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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
Intern program puts CAMP students in capitol
California’s Capital University, CSUS has long been a place where students
can get practical experience in government while they’re earning a degree.
CSUS students Evelin Zepeda (left), Juan Mendoza
and Alma Prado had political internships their freshmen year through CAMP.
a group of freshmen from the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program
are getting into the act. Through a new program started last year called CAMP
Scholars, the students are working at internships in the Legislature, district
Congressional offices and non-profit organizations.
The students work about 15 hours a week and receive a $2,500 scholarship at
the end of their service. There will be 40 CAMP Scholars this year, up from
14 in its first year, and some will be placed with businesses as well.
“I had thought about politics some before I started this, but now I’m
much more interested,” says Claudia Ramos of Watsonville. She spent her
first year of college last year interning at the State Capitol in the offices
of Assemblyman Simon Salinas. “I really realize now how much the bills
being considered can affect me.”
For Monica Velazquez of Arbuckle, and Juan Mendoza of French Camp, the program
was a chance to really understand the adage that “all politics is local.”
Velazquez worked in the district offices of Congressman Doug Ose and Mendoza
worked in the district offices of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. Their work included
answering constituent calls and letters, going to community events and searching
for media coverage.
Jessica Ramirez of Yuba City, meanwhile, got some practical advice for a future
career as a lawyer. She has interned in the offices of attorney Omar Gonzalez.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be a lawyer,” Ramirez says.
“Gonzalez has taught me a lot that isn’t taught in law school –
communicating with clients, being polite, seeing different perspectives. It
has been a really good experience.”
Students also worked for the United Farmworkers Union, Univision, the State
Firefighter Association – even in the offices of past CSUS Associated
Students President Eric Guerra.
“I want these students to understand they can help the overall community
– to know they can be leaders,” says Marcos Sanchez, director of
CAMP. “Whatever they learn about politics directly is a plus, but not
the main purpose, which is just teaching them that they can be leaders.”
CAMP is a federally funded program that helps first-year students from migrant
and seasonal farm worker backgrounds succeed in college. It offers about 80
students each year such services as assistance with housing, academic advising,
tutoring – and now, an internship program that helps financially.
“I’ve had this in mind for a long time,” Sanchez says. “It
has just been a matter of finding the funding.”
The financial breakthrough needed to start CAMP Scholars came from the employees
of EdFund and the Hispanic Scholarship Program.
Sanchez convinced EdFund employees of the value of the program he was proposing.
They then decided to commit $15,000 from their spring golf tournament fund-raiser
to the cause, and the Hispanic Scholarship Program provided two-to-one matching
This year, the EdFund employees are doubling their donation, which will lead
to a doubled contribution from the Hispanic Scholarship Program as well. That
will allow CAMP to offer the internships to about 40 students.
CAMP Scholars is just the latest CSUS program to take advantage of the University’s
location in the state capital. Among others are the competitive Capital Fellows
Program, which places more than 60 graduate students in paid staff positions
in state government, and the Sacramento Semester Program, which offers undergraduate
internships in government.
Sanchez says he expects the CAMP Scholars program to get more students excited
about opportunities in politics, and become a bridge to one of the other programs.
More information is available by contacting CAMP at 278-7241 or visiting www.csus.edu/camp.
California State University, Sacramento Public Affairs
6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 (916) 278-6156