The University of California launches the Presidential Public Service Fellowship program

The University of California today (Feb. 18) announced the creation of the Presidential Public Service Fellowship program, aimed at encouraging more undergraduate students to apply for public service internships in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.

“Our goal is to catalyze student interest in public service careers,” University of California President Janet Napolitano said in announcing the fellowship program. “There are few callings that are as essential to a healthy democracy ­as a career in public service.”

The fellowships will provide $2,500 in need-based financial support to select students who apply for and are accepted into the internship programs run by either the UC Washington Program (UCDC) or the UC Center Sacramento (UCCS). Anyone accepted into either program is eligible to apply for a fellowship.

Nearly 1,000 undergraduate students participate in internships through UCDC and UCCS each year, gaining firsthand exposure to the American political process and attaining valuable work experience. For many it is also their first taste of what a career in the public arena could be like.

Most internship costs are covered through regular tuition and fees. But students often face incidental expenses, such as travel and the cost of appropriate business attire.

The Public Service Fellowships will help ensure that those kinds of expenses are not a barrier to student participation, UC officials said. Students who are selected for the fellowships will receive $2,500 in financial support for costs related to participating in UCDC and UCCS programs.

UC will choose three students per undergraduate campus: two UCDC participants and one UCCS participant, or 27 students in all. Fellows will be chosen based on financial need, along with a demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and service for the public good.

The first group of fellows will be selected later this spring, in time for a fall 2016 internship. The deadline to apply for a fall 2016 UCDC internship varies by campus, with some applications due by the end of February, so interested students are encouraged to apply right away. The application period for a fall internship with UCCS closes in early May.

Napolitano encouraged undergraduates from across the UC system to consider applying. The UCDC and UCCS programs are open to all students, regardless of major.

“A public service internship can be a life-changing experience,” said Napolitano, who was herself a Truman Scholar, awarded to undergraduates aiming for public service. “It can also be the start of a long and rewarding career that really makes a difference in the world.”

About the Washington and Sacramento programs:

Both programs offer a full quarter or semester’s worth of academic credit for student internships, coupled with a weekly seminar and other electives. Internship opportunities vary widely: Students may work alongside elected officials, in state or federal agencies, with advocacy groups, scientific organizations, public relations firms or the news media.