CSUB student is Panetta intern

October 5, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

Halley Gardner, a student majoring in environmental resource management at California State University, Bakersfield, is one of 24 college students working in California congressional delegation members' offices this fall, sponsored by the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

Gardner will spend 2-1/2 months in Washington, D.C. Before leaving, she attended an intensive two-week course at the Panetta Institute that provided her with training on how to work effectively in a congressional office.

CSUB professors Aaron Hegde and Chandra Commuri nominated Gardner to participate in this short internship program this fall. A Bakersfield resident, Gardner is a junior at CSUB who expects to graduate in 2008.

Hegde, director of the environmental resource management program, said, "With a GPA of 3.73, Halley is one of our top students. She is a transfer student from UCLA who has always been concerned with environmental issues. She has worked as a tour guide for school children as well as in a natural science museum; besides that she is actively involved in the ERM student club as a secretary and fundraising volunteer."

Other professors at CSUB's environmental resource department agreed with Hegde, in saying that Gardner is a bright and responsible student who deserves this experience in Washington.

The presidents of the CSU campuses, as well as the presidents of Santa Clara University and Dominican University of California, selected all students involved in the Congressional Internship Program for their exemplary scholastic achievements as well as their interest in politics.

Purpose of the program, founded by Leon and Sylvia Panetta, is to give students a hands-on experience on how American democracy operates.

"Direct exposure to our democracy is the best chance at inspiring young people to become active participants in our government," Leon Panetta said. "At a time when our nation faces so many challenges, it is vital that we prepare the next generation for responsible leadership."

The faculty participating in the two-week orientation course were Leon and Sylvia Panetta themselves as well as a Panetta Institute professor and former Panetta Institute interns.

Also current and former members of Congress, congressional legislative and administrative assistants, the House Parliamentarian, former White House staff, a national campaign and communications consultant, a national reporter who covers Washington and domestic and foreign policy experts participated during these two intensive weeks of course-taking.

"There's just no substitute for this kind of firsthand experience," said Panetta, "and we've had great cooperation from our members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats in working with our students."

While in Washington, Gardner will attend regular seminars with key administrative personnel on different aspects of government policy, ranging from economics to the environment and foreign affairs to defense resources.

Examples of speakers participating in these seminars are former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta; Ambassador Dennis Ross; U.S. senators, and former and current U.S. representatives.

The program concludes on Friday, Dec. 7. Each student will receive 20 academic credits upon successful completion of the internship program.

The Panetta Institute pays for the entire program and provides the interns with a stipend during their stay in Washington, D.C. Support for the program was provided by both the Chancellor of the CSU system, Trustees of the Panetta Institute, as well as public and private donations.

For more information, please call the Panetta Institute at (831) 582-4200.