Campus: FULLERTON -- December 8, 2006

D.C. Internship Brings Lawmaking Alive for Political Science Major

M. Quin Hodges, a Cal State Fullerton student majoring in political science and Spanish, is interning in Washington, D.C., as part of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy internship program.

He is working in the office of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) through Dec. 8.

"I thought I understood the legislative process and how it works before I started this internship, but it's not so cut and dried like they explain in the classroom," the 24-year-old said. "It's a lot more involved, and I understand it a lot better now because I'm getting practical experience."

Hodges, of Riverside, is representing Cal State Fullerton as one of 25 interns in the program. As part of the internship, he is living at the Hawthorne Suites in Alexandria, Va. His lodging, breakfast and dinner meals are paid for by the institute, and he is receiving a $700-a-month stipend.

The president of each CSU campus, as well as the presidents of Santa Clara University and the Dominican University of California, chose one student for his or her scholastic achievements and interest in politics to participate in the program each fall. The institute has been hosting the interns for the past eight years.

As part of the internship, Hodges and the other interns spent two weeks in September at Cal State Monterey Bay, where the Panetta Institute is based. There, they participated in an intensive two-week training course on how to work effectively in a congressional office. As presenters at the institute, Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, was joined by Congress members, political consultants, lobbyists and newspaper editors. Following the training, each intern was assigned to work with a member of Congress.

"I'm getting a lot of opportunities to work with Congressman Sherman's legislative assistants," Hodges said. "I'm loving it."

For example, he said he worked closely with a legislative aide on recommending that Sherman support a bill that requires a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Sherman consequently supported AB-32, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the anti-global warming legislation in September.

Panetta and his wife, Sylvia, founded their institute to give students such hands-on experience.

"At a time when many students are turned off by politics, I believe this kind of Washington experience is the most effective way to inspire and educate our young people about the rewards and challenges of a career in public service," stated Panetta. "Because the Panetta Institute covers all costs of the program, it is open to students of all economic backgrounds."

Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, (714) 278-7586 or

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