Spotlight On: Shane Stephens-Romero
How does a Native-born Upstate New Yorker with a passion for energy and the environment end up in the White House? Just ask Shane Stephens Romero - a recent UCI graduate who completed his doctoral studies in Environmental Engineering this past June. In the fall of 2010, Shane was one of a select group of young men and woman from across the country who participated in the prestigious and highly competitive White House Internship Program. The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities.
“Serving as an intern in the White House afforded me opportunities that helped me gain a comprehensive understanding of the importance of policy and an understanding of elements that go into shaping different areas of national policy,” Stephens said.
As a graduate student at UCI, Shane participated in the Advanced Power and Energy Program where he focused on hydrogen as a transportation fuel. He worked closely with Professor Scott Samuelsen and others to develop a novel methodology to assess the impacts of hydrogen infrastructure deployment in society. He received a UCI 2009 Public Impact Fellowship for his STREET planning tool, which foresees the effects of alternative transportation fuels. Shane’s four-month internship in the White House helped to fuel his interest in the important role that policy plays in advancing power and energy systems. “No matter which sector of the energy field I am working in, I will always try to maintain a high level of involvement in the policy realm,” he stated.
“I became very knowledgeable on matters involving advanced power and energy. I think when you work with so many other experts in your field like I do at the Advanced Power and Energy program at UCI it is easy to lose perspective on how much depth and understanding you are gaining. Stepping outside of the educational environment and into a broader context, as I did for this internship, was very eye opening with respect to how well I can navigate issues related to advanced power and energy. Of course, another thing I realized is that there is always a lot more to learn.”
For Shane one of the biggest realizations was the fact that many of the skills he developed as a doctoral student were valuable in other areas. “While much of the policy work I was involved in during my internship focused on advanced power and energy issues, a good portion of it focused on areas where I had little background knowledge. But because of my training throughout my Ph.D. studies I was able to adapt, learn and effectively conduct research in other policy areas.”
And what advice would he offer to students who are thinking of applying for a White House Internship?
“I would encourage more UCI students to have this unique learning experience at the center of national activity. Communicate with the UCI government relations team and with the University of California, Washington DC (UC-DC) office before, during, and after the application process. They are a great resource and can provide a lot of guidance both with respect to the application process, and in preparation for and during your stay in Washington, DC.”