Louise Bentsen

Rice College: Duncan

Degree: B.A.

Major: History

Minor: Jewish Studies

In my role as a Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), I meet with a variety of constituents and stakeholders on issues ranging from foreign affairs and defense to international trade, energy, and agriculture. As a young person in Washington, D.C., I meet ambitious, eager, and inquisitive young people on a daily basis. These encounters almost always include some degree of small talk and friendly conversation, specifically questions about my hometown or schooling. My answer often elicits great curiosity and follow-up questions about the coursework, my experience with the program, and how I use what I learned in my day-to-day. Each time that I recount my experiences in the Program in Jewish Studies at Rice, I fondly remember my Modern Hebrew classes with Dr. Luisa Kluger, visits with the Israeli Consulate, meeting former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren at the Baker Institute, Introduction to Judaism with Dr. Shira Lander, and all of my classmates and professors who welcomed me into what was then a fledgling but vibrant program focused on opening minds, experiential learning, fostering a sense of community, and encouraging intellectual curiosity. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to join a bipartisan and bicameral congressional staff delegation to Israel. For years I had dreamed of visiting Israel and seeing the sites referenced in my textbooks and class discussions and hearing the language I had spent two years learning. This was more than a dream realized. Visiting Israel sparked a renewed interest in Jewish Studies as well as a profound appreciation for Rice’s program and where it can take students like me.