growth and quality of place in their communities.

What is your advice to the incoming class?

There can be few moments or chapters in your life where you can engage in extensive self-reflection and self-improvement. I think going to graduate school is a rare opportunity to look at yourself and ask key questions: Who am I? What do I want to do? What am I passionate about? How do I want to have an impact on the world? If you don't know the answers, then take this chance to explore and test out new ideas.


"I think going to graduate school is a rare opportunity to look at yourself and ask key questions: Who am I? What do I want to do? What am I passionate about? How do I want to have an impact on the world? If you don’t know the answers, then take this chance to explore and test out new ideas."

Understand your shortcomings as a leader and intentionally work to improve those skills, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Meet and work with people that you may have never had a chance to know before. In some ways, you have an opportunity to remake yourself during your years at LBJ, with endless resources and support to help you do so. It would be a waste to take the path of least resistance here. Don't do the things you think you should do — do what you're excited about and what will help you to grow. Push yourself to do more and be uncomfortable — you'll change in ways you can't even begin to imagine when you’re at the beginning of this journey.

What else would you like us to know about you?
LBJ dual degree student Jaclyn Le (MPAff '19)
 


My parents were refugees who came to the United States during the Vietnam War. I don't think that they could have imagined that their only daughter would not only be the first person in the family to go to college but also graduate with two master's degrees. My dad was always my biggest supporter and encouraged me to pursue higher education. He passed away exactly five years ago, and I know that graduation day will feel very bittersweet without him there.


"I would not be here were it not for the endless sacrifices that my parents made so that I could have a better life than they did. My time at LBJ has affirmed my understanding that we are all products of choices made by those who came before us, the belief and support that people give us along the way, and many serendipitous moments in life."

I would not be here were it not for the endless sacrifices that my parents made so that I could have a better life than they did. My time at LBJ has affirmed my understanding that we are all products of choices made by those who came before us, the belief and support that people give us along the way, and many serendipitous moments in life. I am very privileged to not only have my parents but also a village of friends, mentors and supporters that I have picked up across all the different chapters of my life, including my time at the LBJ School.