Hometown: McLean, Va.
Major: English, Art History Concentration
Between her dedication to literature, her constant dialogue with the university’s English Department, and her love of art in its many forms, one might think that senior Inés Vera has no room left in her life for something like politics. However, after attending a fellowship over the summer at the Hertog Institute, politics has quickly become one of Vera’s many passions.
“Growing up in D.C., politics [is] everywhere,” Vera said. “I was really disheartened by what I saw in D.C. as a kid. In my perspective, it was all ambition-driven, all ‘who-knows-who,’ always an agenda to push; I didn’t perceive any integrity within those that I saw working in politics. So I told myself that I hated politics and dug my head in the sand and refused to engage in any kind of political dialogue.”
Even as a senior, Vera has to take the Core class, Principles of American Politics. However, her first politics class at the University of Dallas was the American Presidency class, an elective taught by Dr. Dougherty. Vera commented that had she not completed her fellowship at Hertog, she never would have elected to willfully take such a class.
“When I applied for the fellowship at Hertog, I did it because I was going to get paid to take classes– every nerd’s dream,” Vera said. “I wrote in my application the only truth I actually held about politics; essentially, I discussed the notion that things are interdisciplinary; art and literature are things I love, and politics plays a huge role. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the three, and you need one to have the other. You need politics to protect your arts and culture. That was the push that got me to apply.”
When she originally arrived at Hertog to complete her fellowship, she was still cynical about politics; however when she met the people there, her perspective was altered.
“I slowly learned that there were people out there that wanted to protect what I care about,” she said.
“I realized that the only way I can change the things that I hated is to do something. Going to Hertog was a call to action to protect the things that I felt passionate about, such as educational reform for the public school system and advocacy for a liberal arts education.”
Over the course of her two week fellowship, politics changed from a field Vera had never considered working in due to skepticism and disillusionment, into a possible career avenue.
“If you want to do something meaningful with your gifts, sometimes you have to do things you don’t necessarily like, but in the end hopefully it is rewarding,” Vera said. “It is a good reality check to deflate your ego to realize you might have been wrong; everyone needs it. Sometimes as a student, you spend so much time trying to convince the world that you’re right about certain things– especially in writing. My time at Hertog showed me that maybe politics wasn’t completely the heinous world that I had made it out to be.”