Aspiring Change Agent Selected for Panetta Congressional Internship


For Valerie Marquez, perusing the Cal Poly Pomona website at just the right moment turned into an opportunity.
The junior, who is majoring in philosophy, was internet surfing when she found information about The Panetta Institute Congressional Internship.  It was Feb. 1, and the deadline to apply was Feb. 9.
She scrambled to craft a personal statement and get two letters of recommendation from her professors. She did initial interviews on campus and then traveled to CSU Monterey Bay for a final round.
The resident advisor at Aliso Hall recalls sitting in her room when she got an email from her department offering congratulations.
“It was an amazing experience to even interview at all,” she said. “When I got the email, it kind of took me by surprise. I called all my friends, and I told them that I had been traveling for interviews for the internship and I got it. And then I started crying.”
The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, which is located in Monterey, selects a CSU student from each of the 23 campuses every year for an intensive two-week training course on how the U.S. Congress operates. Then, the students head to Washington, D.C., for 11 weeks to serve on the staff of a California member in the House of Representatives. The internship is fully funded and interns receive a stipend and college credits.
Marquez, who does not know which member of Congress she has been assigned to, heads for Capitol Hill on Aug. 10.
It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for the Lynwood native who once was unsure if she would be able to attend college.
While the first-generation college student had the grades, her family told her when she was a teen that they could not afford to send her to college. Her high school counselor told Marquez that college was the path she should take …

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