Students in Washington DC
UTPB Falcons soar in Capitol Hill leadership journey

From West Texas to Washington and back again, the Shepperd Leadership Institute team returns from their impactful journey to Capitol Hill with eight UT Permian Basin students proudly representing their Falcon community. Together, both the Midland and Odessa Chambers of Commerce coordinate the biannual Washington, DC fly-in to provide a platform for participants to engage with industry leaders and policymakers on critical issues facing the Permian Basin region and the nation.  

The itinerary was packed with enriching sessions and dynamic discussions, offering participants a comprehensive understanding of key topics ranging from workforce development to energy policies.

dc-fly-in-photo-2.jpgThe first day’s agenda included a diverse array of panels and discussions, beginning with a workforce panel followed by sessions on border security and immigration. UT Permian Basin students actively participated in Q&A sessions with featured speakers. Remarks were given by Texas Senator John Cornyn, and later Mike Emmanuel, Chief Washington Media Correspondent. Students formerly addressed those attending by making individual introductions and speaking briefly about their journey with UTPB and their eagerness for the fly-in event. Following morning programming, the Shepperd Leadership Institute staff and students met with Congressman August Pfluger to better discuss issues such as education affordability and security measures being determined at the national level followed by a guided tour of the Capitol Building.  

The evening saw a vibrant “Party with the Permian” reception at Capitol Crossing, providing an opportunity for students to network with local community leaders, elected officials, and many notable industry leaders. This networking opportunity was invaluable for students, providing them with mentorship opportunities and expanding their professional networks. Following the evening reception, the Shepperd Leadership Institute staff and students embarked on a guided tour highlighting each monument and memorial throughout the National Mall. 

The engagement continued Wednesday, May 1 with a series of events at prominent locations such as the Library of Congress and the White House. Highlights include a bipartisan congressional panel moderated by Congressman August Pfluger followed by an opportunity for students to tour the White House.  


The fly-in concluded with a closing dinner at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, where students shared their experience from the previous days with other participants from the Permian Basin community. 

dc-fly-in-photo-3.jpgAmong the eight students participating was Brandon Lippert, who has called Washington DC home throughout this most recent semester. Lippert was selected to participate as The University of Texas Permian Basin’s student representative in the Archer Fellowship Program during the Spring 2024 term. Lippert was joined in DC by his fellow students Karla Camara, Shaelly Castro-Puertas, Minghao Liu, Zacharie Levesque, Isaiah Castelo, Luke Christensen, and Adrian Ramirez. Collectively, these students represent several student organizations and groups across the UTPB campus. 

Monica Tschauner, Executive Director of the Shepperd Leadership Institute, expressed her gratitude to all participants for their active involvement and contribution to the success of the fly-in. “This experience exemplifies the Institute’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders and fostering meaningful dialogue on issues of regional and national importance. The students experienced the power of civic engagement firsthand.” said Tschauner.  

The Shepperd Leadership Institute and the University of Texas Permian Basin look forward to future collaborations and continued engagement in initiatives that drive positive change and progress for the Permian Basin community. 

For more information about the Shepperd Leadership Institute and its initiatives, visit: