Mary Josie Cain Blanchard - Master's: Political Science, 1971
With an emphasis on Latin American Studies, my graduate work at the university provided me the foundation to think critically and ask questions about new issues. I had many excellent professors. The lessons in critical thinking allowed me to work in areas where I did not specifically train, but could use my analytical skills. Currently, I am Deputy Director, Environmental Policy and Compliance, Office of the Secretary of the Interior. I have had diverse opportunities in environmental management, active and abandoned surface mining and reclamation at the state and federal levels, including setting up the first permitting system in Texas for coal and uranium mining and reclamation.
The university provided an opportunity to learn about multiple cultures. UT had so many international students; it was always an enriching experience to learn about other cultures both in classes and from associating with students from other countries. For my thesis, I canvassed high school students in Costa Rica about the influences that affected their lives and attitudes. The field research course I took was especially helpful in envisioning the project, cutting the red tape to get the work accomplished, and understanding the people and the results from the study. Learning about other cultures paid off years later in implementing a government contract with the World Bank advising the Indonesian government about improving administration of their mining activities. I have also used that knowledge personally in traveling to multiple destinations including all seven continents.
The university allowed students to take courses in areas of interest other than their major. I studied flute and taught flute while in graduate school. I continue to perform, recently on the Millennium Stage in Kennedy Center and other venues, and to teach with students winning many honors (e.g., National Symphony Orchestra fellowship and the Texas All State Band).