California State University, Bakersfield senior Tiara Cox has joined 23 other students to participate in the seventh annual Congressional Internship Program, a public service experience created and sponsored by the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy.
These students were chosen by university presidents from throughout the CSU system, as well as Santa Clara and Dominican universities, for their exemplary scholastic achievements as well as their interest in politics.
“I’m really glad I’m here,” Cox said. “I’m constantly being challenged.
It’s not going to be easy but I feel like this is my calling.” The double political science and communications major just wrapped up an intensive two-week orientation at the Panetta Institute in Monterey Bay and has started a 10-week internship with U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, in Washington, D.C.
“The purpose of this unique intern program is to give young students the opportunity to personally see democracy in action in Washington,” said Leon Panetta, director of the Panetta Institute. “The program trains the students for the challenges and assignments of their work in the Congress.”
The two-week orientation provides classes on many topics including the legislative and administrative structures of a congressional office, the role of an intern, key California issues, and the role of the press and White House relations with Congress.
The course is taught by the Panettas along with former members of Congress, congressional legislative and administrative assistants, the House Parliamentarian, former White House staff, a campaign and communication consultant, national reporters who have covered Washington, former Panetta Institute interns, and Panetta Institute staff.
In Washington, D.C., the students are assigned to the office of a member of Congress from California. In addition, they will attend weekly seminars with key administration personnel on different aspects of government policy, ranging from economics to the environment and foreign affairs to defense resources. The program concludes in mid-December.
Some CSUB faculty are thrilled Cox will have this experience. “I adore her,” said Michael Flachmann, CSUB English professor and director of the Helen Louise Hawk Honors Program. “She is one of the brightest students I have ever had. From the moment I met her I knew this lady would be going places.”
Even though Cox doesn’t have her future mapped out just yet; she knows where she’s headed. “I know I would like to be a professor eventually,”
she said. “I want to be a member of an interest group, a lobbyist, or maybe on some campaign as chief of staff. My passion is for helping people.”
The Panetta Institute pays for the entire program and provides the interns with a stipend during their stay in Washington, making the course available to students from all economic backgrounds. Support for the program was received from both CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed and trustees of the Panetta Institute.
Each student will receive 20 academic credits upon successful completion of the internship program.
The Panetta Institute for Public Policy was established in 1998 by the Panettas, and serves as a bipartisan study center to enhance public policy and to attract thoughtful men and women to lives of public service.
For more information about the Congressional Internship Program, please contact the Panetta Institute at (831) 582-4200 or log onto www.panettainstitute.org.