Tuesday April 29th


The Role of Public Education

It’s Your Fault My Child’s Fat / Ashley Parambil

A Tale of Two Students / Kanavis Alston


Gun Regulation and Public Safety

Our Country’s Broken Security System / Karen Abanto

Gun­Free Zones: Do they Help or Hinder Safety at School? / John Dunnam


New Technologies

Impact of Communication and Media Technology / Jose Ramirez

Our Connected World / Sean Kirmani


Thursday May 1st


The Changing Environment

Petroleum and Water Use / John Fuentes

Sustainable Energy / Diego Benitez


Public Health

A Legacy of Excellence / Regina Valero

A Bold Look into the Benefit of Stem Cell Research / Grace Choi

Beating the Depression / Raj Panesar

A Concussion Discussion / Eric Davis

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A Letter to the President

Dear President and Obama Administration,


As a concern citizen of the United States it has been brought to my attention the lack of dialogue and desire to fix our crucial problem of sustainable energy. In this letter I want to bring up the important matter to have my nation energy-prepared for the centuries to come. This country needs to stop relying on non-renewable energy. As a country who consumes massive amounts of coal, electricity and etc in the world, I believe our government should take a greater interest to prepare a better future for our society. I took the liberty to publish my concern as a petition on your website in order to raise awareness. I made the right choice to voice my opinion on the petition webpage and many young Americans will agree with my standpoint because it directly involves us. This is the best place to publish because President Obama values the voices of the people. When my petition reaches the goal of 100,000 signatures I trust my government will respond.


This appeal to promote a more energy sustainable society will definitely appeal to your Administration and to the majority of the Democratic party. This appeal has in mind the entire well being of the nation and it is a great way to improve the economy. Approaching the Republican party would be futile since funding for sustainable energy sources like renewable and nuclear is considered unthinkable. If we start discouraging Americans from using non-renewable sources like oil and gas I am certain the Republican Party will fight us grudgingly. They are too deeply connected to big name companies in favor of non-renewable energy. You are my only hope in this battle of the energy crisis.


In this energy crisis our nation should move toward a dependence on nuclear energy power. Before I am called a direct threat to national security I can assure you I am not promoting the development of nuclear weapons. I am not a Communist. I am a college student who is dreaming of a new US where we everything will be power by one of the most proficient energy sources available: nuclear energy. I favor nuclear because it can create the energy to feed our energy appetite, its clean and it is one of the safest energy sources since it has taken the fewest lives. There are horror stories of nuclear energy plants taking many lives but those are all exaggerations if we compare them to the real numbers. Personally I want to live in a society that will avoid returning to the stone age because at the rate we are consuming energy we will be left with nothing to sustain ourselves.

I trust the future of this great nation in your hands.



Diego Benitez


Diego Benitez is currently a student from University of Texas at Austin.


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  1. The most appropriate destination for my letter concerning equality within the U.S. public education system would have to be the White House. Possibly in the form of a petition.
  2. Beyond that, the target audience most suitable for my message would have to be congressmen/lawmakers from both the democratic and republican parties jointly. Who serves as a better reader than those who dictate the direction of the country?
  3. My position relative to this controversy is based heavily on my own educational background and life experiences. I believe that the economic infrastructure of the country directly influences education and that the gap between class must be narrowed in order to address the issue. Having moved around a bit during my early years, thanks to sports, I attended one of the top 10 high schools in the Texas after transferring from a low-income and lesser positioned institution. As a result, I immediately noticed how class and race took part in the matter thus my analysis of the topic.


Currently, the disparity in income and social status within our society is a major point of concern. For instance, a viewer need only switch to CNN or NBC for a few minutes in order to catch the latest on the matter. Though, while a hot topic, lawmakers from all sides of the political spectrum fail to make the connection between class and life chances due to this idea of working towards the “American Dream”.   While I do feel that an individual should work hard in order to better position themselves within society rather than rely on handouts (ie excessive government aid), at the same time I feel that the economic system is in dire need of attention. It’s no secret, today it seems that as the rich are getting richer, middle-class standing is en route to becoming a thing of yesterday leaving the lower class susceptible to much inflation. Now image yourself as an Olympic runner, you’ve worked just as hard if not harder than the competition and you’re anxious for that big day. The moment is finally here and you’re giving it your all, yet, it seems that no matter how well you’re doing the track continues to expand as you’re bombarded with hurdle after hurdle. On the other hand, your competition’s success rate relies only on their endurance and preparation, as expected. While both parties seek the same gold, one’s results will be higher due to an easier path while the other falls victim to circumstance. While grateful for where I am today given my work ethic and obstacles overcome, because I was exposed to better teaching and more resources than my counterparts who worked just as hard, my body of work is weighed more due to the fact that I went to this school rather than that one. Likewise while we may have graduated with the same GPA and credentials, I am better prepared for the road ahead due to this exposure.Therefore, an individuals status in life isn’t necessarily a direct result of their work ethic, rather the outcome granted by their life chances. In addressing this matter, I say level the playing field economically.


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Letter to Senator John Cornyn.

  1. It would be most effective for my letter to either be emailed directly to my representative  or to the house of representatives as a whole where my audience works.
  2. I decided I would target a senator that represents me. Texas has two elected senators yet I am specifically targeting Senator John Cornyn. Cornyn has represented Texas a lot more than his more “sensational” colleague (Ted Cruz) so his chances of staying in the Senate are much more likely. He has already been reelected by Texans 3 times whereas Ted Cruz is already making waves on his first term as Senator. Also, Senior Sen. J Cornyn is the senate minority whip. The difficulty in convincing Cornyn is introducing myself in a way that does not turn off my reader, as Cornyn and I have stark differences in gun reform ideas.
    Sen. John Cornyn is a hard Texas republican that has an A rating from the NRA. He has voted many times for pro-gun bills. He would probably be hostile to my current view on gun reform. I intend to use a neutral introduction followed by bringing up questions that I would like an answer to (hopefully to aid in my essay 3 research).  I believe that even if he doesn’t believe in my view my inquisitive conclusion will elicit a response that would lead to Cornyn spending time thinking about.
  1. I will admit that my position on this controversy was pro-gun reform on the national level despite not knowing much about it. But as I have researched more into the subject I have become a little hesitant in where I lay. I still believe I am for a more restrictive gun reform yet I will ask the Senator to hopefully explain some things to me at the end in hopes that even if he doesn’t believe in my view he can bring up sufficient evidence that could possibly sway my opinion.
    I am an independent. I decided on this on the grounds that I don’t believe I know enough about politics to commit to the ideas of one side although usually I agree with more democratic views than republican. I will tell Cornyn that I am an independent so maybe he will be a bit more open to responding rather than saying I was a stark democrat. I will also add in the fact that I am a student at the University of Texas at Austin. It is a known fact that many young adults change their views in college so I think that will aid in my letter to John Cornyn and hopefully a response.


I will submit my short letter to Senator Cornyn via the link below


Senator John Cornyn,

My name is Karen Abanto and I am a 2nd year engineering student at the University of Texas in Austin, the city we both call home. I believe myself to be an independent. I also admit, just as any other college student, I am going through a time where I’m being bombarded with ideals and views that I have never considered before. I know that you, Senator Cornyn, are quite against the restriction of guns. I also know you are for another facet of prevention, mental health reform.

I have done some research on the subject and I believe that many democratic gun reform ideas make sense to me. I believe in your stance mental health as an important facet of getting madmen off our streets. What I do not understand is why you don’t believe in background checks or magazine limitations. I understand that you are not for the restriction of guns, specifically classified “assault weapons” but to oppose small obstacles any well intentioned gun owner could pass/work with has stumped me. I have listened to many ideas of your party has on the restriction of magazines or background checks. A reoccurring justification I hear is that it isn’t effective. I ask you Senator, why not? I believe that gun reform shouldn’t be a one policy for all issue. If one restriction isn’t able to stand on its own, couldn’t a multitude of policies lead to larger effect?

I wonder why any senator, not just yourself, would be against a policy that restricts people that could not pass a background check to own a gun. Its effectiveness may be minimal now, but with BC reform a more cooperative measure between FBI and gun sellers could make it more effective. Also along with magazine restictions, I wonder why anyone would be against the restriction of civilian firearms reloading. Senator Cornyn, I am a Texan who believes that Texans are strong willed people who do not back down from a threat when made against our own.  That being said, I wonder why any person using a gun in good faith would need a high capacity firearm magazine.

I understand that with every issue there are many caveats that could sway some instead of others. I hope this letter reaches you in good faith and at a time where you or your office could respond to me and my doubts in your claims to hopefully shed light on a new perspective. I intend on voting in the next election in 2015 and I hope to be informed about the people representing me. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about gun restrictions as well as background checks and magazine restrictions, all issues that I do not have  a steadfast opinion on already.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Karen Abanto
UT Austin Student

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Wasting Water? Yeah Right

1) It would be most effective for me to publish my letter on CNN or any countrywide news company to get my word out.  Also on magazines such as the Oil & Gas Journal.

2) My direct audience would be the activists who fight against the petroleum industry claiming it harms the environment more than any other industry. My indirect audience are those who are neutral (or any citizen who just wants to know a little about water usage) about the issue that way I am able to convince them to become pro-drilling due to the facts I have provided.

3)My position relative to the controversy is for drilling. Many believe that the petroleum industry uses so much freshwater and this is what is impacting our freshwater reduction over the years. This is false, the industry has been working hard to use as little water as possible and have even created machines that recycle the water on site.


The petroleum industry has been booming in the past few years and also has the activists against it, many claiming that during the process we spend so much water. Yes we do use about five million gallons of water for fracing one single well. Sounds like a lot right? Of course it is this is why these activists fight it. But when compared to the water usage of the United States, we actually do not affect Mother Nature related to the other uses. Oil, gas and mining uses about one percent of all the water usage in the country. More than 50% of this usage goes to irrigation and thermoelectric power. Our usage on one drilling site equals to that of seven minutes of the usage of water in New York City or the production of 2000 pairs of blue jeans or even 16 days of irrigation of one golf course. So look at the big picture. Think about that next time you water your grass to keep it greener than your neighbors’, or go shopping for a new pair of blue jeans that you “need” for a Saturday night.


Note: John Fuentes is a second year college student at the University of Texas at Austin studying Petroleum Engineering. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico and grew up in Houston, Texas.

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The United States is one of the few developed countries that do not have a healthcare system.  According to Business Insider, France, Germany, Denmark and even Cost Rica and Chile have better health care system. Therefore, I believe that it is very important that the whole country get on board the new health care policies set in place by the Obama administration. The whole country is aware that a change is necessary. Health insurance is extremely expensive and it is difficult to get if you are constantly ill. Hence, when the government sets its own health care system, this type of injustice will decrease.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been controversial because it has some disadvantages such as the restricted doctors and clinics where the insurance is covered. Nevertheless, the ACA will have an overall positive effect. It will enable everyone to have health care. Thus, if someone gets severely sick or just have a cold it would not implicate be a huge financial challenge to get healthy. As the government gains more experience in healthcare system, the shortcoming could be eventually corrected.

 Regina Valero is a student majoring in biology/pre-med at the University of Texas at Austin. 

  1. My letter would probably be more effective in a conservative/ Republican newspaper or magazine to make the readers open their mind to the positive side of the health care system.
  2. The audience that I would be targeting is conservative/republican people to introduce the positive effects that the new healthcare system. Since the audience would have a different view on the controversy, I addressed some problems with the ACA to be sympathetic, but then expressed that overall effect will be for the common good in order to change their minds.
  3. I believe that there should be some type of health care system. Everyone should have the right to be healthy and not have to pay a fortune. I am a biology/ pre-med student, and if I become a doctor I would not want the patient that is gravely ill to worry about how much he is going to pay instead of his health.





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Letter to the editor

  1. I would publish this letter to a news media like CNN, CBS, or NBC because it would go to adults that might be parents or people that uses social media a lot.  
  2. The audience for this letter are parents and people who uses or have doubts about social media .  It changes my rhetorical strategies and arguments by trying to give points that are compelling, reasonable, and relative to the reader. Also I have to sympathize with the reader.
  3. My position is going for social media in that it can be good and not totally bad. My personal investments that i have in this issue is that I also use social media. I will make this noticeable to audience by including a personal anecdote. 

Dear Reader,

I am Jose Ramirez. I am 19 years old and I’m an undergraduate student studying at the University of Texas at Austin.   I use facebook often to connect with friends and to keep in touch with the world. I am a user of social media and I say that using social media has benefits and is not completely bad to use .Recently, I have not thought about it much until I read a paper on CNN about social media. Supposedly, social media can be considered a good thing for people and not just be used to procrastinate(yeah, almost everybody does it, don’t lie).  Social media is used in everyday life to connect with people and update people with what has been happening in our lives. Social media can be used to actually encourage people to be social and more open minded. Social media can be used to give people people more self esteem and courage. There has been research were shy people started using social media began to be more social. Also there has been research in were people who used social media were had more self esteem and had a more positive outlook on life. 

Overall, social media is good and that social media can be used to improve people’s lives. 


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