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California Impact

Political Science Student Selected for Congressional Internship in D.C.: 'I Am Thrilled And Grateful.'

A dark-haired woman in a black suit jacket is seen in portrait from the shoulders up in front of a natural looking green background.
Written By Keegan Koberl

Desiree Nunes, a third-year political science major from Fremont, California, will serve as Cal Poly’s 2021 representative to the Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program.

After a two-week training period at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay, she will work in the capitol office of a California congressional representative in Washington, D.C., for 11 weeks in the fall.

"Ultimately, I know that I want to work in the intersection of law and government, and I can't think of any better way to gain experience toward this goal than learning from the leaders in Congress themselves through the Panetta Institute," said Nunes. "I've appreciated my previous education about the effects of legislation through my courses and work experience, and I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to see these policies develop at the federal level."

Nunes’s previous experience includes working with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group as a member and investor relations coordinator, a legal assistant at a local law firm, and an organizer for the 2020 Dawn Addis Assembly campaign. Nunes also served as a research assistant for Jean Williams, professor of political science at Cal Poly, to explore the influences and emerging patterns of anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Cal Poly, Nunes is captain of the Cal Poly Mock Trial team, president of the Phi Alpha Delta professional law fraternity and editor of Paideia, a political science journal. She plans to graduate from Cal Poly in June 2022 and attend law school following a gap year.

Nunes is the 21st Cal Poly student to participate in the Panetta Institute program since 2001. She is among 25 participants this year, nominated by the presidents of Cal Poly and 21 other CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California, and Santa Clara University.

The program is open to all academic majors and is recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation because of the rigorous training it provides.

The Panetta Institute covers program costs, including course registration fees, campus services during orientation, air travel and housing in Washington, D.C. By covering these expenses, the institute can make the program available to interns from all socioeconomic levels. Cal Poly awardees are supported in part through the Ed and Jan Slevin Congressional Internship Endowment.