Media Highlights

Creating Opportunity in Texas

by Tamara Keeney   •  

Philip Tryon, an Opportunity Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, has spent the last several months learning about the legislative process in his homestate of Texas, through his advocacy of a bill that supports high-quality workforce training for Texas high school students.

Philip recognized that the push to improve and expand career and technical programs would help keep more students engaged in school and give them valuable skills that could help them get good jobs.  Connecting youth to school and work is major focus of Opportunity Nation’s Shared Plan to expand “multiple pathways” to success for young people ages 16 to 24.

Philip consulted with Opportunity Nation to learn more about the issue. He visited the Texas Capitol more than once before he was able to meet with the chief of staff of the state representative who had drafted the bill. During that meeting, Philip learned the workforce training initiative was likely to be added to another bill that had more of a chance of passing.

While Philip was disappointed he couldn’t lobby for the initial bill, the Texas House of Representatives ended up passing House Bill 5 in March, which included a provision to expand career and technical programs. The Texas Senate must also approve the bill before it becomes law.

“The lessons I learned about advocating on a state level are to show up early and be present,” Philip says, “or as we say at UT, ‘come early, be loud and stay late.’ ”

Click here to read more about House Bill 5.

About Opportunity Leader Philip Tryon:

Philip Tryon, 23, is a native of Midlothian, Texas. His mother is African-American and his father is white. He credits his family with giving him a strong foundation when he was growing up.

“I would not be nearly as successful as I am if it had not been for the numerous opportunities provided to me by my parents, friends, mentors, and my university,” Philip said. “I believe everyone should be provided the same opportunity that was provided to me, so I have to act to make that possible.  A person’s life should not be determined by where he/she is born.”

Philip is a majoring in philosophy and international relations. He studied in Germany, researched human rights in Australia and assisted in humanitarian work in Haiti.

Philip was introduced to Opportunity Nation through his work with our coalition partner, World Vision, where he interned with their advocacy and government relation’s team. As an Opportunity Scholar, he visits different businesses and organizations to create internships for high school students in Austin. He was selected in 2012 as an Archer Fellow, a student leadership internship named for former Texas Congressman Bill Archer. 

Philip plans to apply to Officer Candidates School and become a Marine officer. He also wants to attend law school and work in policy and politics.

Tamara Keeney

Writer, Opportunity Nation

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