“It was a life-changing experience,” said Amanda Martinez, a junior majoring in political science with a minor in economics, who just returned from a semester in Washington, D.C., as part of the prestigious Panetta Congressional Internship Program.
The Congressional Internship Program is an opportunity for 26 select students — from various California State University campuses, Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College and Santa Clara University — to experience the legislative process in Washington, D.C. while developing career-related skills and expanding their professional networks.
Martinez spent the fall semester working in the office of U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-California), taking constituents on Capitol tours, supporting the staff, writing constituent letters and assisting with legislative staff research.
“Every day was like a dream,” she said. “I never thought I’d get an opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital. I remember walking around the Capitol and saying to myself, ‘I can’t believe this is where I work.’ I was so proud to work in the Capitol, where our democracy started and continues.”
During her time there, Martinez also got to meet with former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, former Senate Majority Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
“I saw how budget meetings work. I got to see the Pope during his visit. I saw John Boehner resign and Paul Ryan assume the Speaker of the House role. It was just an incredible experience all around,” said the Fullerton resident.
Following her graduation, Martinez hopes to pursue a career in international relations or in national security working at the Department of Defense or the State Department.
“I can see myself as a foreign service officer,” she said.
“What’s so great about this program is that college students often don’t have the opportunity to receive this kind of experience. And yet, here I was. I gained so much knowledge and my passion for politics was reaffirmed. I am so grateful for that.”
Students interested in applying for the Panetta Scholarship can do so by picking up an application in Room 630 of Langsdorf Hall. The deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 5. For more information, contact Victor Rojas.