Cal-in-Sac Student Director Named a UC Presidential Public Service Fellow

Laura Jessica Douglas
June 23, 2016

Cal-in-Sacramento Student Director Laura Jessica Douglas has been named an inaugural UC Presidential Public Service fellow. She is one of three recipients from UC Berkeley. University of California President Janet Napolitano awarded fellowships to 27 undergraduates from across the UC system who will participate in public service internships this coming fall in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento. Napolitano, who was herself a Truman Scholar, created the Presidential Public Service Fellowship program in February 2016 to spur student interest in public service careers, and to ensure that cost was not a barrier to student participation in federal or state internships.

Students from each of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses were selected for the Presidential Public Service Fellowships following a competitive application process. Fellows were selected based on a demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and public service. They will each receive a $2,500 stipend to offset incidental costs related to public service internships through the UC Washington Center (UCDC) or the UC Center Sacramento (UCCS).

"As a low income and independent student, I never thought I could afford to study in a place like Washington, D.C.," said Douglas. "I am grateful that UC President Napolitano recognized the disparity in access to these types of opportunities as well as their value to our professional and academic development. I hope to intern at the United States Department of Justice and use this experience as a stepping stone to becoming the first lawyer in my family."

Cal-in-Sacramento is the largest fellowship program run by the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at UC Berkeley. It sends approximately 30 students to Sacramento every summer to work for eight weeks in Sacramento internships in the offices of Senate and Assembly members, the governor's office, state agencies, or nonprofit groups. The program provides free housing for students and covers the cost of transportation.

As Student Director, Douglas has focused on program outreach and experiential quality. Her goal is to ensure that program participants benefit from the professional knowledge and networks gained from participating in the program. Last year as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow, Douglas interned for Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. This year as Student Director, she is working as the Paralegal Intern in the Office of the Federal Defender of the Eastern District. 

"Part of what makes Cal-in-Sacramento great is the experience of growing with a cohort of highly qualified and diverse individuals," Douglas said. "Cal-in- Sacramento truly changes lives. It has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual, professionally and academically. It has given me invaluable networks, work experience, and memories that have transformed my experience and focus at Cal."