UHV students form first political science student organization

Students recently formed the University of Houston-Victoria’s first political science student organization as a way to explore their interests in law and criminal justice through activities outside the classroom.

The group, called the Association of Future Advocates, Leaders and Lawyers, received formal approval from the university on Oct. 7. The idea to create the organization came from UHV student Sarah Stanaland, who was interested in expanding extracurricular opportunities for students and is now president of the group.

Sarah Stanaland

“Many of us are interested in going to law school or entering into the criminal justice field, and there just wasn’t a lot for those students besides the degree plan,” said Stanaland, a junior from Odessa who is working on her bachelor’s degree in political science with a pre-law concentration and who plans to go to law school after graduating. “Through our organization, we’re trying to bring more law school recruiters and more presenters, and we’re trying to get UHV students connected outside in their community, both politically and socially.”

Shortly after conceiving the idea to form the group last fall, she discussed it with several of her peers, who shared her interest. She then sent an email about it to Craig Goodman, a UHV associate professor of political science. He welcomed the enthusiasm of Stanaland and the other students who showed interest in taking leadership roles.

Craig Goodman

“This is really a grassroots thing that they’ve created,” Goodman said.

After contacting Goodman, Stanaland and four students, who are now executive leaders of the group, stayed in touch over the year as they worked to obtain formal university approval. The other AFALL officers are: Candice Garza of Port Lavaca, vice president; Victoria Zamarripa of Dallas, secretary; Mourad Hasbaoui of Corpus Christi, treasurer; and Brandi Ramos of Victoria, public outreach and event coordinator.

“They’re ambitious and energetic, so I’m excited to let them run with things and see what they can accomplish,” said Goodman, who is now the group’s adviser. “They all want to make a difference in the world in different ways.”

The organization aims to organize seminars, provide resources for political science and pre-law students, strengthen the political science and pre-law program, and bring together the UHV political science community.

The group held its first general body meeting on Nov. 2, which was attended by the five leaders, Goodman and nearly a dozen other students. It also has published a newsletter and started a study group to prepare for the Law School Admission Test.

Candice Garza

“It’s just really cool to see it actually come to life now after so long,” Stanaland said.

The group’s vice president, Candice Garza, is a psychology major who intends to go to law school. She feels passionate about justice and looks forward to one day having conversations with legislators, local law enforcement officials and others about access to justice and other community and political issues.

“AFALL is for political awareness and political participation, as well as getting into your community and talking with those people who are making a difference in your community,” Garza said. “This organization is for anyone and everyone who wants to see change in our political system and the court room.”

Membership applications for the spring may be submitted through Nov. 21. Membership is open not just to political science students but to any UHV student who is or aspires to be an advocate, lawyer or leader. Those interested in applying for membership may contact the organization’s leadership at or go to to find the application and information about the organization.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.