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DC Scholars Capitalize on a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Experience

10 Students Explore Public Service Careers in Washington, D.C.
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Cal State Fullerton student Leah Milhander dreams of becoming a U.S. ambassador to another country. She also sees herself working for the State Department or the Peace Corps.

When she learned about the Cal State DC Scholars program, which has given hundreds of Titans access to the nation’s capital since 2006, she jumped at the chance to explore her interest in international relations.

One of 10 students interning in Washington, D.C., this spring, the political science major spends her weekdays with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The committee is chaired by CSUF alumnus U.S. Rep. Ed Royce ’77 (B.A. business administration-accounting).

“One lesson I would take away from this experience is to be eager for any opportunity that comes your way and take it,” said Milhander, whose daily tasks include collecting press clips, collating information about pending projects or bills, conducting research and answering constituent calls.

“It is important to make connections with anyone and everyone,” said Milhander. “That means going to receptions on Capitol Hill, or reaching out to people to get coffee and ask about their jobs and how they got there.”

Esmeralda Orozco, a political science and public administration major, hopes her semester in D.C. will help her determine if she wants to pursue a master’s degree or a law degree.

As an intern in U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ office, Orozco provides assistance to legislative staff such as responding to constituent calls and mail, greeting visitors, conducting research, and attending hearings and briefings.

Describing the DC Scholars program as a “once in a lifetime experience,” Orozco has appreciated the opportunity to deepen her understanding of key policy issues.

“I have been working on projects that consist of researching immigration and women’s rights issues, which I am incredibly interested in,” said Orozco. “My ultimate goal is to have a career where I can provide assistance to those in need.”

The complete list of Cal State Fullerton’s spring DC Scholars, their cities of residence, majors and internship sites:

  • Oralia Aldaco of Santa Ana, criminal justice major, U.S. Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA)
  • Jacqueline Camuy of Corona, political science major, U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
  • Vincent Gonzalez of Riverside, history major, U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
  • Michael Guzman of Tustin, health science major, House Democratic Caucus
  • Leah Milhander of Placentia, political science major, House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Joseph Morales of San Juan Capistrano, criminal justice major, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
  • Esmeralda Orozco of Fullerton, political science and public administration major, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Elizabeth Rojo of Anaheim, political science major, U.S. Department of the Interior – Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
  • Peter Rossi of Costa Mesa, political science major, Patriotic Millionaires
  • Marco Sanchez of La Habra, political science and international politics major, United Nations Foundation

Visit the DC Scholars website for more information about the program.