Summer Sizzles for Interns in Sacramento Program

New Loveridge Summer Fellowships in Sacramento program opens doors for five UCR students

student in front of Capitol

Sahar Khalil is one of five students selected for the inaugural class of Loveridge Summer Fellowships in Sacramento.

RIVERSIDE, California – Sacramento may slow down in summer, but the business of government never stops, as five University of California, Riverside students can attest.

Undergraduate students participating in the inaugural Loveridge Summer Fellowships in Sacramento, a 10-week internship program that concludes this month, said the experience opened their eyes to the complexities of government and the impact policy decisions have on individual lives. It also opened doors to career opportunities in public service.

“This summer affirmed for me that public service is what I want to do,” said Turner Stanton, a junior majoring in business administration who is interning in the office of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I want to make as big of an impact as I can. I want to be an agent of change.”

Participating in the summer internship program are: Stanton, who will graduate with a minor in political science in 2017; Sahar Khalil, who graduated in June with a B.A. in political science/law and society and will enroll in the University of San Francisco School of Law on Aug. 24; Debby Marroquin, who graduated in June with a B.A. in political science/law and society; Malenee Guzman, who earned her B.A. in political science/law and society in June; and Abraham Vivanco, who expects to complete a B.A. in political science/public administration in 2016.

UC Riverside students have interned in Sacramento, Riverside and Washington, D.C., for nearly 50 years under the tutelage of Ron Loveridge, associate professor of political science and former longtime mayor of the city of Riverside. He also directs the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, which is affiliated with the UCR School of Public Policy.

The new Loveridge Summer Fellowship program, offered through the Department of Political Science, differs from other internship opportunities in that it is not connected to a class. Rather, students are placed in key offices in the capital in full-time internships and connect with alumni and other mentors throughout their stay. Each student receives a $2,000 stipend to help with living expenses.

Chuck Cole, a 1970 graduate and president of the Sacramento lobbying firm Advocation Inc., led the effort to raise funds to provide stipends for the participants, raising $10,750 from 25 donors.

“It’s an incredible opportunity that goes with you your whole life,” said Cole, who, like a majority of UCR students today, was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He recalled how Loveridge persuaded him to seek an internship in Sacramento rather than in Washington, D.C. Cole interned with Republican Assembly Minority Leader W. Craig Biddle, and later with Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown through the California State Assembly Fellowship Program.

The experience changed his life and launched him in a career that was unexpected, he said. Current and future interns will find their time in Sacramento equally pivotal, he said.

“Sacramento is still a place where you can solve problems, where one person with a desire to achieve something can impact the world in a positive way,” Cole said. “Meeting these five, fantastic students, I am excited about the future of politics and government in this state. Not only are their career choices going to be affected, their personal beliefs about problem solving and what government can do will be also. Each of them has a real desire to give back to the community.”

Turner Stanton

Turner Stanton interned in the office of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Turner Stanton

Working in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor has affirmed Stanton’s passion for public service. In addition to researching and writing policy briefs, he was tasked with developing a digital town hall on social media and determining how best to engage constituents who use email but not social media.

“Gavin Newsom is big on using technology to engage with people and he wants us to come up with an original idea to use technology to connect with people in a new platform,” he explained.

Stanton said he has participated in internships since high school, and managed the re-election campaign of a Danville City Council member, who told him to look up Loveridge when he enrolled at UCR.

“Sacramento definitely knows who Ron Loveridge is,” he said, adding that the connections the political scientist helped him make are invaluable. “He had two guidelines for me this summer: See if people at this level like you and think that what you have to offer is valuable, and see if working behind the scenes is really what you want to do. This definitely lit my fire to be in this area of service.”

Stanton said he was surprised by the number of UCR alumni who work in Sacramento, and their willingness to mentor current students. “I’ve had a great experience here.”

Sahar Khalil

As an intern in the office of Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside), Khalil has analyzed bills, attended Senate committee hearings and staff briefings, and met with constituents and lobbyists. She also drafted a press release about a legislative decision and the senator’s position, a project that helped her understand how to respond to media inquiries about Roth’s views on an issue and the politics involved in policy work.

“This internship introduced me to many areas of policy,” she said. “I did an internship before through the UCDC (University of California Washington Center) at an advocacy firm for environmental policy. Here, you see veterans affairs, education, everything, and that’s really cool. Everyone on Sen. Roth’s team has been so welcoming and really enhanced the Sacramento experience for me.”

Participating in the internship has also influenced her course of study in law school.

“I thought I was going into criminal law, but I really like policy work and the legislative process,” she said. “You feel like you’re affecting more people. It’s how the law is made. As a prosecutor, you’re enforcing the law. When you’re working on policy, you’re creating the law.”

Women attorneys she met advised her about what to expect in law school. But no one has impacted her life as much as Ron Loveridge, she said. “He’s really changed my life. He’s one of the few professors I know who will work with you and push you to get these experiences. I’m very grateful.”

Debby Marroquin

Debby Marroquin spent the summer interning at the Institute for Local Government.

Debby Marroquin

Marroquin applied for a Loveridge Summer Fellowship to expand on the experience she had in the UC Sacramento Center public policy program in the spring quarter. She is interning at the Institute for Local Government (ILG), the nonprofit research and education affiliate of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.

While there, Marroquin has done extensive research on cap and trade programs, written weekly stories about sustainability best practices in California communities, and analyzed survey results on the understanding different local agencies have on state policies affecting them.

“Without the internship, I would not have understood the complexity of local governance and the relationships between counties, cities and special districts,” she said. “Also, I would have not learned the extent to which local governments can have an impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the state resources available to aid them in combating climate change.”

Marroquin will spend the coming year working full time in the Office of the Governor through the Capital Fellowship Program.

Abraham Vivanco

Abraham Vivanco interned in the Office of the Secretary of State.

Abraham Vivanco

Interning in the office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla confirmed what Vivanco has believed for many years: That politicians and people who make government work generally do so with passion and dedication.

“You can see it being executed at the capital,” he said. “Through passion, dedication, and the necessary skills you can evolve into a person who can actually change and create laws that affect Californians’ everyday lives.”

Vivanco has assisted a variety of officials in the secretary of state’s office, conducting legal and data research, creating data tables, and writing memorandums and summaries. Working alongside skilled and experienced strategists helped him learn “everything from the basics of organization to … what the political atmosphere entails… .”

The experience of working with staff attorneys solidified his decision to become an attorney, he said, a career he believes will provide an opportunity to give back to the community. “Sacramento has taught me valuable legal perspectives on what our government needs, and I believe I will return to help shape the next new governmental mold,” he said.

Malenee Guzman

Malenee Guzman

Malenee Herrera Guzman

One of the most important lessons Guzman has learned while interning in the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is to be concise. “In order to do policy briefing, and briefing for anything, really, you have to be direct and straightforward,” she said.

Early in her internship Guzman worked on policy briefings, research and data entry, and attended hearings. When she asked for a long-term project, her supervisor assigned her to work on a report that analyzes education inequity among different socioeconomic groups.

“My perspective regarding public service has shifted,” Guzman said. “Interning for a state agency, I see how programs are implemented at a distance due to scope of governance. The state, for the most part, has the right intentions when making decisions, but also deals with numerous stakeholders that may make it more difficult to get things done. So although Californians want certain things to change, they usually don’t acknowledge how complex the process is to get things done at a state level versus a local level. It’s not that people are not, as some would say, ‘doing their jobs.’ ”

The fellowship experience has changed her career plans as well. Law school is out. Public service is in.

“Working a full-time position as an intern has taught me how to take initiative in some of the most uncomfortable settings ever and has introduced me to the ‘real world,’” she said. “I want to continue working in Sacramento to further my experience in education policy until I decide to pursue my graduate degree, likely in public policy.”

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