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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.

McCarthy Fellows 2013Student 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.

  • Typically 8-10 Fellows are accepted to the program each year.
  • Fellows are matched with an internship site that closely aligns with their academic and professional experience, as well as provides an opportunity to work in a public service or policy area relevant to their career goals.

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:

  • Assembly Floor Analysis Unit
  • Speaker’s Office of Majority Services
  • Assembly Minority Leader’s Office
  • CA Department of Healthcare Services
  • Press Office of Senate Majority Leader
  • Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
  • California Grocers Association

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 18

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 2014 cohort will take place on May 9th and 19th from 9am-12pm.

For more information, please contact:

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

Program Timeline

Tentative Program Timeline for Summer 2014

  • Mid April: Pre-departure training and orientations
  • May 17: Students arrive in Sacramento
  • May 19-22: Orientation Week
  • May 26: Begin Internship
  • August 8: End Internship
  • August 9: Students depart from Sacramento

2013 McCarthy Fellows

Victoria Castaneda, International Studies, Senior
Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, Media, and Internet Committee
Hello, my name is Victoria Sandra Castaneda. I am an International Studies major with a concentration in Global Politics & Societies, with a regional minor in African Studies. I also was in the Advanced Certificate in the French Language Program (which I would encourage fellow French students to pursue), which marks how I, too, join the ranks of the many which have fallen in love with the French language. I identify as a Peruvian-San Franciscan, with a passion for social justice (particularly the study of the various inequalities constructed by the various societies), obsessed with cultural fusions and questions of identity, a love of the international, a never-officially-pursued overwhelming interest in the arts, and a secret desire to enter the world of local (domestic) public policy. The program promises so much and I want to learn as much as I can, however, if I must describe what I seek to gain in this experience, I have to consider three essential understandings I wish to broaden. I seek, in this internship experience, first and foremost, to broaden my understanding of human relations: to put a human face to the governance of California and to experience legislation and policy through people’s stories. Also, to broaden my understanding of public policy and its creation, which I imagine is highly complex in itself, and even more so in the state of California. Finally, I wish to broaden my understanding of what roles politics play in policy (see it first hand) and—more importantly—the roles of identity and social justice in public policy (if, even, these roles are defined). I look forward to all the Capitol and Sacramento can teach me.

Johnny Chibnall, Politics, Junior
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla
My name is John Chibnall but most people just call me Johnny. Originally, I come from St. Louis, Missouri. I am a Politics major with a Spanish minor and I will be a senior at USF in fall 2013. Currently at USF, I serve as the Student Body President, a position I will be continuing into a second term. In addition to that role, I am also a brother of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity where I hold the position of Chaplain. I also sing in the St. Ignatius Mass Choir each Sunday. In the past, I worked as a teaching assistant for a freshmen seminar called “Opera in San Francisco” and I also worked New Student Orientation for two years in different leadership roles. I would consider myself a pretty active member of the USF community!My political interests are just as varied as my life interests. I really enjoy political theory because I think that understanding the origin of the physical practices is essential to making positive and influential change. My topics of interest include education, immigration and immigration reform as well as civil rights and/or LGBT rights issues. I have passions for these subjects from both personal interactions with the themes as well as general interest in the subjects. One day, I hope to work in government on a national level in Washington DC with either the State Department or maybe even public office. Through the McCarthy Fellowship, I hope to gain some practical, real world experience in the political process. I want to be able to apply what I have learned during my three years in the classroom at USF to real life and actual work experience. I am excited for the challenge of trying something completely new and perhaps out of my comfort zone. I learn best by doing and that’s what I hope to achieve from my participation in this program.

Isabella Minoli, Politics, Junior
California Grocers Association (CGA)
No matter what, I need to have a job where I get to work with a lot of people and help a lot of people. After spending my entire life saying that I was going to be a dentist, these two “non-negotiables” as I like to call them are what changed my mind. Sure, a dentist certainly does both of those things but it is truly to an extent. Sitting in AP U.S. Government my senior year of high school I realized this. It was at this moment that I decided to do something more meaningful with my life than cleaning teeth, filling cavities, and having people dread the thought of having to see me. This is what has brought me, Isabella Minoli to the Sacramento Summer Fellows program. It is through this amazing opportunity that I’m hoping to finally be able to apply what I’ve learned in my past three years at USF and one semester abroad in England at Oxford University to something real in the hopes of catching a small glimpse into what my future might look like. I am a driven Politics major with minors in both Legal Studies and Classical studies and come August, I want to enter my senior year with absolute confidence in that once I graduate, I’ll be ready to as our school’s tagline says, start to “change the world from here.” Just where I’ll start is something I’ve yet to decide. Off the top of my head, public housing and development, local politics, constitutional law, policymaking, and education in particular are all really important to me. At this particular moment in time I’d love the opportunity to work for a non-profit but something like holding an office sounds pretty good to me too! My mind really does change everyday though. I’ve even thought about going to grad school for something like broadcast journalism (a subject I studied all through high school) to become a political analyst and contributor for the news! I’m laughing now because I realize how scatter-brained I must seem, but I’m at a point in my life where so many paths lay before me that I know could all make me and others very happy. In short, I am just so thankful and excited to be a part of the Sacramento Summer Fellows program because I know the experience is only going to help guide me in the right direction and I am ready to give it my all!

Lorenzo Reyna, Nursing, Junior
Senator Leland Yee
My name is Lorenzo Reyna. I am a Registered Nursing major at the University of San Francisco. I transferred to USF from Hartnell Community College, and after living in a small town for so long I am enjoying the city life. My political interests include helping underrepresented minorities achieve influence and status in society. As the first in my family to go to college, I have experienced first hand the challenges faced by others who want to get a college education. I’d like to work with undocumented/underprivileged minorities and figure out how we can open up opportunities for them and how we can make access to college and financial aid easier. My main goals for the future are numerous. Two of the biggest are politics and healthcare. One day I’d like to run for office; maybe as an assemblyman or state senator, and then one day Congress. However this is a long-term goal that will take a few decades to plan out. My biggest goal is to open up a non-profit clinic back in my hometown of Salinas. Access to medical care for a good majority of the population is non-existent due to not only the cost, but the fact that so many of the residents are undocumented. The biggest objective I want to accomplish from this summer internship is, for the lack of a better word, power. Coming from a small town like Salinas, there wasn’t really any access to influence or the ability to change things. The chance to be at intern at the State Capitol will not only provide me with insight on how people in power operate and go about their business, but also let me network and meet people that will help me realize my goals and plans for the future.

Anthony Risucci, Politics, Junior
Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
I was made to be in the middle of things. I grew up in the bright lights of Las Vegas, where my close family has lived my entire life. My favorite sport has always been baseball and I played it up through high school; always being positioned in the middle of the field, whether it was at second base, shortstop, or centerfield. I was known for my quickness in the field, but when it came time to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I felt unbelievably sluggish. All of that changed my senior year of high school with my AP U.S. Government class. Learning about the Constitution and reading about influential thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke absolutely fascinated me. Of course, I followed those interests and chose to attend the University of San Francisco for my undergraduate degree. I have flourished there thanks to the campus being in the heart of one of the most politically aware cities in the world. Through the university, I was able to enrich my politics degree and study at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England. There I lived in the center of Oxford, surrounded by buildings where Locke and Hobbes used their writings to change how the world viewed politics forever. The more I have learned, the more I have felt that I am destined to be right in the thick of the political world. As a student who loves to learn, educational policies have always been one of my most prevalent political interests or issue areas. I attended public school K-13 in Las Vegas and I have seen my home state continually cut funding for schooling; California certainly has a similar dilemma. Now, as I get ready to work in Sacramento, I am excited to be in the middle of the place where all of California’s decisions are made. I hope to use this fellowship to gain hands-on experience with the legislative process as I get ready to pursue a career in either the legal profession or another related public policy field.

Ruth Welland, Politics, Junior
Senate Office of Research
My name is Ruth Welland and I was born in the Bay Area and raised in Sacramento, California. After an overwhelming battle with Type I diabetes and no health insurance, the complications of this disease resulted in my vision loss, neuropathy and renal failure in 2003. Poor health caused my muscles to atrophy and I became wheelchair bound for two years and wore braces for six. Determined to wear high heels again, I endured the rigors of physical therapy and weekly visits to Easter Seal. Despite my insurmountable obstacles, I managed to teach myself braille while waiting to attend blind school. After starting dialysis in 2006, I registered at Sacramento City College with a musical focus. I temporarily withdrew from classes as the intensity of my treatments increased, but I never stopped volunteering throughout the community. On July 1, 2008, my dream of performing the National Anthem came true before thousands at Arco Arena. Then three weeks later I received the miracle of a kidney\pancreas transplant. I returned to community college, piloted an advocacy organization for students with disabilities and graduated a Phi Theta Kappa member in 2012. I am now attending the University of San Francisco as a political science major\economics minor. I just completed an amazing internship in Senate Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg’s district office while continuing my advocacy efforts in legislation for disability rights. I am eager to gain knowledge on the mechanics of legislation at the Capitol this summer as a McCarthy Fellow. I will be studying abroad in Europe next spring and plan to be accepted as a fellow in DC next summer. My long term goal is to attend law school and return to Sacramento to work in legislation.

Jeno Wilkinson, Politics, Junior
Assembly member Steven Bradford
My name is Jeno Wilkinson and I’m 21 years old. I’m a San Francisco native and I have attended Archbishop Riordan High School and City College of San Francisco before USF. I’m the youngest of three brothers, my dad is a construction worker and my mom is a preschool teacher. My interest areas are economic development, education and certain environmental issues. My career goals are to work for an elected official. I hope to achieve a greater understanding for what goes into the legislative process before a bill arrives on the floor. I also hope to gain office experience since this will be my first job in an professional office setting.

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.