From the LBJ School to Capitol Hill: Mauliola Harley Gonsalves' Life After LBJ

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April 3, 2024
Mauliola Harley Gonzales in front of the Capitol building in Washington DC

Mauliola Harley Gonsalves, a first-generation college graduate from Pukalani, Hawai’i, has continued her commitment to public service after graduating from the LBJ School in December of 2023. As a Legislative Correspondent in DC for the senior Senator of her home state, Harley works to amplify indigenous voices and shape federal policy through collaborative problem-solving.


Mauliola Harley Gonsalves, MPAff-DC '23

Policy interests: Social policy

"As a Native Hawaiian, I recognized that indigenous peoples are often excluded from having a seat at the table. Understanding how influential policy decisions are to everyday life, I wanted to be able to equip myself to be able to bring indigenous perspective to public policy. LBJ provided the flexibility and the resources in order to pursue this path."

“As a first-generation [college] student, earning this degree is a culmination of the perseverance and sacrifice that my family have put in to create this opportunity for me.”

How was your professional and/or personal life impacted by attending the LBJ School?

The technical expertise of our professors paired with the vast alumni network have been incredible resources that have helped me in both my professional and personal life.

What was your most treasured memory from your time at the LBJ School?

There is no single treasured memory for me at LBJ, there’s too many to choose from. What I will always treasure is the experience to meet incredible individuals from across the country who all decided to call LBJ home with the hopes of becoming change makers. I am fortunate to call many of these individuals not only classmate and fellow (and future) alumni, but also lifelong friends that I know will go out into the world and continue the incredibly legacy of LBJ in the field of public policy.

Mauliola Harley Gonzales with classmates putting up a hookem hand sign

Which LBJ School faculty member(s) influenced you the most and why.

As a member of the DC cohort, I appreciate the efforts of the LBJ Washington Center faculty and staff including Bill Shute, Robin Boone, Elizabeth Rybicki, Kate Eltrich, and Dustin Brown. They truly shape the unique experience that is the DC concentration by helping to blend theory with practice.

What is one greatest skill you honed at the LBJ School that you still use?

The greatest skill I learned was synthesis. LBJ is a collaborative learning environment where there are plenty of opportunities to hear new perspectives that help to challenge the way you think. Being able to learn from faculty and peers is also matched with coursework that helps to build your problem-solving capabilities. These elements combined make for effective decision making.

What advice would you give to current students interested in policy?

I would encourage policy students to take at least one course outside of their policy focus. Sometimes people can become so siloed into their areas of interest that they block off learning opportunities that are transferable to their issue area that may help to improve their approach. Taking the time to step outside of the box can help you realize you’re really operating inside a circle.

Learn more about the Master of Public Affairs.