Group of people holding hands  and bowing
McCarthy Center Blog
What are McCarthy Center students, faculty, community partners and staff up to? Find Out »
Engage SF grant reception title slide
Engage slide 1
Engage slide 2
Kumashiro and Wardell at Engage SF reception
Band at Engage SF reception
Grant recipient Engage SF reception
Guests at Engage SF reception
London Breed at Engage SF reception
Karin Cotterman speaking at Engage SF reception
Fr. Fitzgerald shaking hands at Engage SF reception
Ron Sundstrom speaking at Engage SF reception
Sundstrom and Balls Organista at Engage SF reception

USF in Washington DC

USF in DC is a semester-long program in Washington D.C. that integrates a full-time internship with relevant coursework taught by USF faculty and University of California Washington Program (UC DC) faculty.

DC Lincoln

Participants can choose from a range of elective courses and internship opportunities that meet their interests and skill sets. Students will spend their semester engaging with peers from across the country in the heart of the capital, where they will live, learn, and explore all that DC has to offer.

“I constantly find myself surrounded by individuals equally passionate about public service and policy-driven change. It is because of this commitment that I am able to grow and become better acquainted with life in our nation's capital, and at the same time take a forward step in achieving my goals” - Jose "Pepe" Gil, ‘14

Program Goals and Objectives

Program Details

  • Apply to spend either Fall 2015 or Spring 2016 semester in Washington D.C.
  • Enroll through USF in 16 units of coursework and fulfill core service-learning requirement.
  • Engage in a full-time internship meant to hone your professional skills, extend your academic knowledge into real-world applications, and immerse you in the unique political and social culture of Washington D.C.
  • Take elective courses through the University of California’s Washington Center (UCDC Consortium) with visiting professors from University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, and various UC campuses. Current elective courses offered cover a range of topics including American National Politics, Political Journalism and Media, Campaign Politics, US Foreign Policy, Middle East Studies, International Law and Policy, Consumers and Public Health, Sustainability & Environment, International Relations, Washington Ethics, and more.
  • Live at the UC Washington Center, along with students from other UC campuses, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and University of Pennsylvania.
  • Access a range of Washington Center programming activities, excursions, and events.
  • Attend the UCDC Monday night "Forum" lecture series, as an opportunity to meet with politicians, policy makers, journalists, and prominent scholars.
  • The program is accessible and relevant to students across a variety of majors.
  • Pay USF tuition, other applicable student fees, and travel costs (contact McCarthy Center to discuss whether your financial aid package will apply).

Past internship sites have included:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Office
  • Immigration Equality
  • House Judiciary Committee
  • Members of Congress
  • Federal Agencies
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
  • Common Cause
  • Sierra Club
  • CBS News
  • White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
  • Department of Education
  • Center for American Progress

How to Apply

The application process includes completion of the online application (link below), submission of one reference letter, and participation in an interview with selection committee.

Application Deadline: March 8

To be eligible to apply, students must:

  • Be sophomore standing or higher (undergraduates only)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or provide a compelling explanation for why GPA is below requirement

Click HERE to apply online for USF in DC.

For more information about the USF in DC program, please contact:

Fernando Enciso-Márquez
Coordinator of Community Partnerships
(415) 422-2033

Program Timeline

Timeline for Spring 2015 Cohort:

  • January 4-5: Students Arrive
  • January 6: Courses begin
  • April 17: Courses end
  • April 18: Students depart from D.C.

Current Participants

Geoffrey Fitzpatrick headshotGeoffrey Fitzpatrick
Junior, Politics
Internship site: Senator Maria Cantewell
I have always had an interest in public service, specifically in law, public policy, and the overall political process. At USF, my coursework has included several classes focused on the societal and political struggle for human rights. I believe the USF in DC program will give me an up-close opportunity to see how government handles these complex human rights issues, how consensus is formed, and how laws are created. Beyond the classroom, my collegiate experience also includes an internship for California Superior Court Justice Colleen Sterne, and an internship with the Santa Barbara law firm of Hollister and Brace. Overall, I’m really looking forward to the USF in DC program including daily life in perhaps the most powerful city in the world. I can’t wait to settle in and discuss law and politics with an entirely new group of professors and students with similar interests. Hopefully this experience, combined with an expanded network of great mentors and equally passionate peers, will be a springboard to law school, and a fascinating career in law and politics.

Pepe Gil USF in DCPepe Gil
Senior, Politics
Internship site: White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics
I am currently a student in the Politics department located within the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of San Francisco. I have also served as an Advocate for Community Engagement at USF’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service & the Common Good, and prior to that served as a legislative intern for Congressman Raul Ruiz in Washington, D.C. Throughout the course of my academic and professional life I have campaigned for causes such as equal access to education, housing rights, indigenous rights, voter’s rights as well as environmental justice. As a participant in the McCarthy Center’s USF in DC Program during the Fall of 2014, I hope to gain valuable work experience within the field of public policy in order to gain concrete tools so that one day I can become deeply immersed in the legislative process and transform into a fierce change-agent dedicated to social justice and community empowerment.

Jackie Knitter USF in DCJaclyn Knitter
Sophomore, Politics
Internship site: Asian Pacific American Center, Smithsonian Institute
Jackie is a Sophomore Politics major interested in minoring in Asian Pacific American Studies and Cultural Anthropology. Growing up as a diplomatic dependent has allowed her to serve in communities across the globe, including an orphanage in Azerbaijan, villages in the Malaysian rainforest, and with her previous school community in Mililani, Hawai’i. During her time at USF, she has served with the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Ozanam Wellness Center and Raphael House through the Martín-Baró Scholars Program. She is also active with the St. Ignatius Parish’s Shelter Meal Program, cooking and serving meals to San Francisco’s homeless population. Her experiences as a Resident Advisor at USF and as the Politics Department Student Assistant have also contributed to her understanding of public service and the promotion of leadership/civic engagement. Jackie plans to leverage this unique opportunity to build relationships with underrepresented Asian American/Asian Pacific Islander communities in DC, conduct research for USF on a variety of topics that are important to her, and establish a path towards future governmental work. Her greatest desire is to return to USF next Spring and use her experience to inspire and encourage other students to pursue public service through USF in DC.

Madeline Meininger USF in DCMadeline Meininger
Senior, Politics
Internship site: House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff
I am a Senior Politics major with a minor in Public Service and Community Engagement from Portland, OR. After spending three years at USF as a very involved student leader, participating in ASUSF Senate, GO Team, Campus Activities Board, I wanted to get out into a new environment. I have previously volunteered and interned with education organizations, such as Reading Partners and Generation Citizen, and campaigns, both local and national, but am excited to extend my experience into a whole discipline and coast. I hope to hone and refine the basics, research and writing, while learning more about and helping create change in the policy areas I care about most, specifically immigration. After I graduate in the Spring, I hope to either return to Washington to work on the hill or get involved in a presidential campaign, as they will conveniently kick off right around the time I graduate in May. I'm looking forward to making connections, learning more about the practical interpretation of contentious issues, and gaining a better understanding of what I want for my future during my time in Washington.

Julia Pereira
Junior, Communication Studies
Internship site: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
I am a second year Communication Studies major. My previous experiences in public service include interning at Unite Here Local 2, a service workers labor union, facilitating educational programs for refugee communities in Lebanon, volunteer work with anti-war and anti-imperialist organizations, as well as some volunteer work with immigrant communities in my hometown, which is situated on the Mexican-American border. During my participation in the USF in DC program I hope to acquire skills that will help me advance the causes I care deeply about, network with professionals and entities that serve the people, develop professional and practical skills, as well as learn more about American politics and dynamics as they actually function. Specifically I am interested in taking classes that cover journalism, international relations, and US foreign policy. Some issues I would like to get more engaged with are income inequality and immigration. I hope that while engaging with these issues in DC, I will be able to see the way the issues take shape in San Francisco with a more enlightened perspective. Additionally, I am hoping that this experience helps me define my career goals and allows to me to explore my field more. I am very much looking forward to my time learning with the McCarthy Center and expect that the fall 2014 semester will be both intellectually refreshing and professionally productive.

Madeline Sweeney
Senior, Politics
Internship site: Woodrow Wilson Center
I am a Politics major with a minor in European Studies. Most of my classes have had a focus on Europe, with a particular emphasis in British politics and the UK’s place in the European Union. I have had a range of internships from working in the private sector as a sales intern for Pandora Media in Oakland, CA, to interning for Phil Ting’s California State Assembly campaign, to working in a more international environment as an intern for the Consulate General of Ireland in San Francisco. During my most recent internship, I worked as an intern at the Office of Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter, a Labour MP in the British House of Commons. By the time the USF in DC fall semester begins, I will have just finished working as an Executive Office Intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in London. At USF I have served on the executive board of the Model United Nations club from 2011-2013, and served as the president in 2013. Seeing as I will participate in USF in DC during my last semester of undergraduate study, I am hoping to gain a more specific idea of what I wish to focus on in grad school and talk to professionals who have already taken a similar route. Also, having lived in both Paris and London, two major capital cities, I am ready to experience living in my own country’s capital city and being close to where all the important decisions are made.

Ruth Welland
Senior, Politics
Internship site: National Council on Disabilities

My name is Ruth Welland, and I am a senior majoring in political science at the University of San Francisco. My involvement in public service includes having served on the California State Chancellor’s advisory committee, guest presenter for Senator Marty Block’s press release of SB 705, and having completed internships with Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and the Senate Office of Research. I have also researched and presented a memorandum and a policy brief to the California State Athletic Commission regarding Youth Pankration (competitive mixed martial arts fighting). I also founded and presided over an advocacy organization for students with disabilities beginning in 2010, and serve as chief advisor to the current officers. We have championed a variety of prominent issues by hosting educational empowerment speakers, disability awareness panels, communication workshops, and resource fairs. We worked with the campus police to sponsor an emergency evacuation preparedness workshop with the implementation of new emergency equipment. In addition, I also launched the Voices of Hope Motivational Award, which recognizes the exceptional spirit and motivation of six students living with the challenges of disabilities.
After I graduate next May, I aspire to apply for fellowships within the California State legislature before attending law school for a J.D. and a masters in public policy. Ultimately, I aim to work in the California State legislature as a policy research analyst, and continue my advocacy efforts within and for the disabled community. I am thrilled to serve in our nation’s Capitol as an intern in the McCarthy Center’s program for the fall 2014 semester.

Kelsey Wolfgram USF in DCKelsey Wolfgram
Senior, Politics
Internship site: Congressman Joe Heck
 I am a senior Politics major with a Middle Eastern Studies minor. Having just spent a term interning in London through University of San Francisco’s Center for Global Education I will be joining the Leo T. McCarthy Center’s USF in Washington DC program for the Fall 2014 semester. Following my studies at universities in San Francisco and London, my time in Washington DC will advance my political acumen and further broaden my globally focused worldview. My academic and career interests lie in foreign policy, but over the past four years I have invested myself in policy creation and implementation with Bay Area environmental conservation organization Committee for Green Foothills, Mission district early education institution Holy Family Day Home, and now with the UK think tank Public Policy Exchange. These experiences have exposed me to local, state, and foreign systems of governance; accordingly, during my time in Washington DC I hope gain invaluable first hand insight into our national government. In my opinion, public policy strives to sensibly solve human dilemmas at national and local levels whereas foreign policy provides international solutions. Drawing upon my public policy background I intend to intern with an institution working towards the creation and implementation of practical international foreign policy. Eventually, I aim to work abroad in diplomacy with the Department of State in their Political or Public Diplomacy capacities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I earn credit towards my major core requirement by participating in the USF in DC program?
The USF in DC internship component of our program fulfills core USF Service-Learning requirement for students across all majors. Currently, as other USF in DC courses are offered through the Politics department, these courses typically count as elective credit for other departments. Please contact the McCarthy Center for more information.

Where will I live and how much does housing cost?
The McCarthy Center will assist students in identifying convenient housing options close to the Capitol, internship sites, and the University of California Washington Center. While students are responsible for housing fees, Washington, D.C. housing options are comparable to USF and San Francisco living costs. Students also have access to D.C.’s Metro transportation system for quick and easy travel to their respective internship sites and key destinations in D.C.

I do not have much professional experience so far; how will I secure an internship?
Our program is open to students with a range of professional, campus involvement, and volunteer experiences. Students will have access to USF resources in drafting cover letters and resumes, and will also receive support while identifying possible organizations students will apply to as they search for internship placements. Professor Ken Goldstein (USF Politics faculty member) and McCarthy Center staff will provide ongoing student support throughout the DC experience.