Trio of 2012 UC Riverside Graduates Named to Capital Fellows Program

Eleven-month fellowship provides significant opportunity and challenges for participants

Faces superimposed over state capitol

Breann Watt, Israel Landa and Daniel Sanchez will spent the 2012-13 academic year in Sacramento as part of the prestigious Capital Fellows Program.

A trio of 2012 University of California, Riverside graduates will be spending a year in Sacramento after having been named to the prestigious Capital Fellows Program for 2012-13.

  • Israel Landa was named to the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program. A resident of Riverside who came to UCR via Riverside Community College, he will receive his bachelor’s degree in public policy with an emphasis on foreign and international policy and urban and environmental policy during ceremonies this weekend.
  • Daniel Sanchez was named to the California Senate Fellows Program. A native of Rialto, he will receive his bachelor’s degree in political science during ceremonies this weekend.
  • Breann Watt was named to the Judicial Administration Fellowship Program. The Corona native earned her bachelor’s degree in political science in March of 2012.

In addition, Lindsay McDowell, a 2009 UC Riverside graduate who went on to receive a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2012, will participate in the Executive Fellowship Program.

A total of 18 students are named to the Assembly, Senate and Executive Fellowships and 10 to the Judicial Administration Fellowship. Counted among the programs’ alumni are members of the United States Congress and the State Legislature, a deputy director of the Peace Corps, a member of the California Supreme Court, state and local government officials, corporate executives and community leaders.

The fellowship programs are administered by Sacramento State University and students receive a monthly stipend as well as health benefits. They serve for 10-11 months as full-time members of their respective offices and are typically given assignments with significant responsibility and challenges. They also enroll as graduate students at Sacramento State and attend weekly graduate seminars conducted by their program’s academic advisors.

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Daniel Sanchez

“To have three students accepted into this prestigious program is remarkable,” said Trina Elerts, program coordinator for the UCR – UC Washington Academic Internship Program (UCDC) and UCR – UC Center Sacramento Scholar Intern Program (UCCS). “I have had the privilege to work with each of them during their career and their accomplishment speaks for itself.”

Sanchez, who previously served as a Robert T. Matsui Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Barbara Boxer in Washington, D.C. and is now interning in the district offices of Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod until he goes to Sacramento in September, said that the fellowship provides an opportunity to make a positive impact for his community and his family, particularly in the area of health care.

“My father was injured in a work-place accident 11 years ago and became mentally disabled. My mother has carried the burden of working in a job solely because of the employer-provided health care. The reality that my parents face is one that many Californians face,” he said. “I hope I can make a difference through the policy-making process.”

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Breann Watt

Watt participated in the UCDC program in the fall of 2010 and did an internship with the law offices of  Kohn, Kohn, & Colapinto. She said the experience and “the vibe” of working in Washington, D.C. helped push her into the field of public policy and law.

The native of Corona, who attended Centennial High School, has been placed with the Public Outreach Office of Sacramento Superior Court. She said she planned on using her fellowship experience to help guide her career choice.

“It is such a wide and diverse field,” she said. “I hope it will give me a better idea of what is out there and help me decide if I want to go to law school or do graduate work in political science or public policy.”

Landa was a participant in student government at RCC, but it was a public policy class that he took after transferring to UCR in the fall of 2010 that made him look twice at the idea of public service.

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Israel Landa

“I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Gary Dymski, who often took the time to speak to students about their goals and aspirations. He also invited guest speakers who were involved in public policy,” he said. “This sparked an interested in me and led me to see if public service was something I wanted to do as a career.”

Landa participated in the UC Sacramento program and was a scholar intern in the office of Assemblymember Norma J. Torres’ 61st district office during the Spring 2011 quarter.

“UC Sacramento was a great learning experience for me because it allowed me to be part of a team of legislative staff who were always willing to teach me how the process of making public policy worked.” Landa said. “After completing UC Sacramento, I knew that I wanted to go back and work for the State Assembly in order to continue learning more, but I also saw an opportunity to give back to the state which has in many ways helped me to fulfill my educational goals.”

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