Cody Willming

“I love that EPPS is small enough to allow students to really stand out, while providing incredible resources and support.”

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Major: Political Science
Expected Graduation: May 2014

UT Dallas Achievements & Activities

  • 2011 UT Dallas "Rising Star" Student Leadership Award
  • Student Government Vice President, 2011-2012
  • UT System Student Advisory Council Member, 2011-2012
  • Freshmen Residential Senate President, 2010-2011
  • Student Government "Senator of the Month" - December 2010
  • Academic Excellence Scholarship
  • Resource Center Dallas Volunteer

Deciding on Political Science

The first time politics caught my eye was in 7th grade during the 2004 presidential election. As I worked on an English project about the election, for the first time in my life I began to form my own beliefs that differed from those of my family. As I did so, I began to take an interest in current events and the world around me. One night, my dad showed me the movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." As cheesy as I thought the movie was, I deeply admired Jimmy Stewart's character and the story of an honest man standing up for what he knew was right. From then on, it became my goal to get to Washington, DC to work in the United States Congress.

Throughout my high school career, I applied several times to serve as a Congressional Page. After several rejections, my chance finally came in 2009 when I was accepted into the U.S. House Page Program. I spent a semester living and studying on Capitol Hill while working on the floor of the House of Representatives. Though I cherish many memories from that time, one in particular continues to motivate me. One late night after votes, I wandered the empty Capitol and came to the rotunda, where I looked up into the larger-than-life dome. In that moment, I was struck by how small I felt and that I was part of something much bigger than myself. That night changed my life and solidified an already strong passion for politics.

When it came to college selection, UT Dallas seemed to choose me rather than the other way around. My dream schools were either far away from Texas or inside the Capital Beltway, though I wasn't admitted to most of them, and I couldn't afford the ones I was accepted to. Then, due to a technicality with my application, I was not automatically admitted to UT Austin, so I planned to participate in the Coordinated Admissions Program (CAP) and transfer to Austin my sophomore year. I chose UT Dallas for the shallowest reason possible: it seemed to have the nicest residence hall and it was as close to being out of state as I could get. After only a few months here, however, I realized the opportunity I had to make a difference at a university that's undergoing rapid growth and change. Discovering the strong support that EPPS and the John Marshall Pre-Law Society provide was the tipping point in my decision to stay.

My EPPS Success

Having been at UT Dallas a relatively short amount of time, I'm still learning new things every day that will help me be successful. Several factors, however, have helped me to this point. I have had many professors who truly care about their students, including Dr. Denise Boots and Dr. Greg Thielemann. Additionally, talking to Dr. Anthony Champagne and Dr. Edward Harpham has helped me lay out a direction for my four years at UT Dallas and beyond. Finally, loving what I'm studying has been crucial to maintaining my motivation.

I love that EPPS is small enough to allow students to really stand out while providing incredible resources and support. The school truly cares about its reputation with its students.

Plans for the Future

I plan on applying for the Archer Fellowship Program and hopefully interning in Washington next year. After graduating, I intend on going to law school. My ideal career would be working as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill or in a state legislature. Though it would be very far down the line, my dream is to someday run for Congress.

Advice to Prospective EPPS Students

If you're interested in law school or anything public policy-related, I suggest making an appointment to talk with Dr. Champagne. He, along with many other EPPS faculty members, is a great resource for developing career goals and finding new opportunities.

Also, regardless of your major, try taking advantage of as many opportunities as you can - anything from internships to volunteer work to research. I've learned that building personal relationships is one of the most important things one can do. Connections have a way of building off of each other, and you never know what opportunities will come your way if you allow them to, especially within EPPS.

Other Interests

I'm probably too obsessed with reading the news for my own good. I try to read the Washington Post, the New York Times and Politico every day. Beyond that, I love relaxing with friends, getting outdoors and seeing my family.