CHASS Students Become Capital Fellows

By Staci Wilson, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
June 15, 2012

Each year, the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University offers exceptional young students with a passion for advocacy a chance to work in the state capital as part of a branch office. Participants are referred to as “Capital Fellows” and elect to be part of one of four available fellowship programs: the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship, the Executive Fellowship, the Judicial Administration Fellowship, or the California Senate Fellowship. Regardless of which program they choose, Capital Fellows spend eleven months as full time employees of Sacramento State, with health benefits and a monthly stipend of $1972. During this time they are afforded the opportunity to work directly with our state leadership, helping to develop and implement California public policy. In addition, Capital Fellows continue their education as part of Sacramento State’s graduate program. They are offered a series of program specific weekly seminars led by academic advisors, and all related enrollment fees are covered by the fellowship. At the end of their Capital Fellowship, each participant is eligible to apply for a Federal-State Relations Fellowship, which could place them in Washington, D.C. for a year with the California Institute for Federal Policy Research.

The Capital Fellowship Program is open to bachelor’s degree recipients of all majors (including post graduate candidates), but unfortunately can only accept a very limited number of applicants state wide. Past Capital Fellows include a Justice of the California Supreme Court, several members of congress and the state legislature, as well as a deputy director of the Peace Corps. This year, we are honored to announce, two of our own graduating seniors here at UCR, Israel Landa and Daniel Sanchez, have officially been named Capital Fellows and will travel to Sacramento in the fall to begin their work.

Israel Landa, public policy major with an emphasis on foreign and international policy as well as urban and environmental policy, will be part of the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellows Program. Landa’s interest in public policy began years ago, at Riverside Community College, where he became involved in student government through several district committees and was eventually elected Student Body President. After graduating from RCC with three associates degrees (Associate in Arts, Associate in Natural Science, and Associate in Math and Science), Landa transferred to UCR in Fall 2010, and it is here that he decided to pursue public policy as a potential career. He describes meeting Professor Gary Dymski, who was teaching an introduction to public policy course at the time, and occasionally invited members of the California State Assembly to meet his students. “That sparked an interest in me,” says Landa, “and it led me to seek an opportunity to explore public service as a career.” And so he applied for the U.C. Sacramento program and soon found himself working under assembly member Norma Torres. “After completing U.C. Sacramento, I knew that I wanted to go back and work for the State Assembly, but I also saw an opportunity to give back to the state which has, in many ways, helped me to attain my current educational goals,” he says. Landa’s current concentration is on poverty and housing related inequality. After completing the Capital Fellowship program he hopes to continue on at Sacramento State and earn his master’s degree in public policy, perhaps even a PhD somewhere down the line.

Daniel Sanchez’s interest in legislation, on the other hand, began with a tragedy. Eleven years ago, his father suffered a severe injury at work that caused him to become mentally handicapped. Sanchez soon found himself acting as his father’s advocate out of necessity, as medical bills piled up and disputes with insurance agents ensued. Realizing what a trying time this was for himself and his family, Sanchez decided he wanted to help other families facing similar troubles. He became a political science major at UCR and, over the course of his academic career, dedicated himself to participation in extracurricular activities that would prepare him for work in a legislative office. Sanchez was part of the UCDC program (Fall 2011), as well as an internship in the office of Senator Barbara Boxer. He is one of only eighty students state-wide to receive a Robert T. Matsui University of California Congressional Fellowship, intended to fund a term in Washington. He currently holds an internship in the office of Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, and will continue there until his Capital Fellowship begins in the fall. During the fellowship, Sanchez will be part of the California Senate program. “I believe in the importance this line of work means for many Californians like my mother and father,” he says. “By being a Senate Fellow, I will make a positive impact for my family and my community.”

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