Veronica Vargas Stidvent
Class of 1996
A native of El Paso, Veronica "Ronnye" Vargas Stidvent was a Plan II Honors and American Studies major at UT. She was involved in a number of extracurricular pursuits, serving as associate editor of The Daily Texan, president of the Orange Jackets service organization, and as a member of the Liberal Arts Council. She was recognized by the Cactus yearbook as an Outstanding Student and awarded the President's Leadership Award by the Texas Exes. Upon completion of her degree she was honored by the College of Liberal Arts as a Dean's Distinguished Graduate.
After earning her law degree at Yale, Ronnye served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Sidney Fitzwater, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. She spent a number of years in public service, and in 2004 was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor. There she provided advice and counsel to the secretary of labor on issues that affect the American worker, including immigration reform, worker health and safety, and job training.
Prior to her appointment as assistant secretary, Ronnye served in the White House as special assistant to the president for policy. She helped develop policy on a wide range of issue areas, including labor, education, justice, homeland security, and regulatory reform. Before that, she served as a policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, where she helped shape federal regulatory policy. Ronnye is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council for Indiana University's School of Public Affairs. She also sits on the board of directors for The Texas Tribune and has served on the Travis County Elections Study Group. In 2006 the National Association of Hispanic Publishers honored her as a Latina Role Model. In 2009 she was appointed to a six-year term on the Texas Commission on Human Rights.
Ronnye has "come home" to the University, where she is the director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She served as a member of the University's Commission of 125, a group of citizens convened to express a vision of how UT can best serve Texas and society during the next 25 years. At the Ex-Students Association she serves on the board of the Texas Exes Scholarship Foundation, is an at-large representative to the Texas Exes Council, and chairs the Exes' Hispanic Alumni Steering Committee.
She credits the Dedman Distinguished Scholars program for providing a "wealth of educational opportunities that shaped the most formative years of my life" and for instilling in her and her classmates an appreciation for the importance of "giving back to the University, our communities, and our country."