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McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento

In this summer program, McCarthy Fellows spend 12 weeks in full time internships at Sacramento institutions that contribute to the California policy-making process.

Fellows 2014Student engage in everything from conducting legislative research to responding to constituent concerns to drafting policy memos. Concurrently, they participate in a California Politics course focused on exposing and analyzing the structures and systems that frame our state’s policy making processes and helping students make meaning of their first-hand experience. Students live, work, and learn in the state capital, while taking advantage of powerful learning opportunities within the context of their internships, their academic course, and the co-curricular offerings that abound in their thriving host city.




Program Details

  • McCarthy Center staff work with local Sacramento consultants to place you 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 Sacramento
  • Enroll in the 4 unit seminar course POLS 375- California Politics Advanced Seminar: CA Politics and Governance
  • McCarthy Center staff assist in securing housing for program participants, which is within walking distance of the Capitol
  • Participate in an intensive one-week orientation to the California legislative process, taught by professionals currently working in a variety of policy-related fields
  • Connect with a mentor (and USF alum), who will provide you with ongoing personal support and professional guidance throughout the summer
  • The program is accessible and relevant to students across all majors
  • Fulfill the core service-learning requirement
  • The McCarthy Center covers the cost of summer tuition and student housing in Sacramento and provides a small monthly stipend to contribute toward other living expenses.

Past internship sites include:

  • California Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Speaker’s Office of Majority Services
  • Assembly Minority Leader’s Office
  • California Department of State Hospitals
  • Press Office of Senate Majority Leader
  • Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
  • California Grocers Association
  • California Energy Commission

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.

Apply online now!

Application Deadline: March 8

To be eligible to apply, students must:

  • Be sophomore standing or higher (undergraduates only, though graduating seniors can apply)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or provide a compelling explanation for why GPA is below requirement
  • Commit to participating in the pre-departure program orientation and meetings. Orientation meetings for Summer 2015 cohort will take place on May 15th

For more information, please contact:

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

Program Timeline

Program Timeline for Summer 2015

  • May 15: Pre-departure training and orientation
  • May 23-24: Students arrive in Sacramento
  • May 19-22: Orientation Week
  • August 14: Students depart from Sacramento

2014 McCarthy Fellows

Jaemie Abad, Nursing, Junior
Internship: Department of State Hospitals
I am proud to call myself a native San Franciscan. Ever since I was young, I loved to volunteer, and I spent a lot of my time working with local non-profit organizations to serve less fortunate communities. From packing bags of rice at the San Francisco Food Bank, to weeding and planting trees for school gardens, to participating in health fair information booths, I filled my schedule with opportunities to interact with diverse individuals who offered me snapshots into their persevering worlds. With an open heart and a willing mind, I became interested in healthcare - more specifically, the nursing profession. I was grateful to be accepted into USF’s nursing program, through which I studied and observed firsthand the disconnection between healthcare standards and practice in hospitals, clinics, schools, case management, and more. I learned to appreciate my experiences in class and on site, and my passion for advocating for and serving communities led me to pursue an interest in public policy making and instigating change for the greater good. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work in Sacramento, and I hope to better understand what goes on in legislation so that I am able to learn, participate, and grow to the fullest extent possible.

Jessica Cuddihy, International Studies, Senior
Internship: Assemblymember Bocanegra
I was born and raised in San Francisco and spent a semester abroad in Paris last fall. I will be graduating this December and so I am looking forward to being a McCarthy Fellow before leaving USF. During my time at USF, I have completed internships that reflect the interests I would like to pursue after graduation: political campaigns, non-profit organizations, and international public service organizations. These internships have been challenging, interesting, and have pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. I look forward to an equally dynamic and exciting internship this summer. I am also looking forward to learning from other Fellows, who will have knowledge and experience that I do not, and their stories and observations will be just as important to me as my own. I am interested to see how an insight into how the political process works may change, shape, or confirm the views that I already have. I am a California native, and I hope that this internship will broaden my understanding of California’s particular political process. When I graduate I hope to work for the US government, and I am sure that this program will give me the valuable, real-world experience that I wouldn’t necessarily get without it.

Kaitlyn Dahl, Politics, Junior
Internship: California Housing Finance Agency
I am from San Jose, California. I first became passionate about politics after taking civics my junior year of high school and since then my passion has only grown. I have a double interest in law and politics, and I pursued this through interning at the Public Defender’s Office in Santa Clara County this past summer and winter break. I absolutely loved working for this office and it really inspired me to continue on doing work akin to this. Another notable service program is that every year, a weekend before Thanksgiving and Christmas, my brother, father, and I help organize and run a food and toy giveaway. The food giveaway is my favorite thing about the holiday season and I have been a part of this for about 15 years. I am deeply excited to be a McCarthy Fellow and I am looking forward to spending my summer in Sacramento. This past year I was able to take a class, Applied Policy Analysis, in which I was able to apply politics knowledge and gain invaluable skills. I really look forward to gaining a better understanding of the state legislative process in Sacramento this summer.

Patrecia Fray, International Studies, Junior
Internship: Assemblymember Steven Bradford
On campus, I am a Qualitative Research Assistant in the Communication Studies department, and the Service and Philanthropy Director for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity. Off-campus, I work as the social media manager for Heroes' Voices, a nonprofit that provides music lessons for veterans. Prior to attending USF, I spent 5 years in the Navy as a Mass Communication Specialist. I worked as a radio DJ, television broadcaster, photographer and public relations specialist across 9 countries and a lot of water. My previous public service experiences include working as an election polling inspector, interning with SF Supervisor Alioto-Pier, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. In the future, I plan to go to law school and work in the nonprofit sector. I am passionate about issues of income inequality, race and gender equity, and veteran's services. During my fellowship this summer, I hope to gain practical experience and learn more about the legislative process. Combined with the California politics course, I think this will be an extremely valuable learning experience.

Taylor Jackson, Theology & Religious Studies, Senior
Internship: Assemblymember Roger Hernandez

Maria Karas, Philosophy, Senior
California Housing Finance Agency
 As a Bay Area native, I was born and raised in Cupertino, but have also lived throughout parts of the South Bay. I owe a great portion of my values and success to my parents: raising an only child as a first generation American-Greek and a soon-to-be first generation college student. During my time at USF, I have been a proud member of the St. Ignatius Institute and a recent sister of the Delta Zeta Sorority. I continued my on-campus involvement as a student worker at Events Management for almost two years. Last year, a huge accomplishment was becoming a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow through USF’s summer program in Austria, where I learned the importance of global citizenship. Within the next two years, I plan on attending graduate school on the East Coast, but I have yet to decide on which program. From a young age, I have always been attracted to a career with the U.S. State Department or an ambassadorship in an European Union country. As a McCarthy Fellow, this is an opportunity to confirm whether California politics is an area I could work in, and during my time in Sacramento I plan to focus on policy changes towards poverty, education, housing and homelessness.

Jim McHugh, Master of Public Affairs Candidate
Internship: California Energy Commission

Sarah Mojarro, Politics, Senior
Internship: California Energy Commission
I am a southern California girl who grew up in the small town of Tustin. I am enrolled in the Dual Degree for Teacher Preparation program. When I began USF three years ago, I immediately fell in love with the city and university’s spirit of social justice. During my first semester at USF I interned for the city’s mayoral election and gained my first experience working on a political campaign. My second semester I worked on President Obama’s reelection campaign by helping to raise funds and reach out to contributors. During my first summer break, I continued my search for social justice in Brazil, and I worked at an after school program teaching English to students ages five to twelve. During my time in Brazil I fell in love with the country, teaching, traveling, and I also became more aware of what social justice would mean in my life. When I began my third semester at USF, I continued my work in the classroom through a program called Mission Graduates and worked in an after school program at Bryant Elementary School. I have also interned for a program called Generation Citizen that promotes active citizenship in high school and middle school classrooms. I was given the opportunity to combine my enthusiasm for politics with my passion for teaching and worked on a semester long project promoting citizen engagement. I reinforced our classroom project with lessons about the importance of voting and maintaining active political involvement to promote a democratic society. I am honored to be participating in the McCarty Fellows program in Sacramento because I feel it will be one of the most rewarding and significant experiences in my academic and professional career. I look forward to the new challenges, and learning opportunities I hope to achieve by participating in this program.

Giana Orsi, Psychology, Senior
Internship: Assemblymember Chris Holden
I was born and raised in the vivacious town of Stockton, CA and have lived there my entire life. Living in Stockton has truly shaped me to be the person I am today given its opportunities to work to create a better community. During my time there I knew I wanted to get involved and always found myself drawn to helping those marginalized in the community. During my late teens I found myself working in migrant ministry and it stuck: I had found my calling! Working as an advocate for immigrant rights in health care and education was not only engaging and spiritually rewarding but also a true leap of faith and helped me work alongside an extremely marginalized group. In my three years as a Psychology major/Child and Youth Studies minor student at USF, I have found that to really go out in the community and pursue things you enjoy is a true gift given to every college student. I have worked as a Resident Advisor helping students transition into college life, as a Psychology Peer Advisor, and I have been a volunteer for Saint Vincent de Paul Society working alongside students and other volunteers to serve the marginalized homeless community in San Francisco. I am really excited to be a part of the McCarthy Fellows program because it is something so new and exciting for me! I feel that this program will offer me a real world application of politics and a great experience working alongside other USF interns to become active members of the legislative process. I also feel it is very applicable going into the legal field as a lawyer because this will give me great hands on practice in working with legislators to serve the communities they represent.

Eric Schroer, Philosophy, Senior
Internship: Department of Housing and Community Development
As a Philosophy Major and a Politics Minor, USF has offered me numerous opportunities to delve into political thought, understand political structures, and deliberate about social change. USF and the McCarthy Center have also helped connect me to local communities in San Francisco and abroad. I have been fortunate enough to work as an Advocate for Community Engagement, in which I have served as a volunteer coordinator with USF service-learners at the Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. I have enjoyed building a relationship with everyone at the YMCA, and working with my student peers while they create relationships with the community. Through my internships I have witnessed the strength of communities which collaborate with residents, allies, and political structures. Through my experiences, education, and work, I am passionate about social issues such as housing policy, education, and community development. I believe the Fellows program will empower me to work towards social justice in my future endeavors. By working at the state level, I intend to develop skills around policy creation and the legislative processes.. I am excited for the Fellows program and the opportunity to better understand statewide politics and fundamental questions about civic participation and democracy.

Taelor Stamm, Art History/Arts Management, Senior
Internship: Assemblymember Phil Ting
I am from Northern California, born and raised. During my time at USF I have participated in many organizations and programs, and held various leadership positions that the University offers their students. The organizations I am proud to have been involved with include: ASUSF Electoral Governing Board which previously ran ASUSF Senate elections and taught me various professional and politically inclined skills; Get Oriented (GO) Team as a member three years in a row, which molded me into the leader I am today. I’ve also had three internships in various art institutions in San Francisco. I am so excited to be a part of the McCarthy Fellows program in Sacramento to further educate myself, and challenge myself both professionally and personally. I am currently considering graduate programs and want to experience the political sphere before choosing a career path. My interests in politics have grown exponentially during my last years at USF as I began taking courses to have more confidence in my opinions as a citizen. Particularly, my political interests include education equality, gender equality, immigration policy, and state budget policies and its effects on Californian communities. I hope to gain insights about these topics through channels that news media doesn’t offer, and discover how I can make effective change in my state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where will I live and what are living costs for students while in Sacramento?
The McCarthy Center will provide support in identifying convenient student housing options close to the Capitol. While housing costs are funded by the McCarthy Center, students will pay their own utilities, internet/cable, and other expenses. Students will also be provided with monthly stipends to assist with the cost of living while participating in the program.

I am a senior and will be graduating in May. Can I still participate in the program?
Yes, graduating seniors may apply to our Fellows program. While all our Fellows are required to participate in the Politics 375 course, graduating seniors enroll in this course for no credit. As with all our Fellows, graduating fellows are encouraged to use this unique opportunity to further develop their professional skill sets, expand their professional network, and gain working experience as they explore their career paths upon graduation.

I don’t have much professional experience in a political setting. Is this program for me?
Our Fellows program is open to students of all majors with a range of professional backgrounds. Through student preparation and training sessions prior to the start of the program, a week-long CA politics orientation in Sacramento, and ongoing support throughout the program, the McCarthy Center will assist students to maximize their professional growth during their internship in Sacramento. Students will also have a mentor to provide career and professional advice and will be encouraged to attend professional networking engagements throughout the summer.