Skip to main content

Honors Program Alumni Spotlight: Jason Turcios

The UHP interviews Class of 2023 Alum and Public Policy Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Jason Turcios.

Jason Turcios, Public Policy Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) in Washington D.C., stands with the Washington Monument in the background
Jason Turcios, Public Policy Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) in Washington D.C., stands with the Washington Monument in the background

In 2017, I vividly remember standing in front of the Capitol steps with my grandparents, and I remember telling them that one day I would come not as a visitor, but as someone with a role in government. Someone with a purpose.”

These are the words of NC State and University Honors Program Alum, Jason Turcios. Turcios is the son of Honduran immigrants, a first-generation American with a dream of creating positive and lasting change for his country. 

After graduating from NC State with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a law and justice concentration, while making the Dean’s List for four consecutive semesters, he began to pursue this dream by accepting a fellowship with the prestigious Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). In this role, Turcios has the opportunity to contribute his educational and lived experiences to the work that occurs within the office of Senator Michael F. Bennett.  

CHCI has transformed my entire life: from getting to meet the President and Vice President to working on bills in my office, they’re just things that I didn’t think were possible for somebody like me,” Turcios said.

Somebody like Turcios, who has completed four internships with highly-recognized institutions, including the Duke Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program, the North Carolina General Assembly, the University of Michigan, and the North Carolina Superior Court.  

Turcios credits his family for much of the support and inspiration for his heretofore success and the work that he does

Within these experiences, Turcios was constantly preparing himself to achieve the dream that he shared with his grandparents in 2017. The dream of making his way to Capitol Hill.

“I spent those few years getting involved because I knew that it would shape my mindset, my professional outlook, for something as big as working on the Hill.” 

Yet, this is not all there is to his identity. One of the most important things that Turcios has realized throughout his experiences in college, and now in government, is the importance of authenticity in every situation. 

He took the opportunity to reflect on how being his true self while pursuing his passion has improved his quality of life, saying: “In Washington, being someone you are not is far too common. It can be easy to fall into a transactional way of life in a place where authenticity is often sacrificed for political expediency. From my experience, however, embracing my roots has brought a greater sense of purpose.”

Turcios attributes being authentic with finding fulfillment in daily life, something that he always encourages others to do, saying, “I’ve learned that being genuine not only strengthens my personal well-being but also contributes positively to the community around me. Authenticity is a powerful force that fosters connection, understanding, and collaboration, qualities that are essential for creating meaningful change in my line of work.”

These lessons in character are undoubtedly relevant to all walks of life, but particularly for those who are finding themselves throughout college.

For Turcios, the support that he needed came largely from TRIO, a federally-funded college education program that is designed to support minority students as they work to overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to higher education.

To Turcios, TRIO was an opportunity to express his dreams, while being encouraged and enabled to pursue them. Turcios said: “TRIO broke my introverted shell and really gave me what I needed to be extroverted and throw myself out there.”

As he embraced a mindset of consistently exposing himself to new things, Turcios began to encounter Honors Seminars and was struck by one in particular that was outside of his major. 

Dr. Scott O’Leary’s “Philosophy and Technology” seminar fascinated Turcios not because of the content, but rather, the way that it was presented.

“It didn’t have anything to do with my interests, but the approach that Dr. O’Leary brought as a professor in that class, I think it really shaped my mindset, and my critical thinking, as well,” Turcios said.

He continued to emphasize the importance of communicating with people in a genuine way, adding, “The way that he would teach was exactly what I needed. It really showed that interdisciplinary studies are actually useful, regardless of what your major or field of study is.”

Meeting people where they are, and being present as needed in each moment, is something that Turcios continues to excel at. Simultaneously, he encourages others to be authentic to themselves and to seek deeper meaning from their interactions with others.

To him, a key part of this is being genuine about your background. Turcios shared: “I think understanding your story, understanding your narrative, and how that has brought you to where you are today is a very important thing to consider and to carry with you as you go on personally, professionally, and academically.”

As we are all working towards our dreams, just as Turcios continues to live the dream he shared with his grandparents in 2017, he reminds us of the value that each of us brings to the table, concluding, “Don’t try to fake it till you make it, don’t embrace that mindset. Be you, be unique.”