Meet Our Alumni

Sammy Moore

Internship: The Human Rights Campaign

Term of Participation: Fall 2022

What did you learn about your field of interest or the professional workspace?

I was the policy and political affairs intern, so I tracked pro-equality legislation and worked with media response to LGBTQ+ legislation. It was amazing to see a bill that I had worked on since it reached the Senate floor get passed on my last day!

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I think that my internship has made me more open to working before going to grad school than I was before. I also became much more aware of domestic politics. I am now much more invested, and understand how the US is run a little better, which makes me more willing to work in the domestic sphere than I was before.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

I got to see Joe Biden speak three times and Kamala Harris twice! Right before the midterm election, I got to see Joe Biden speak in a tiny room in Union Station while representing HRC. It was a truly amazing experience, getting to be so close to the president, as well as hearing him speak so urgently about the future of America. I also got to meet the new president of HRC, Kelley Robinson.

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

Yes, I was able to connect with a lot of people who work in international politics and will let me know about job opportunities before they are publicly posted!

What advice do you have for future students?

Don’t be afraid to network!


Gilli Weinstein

Internship: Hope Foundation Reentry Network and Office of Congressman Scott Peters

Term of Participation: Spring 2022

What was your role during the internship?

Hope Foundation– worked on a workbook to be distributed in jails/prisons and a presentation of the workbook, contributed to a twice weekly group discussion of resources for formerly incarcerated people– most rewarding was meeting the people we were providing these services to and hearing their stories and how the Hope Foundation has changed their lives

Office of Rep. Scott Peters– daily news clips, voting summaries, memos on policy issues, attend briefings and hearings, helped write a one-pager for a new bill to be introduced and working on the bill introduction/reaching out to possible co-sponsors, recommend cosponsoring certain bills after conducting bill research– most rewarding has been to learn about all these different issues in briefings and coming to debrief them with the staff so they can contribute to legislative solutions

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I now know I do not want to work in Congress haha, but I am grateful for the experience because it taught me a lot and allowed me to understand the true inter-workings of politics, which has now shifted my career goals towards more legal realms, or perhaps local politics, or just non-profit advocacy groups.  

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

One of the meetings for the Hope Foundation hosted Halim Flowers as a speaker. His story of being sentenced to life at the age of 16 in DC was told through the documentary “Thug Life in DC.” Hearing him share his story and how he took the initiative to change his life was very inspiring, and the comments the other formerly incarcerated participants made reflected how powerful his story is for people who were in his situation. 

Did your internship lead to any opportunities? 

I will be staying on remotely with the Hope Foundation during the summer.

Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.

I went to the 25th anniversary of the FDR memorial statue which clearly depicts his wheelchair, and former Senator Tom Harkin spoke about his connection to FDR, alongside disability rights organizations and it was a great experience. 

How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?

This time in DC has allowed me to reflect on my goals in life and reconsider what I want to accomplish in life. I feel like I have gained a lot of independence from this experience as well, taking time to explore the city by myself.

What advice do you have for future students?

When you are looking for internships, you might be able to start out being selective but at a certain point you might just need to take what is offered. If this is the case, do not get discouraged because any internship you get will provide you with a learning experience– either an experience that teaches you what you don’t want to do in life or something that you might want to do. Also take advantage of your free time and do everything you can in the city, and if your friends have other plans that you don’t really want to do, you can always go do things by yourself! Make sure you have a list of things YOU want to do with your time and do them.


Sullivan Gaudreault

Internship: The Syrian Emergency Task Force

Term of Participation: Fall 2022

Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?

My internship was beyond amazing. I was my non-profit’s communications/marketing director/video/photo content creator. I wore a lot of hats because it’s on the smaller side, but that also meant I learned skills in a lot of different fields. 

One week I would be in Arkansas filming fundraising and advocacy events, the next I’d be in DC meeting high-level officials. 

I traveled a lot for this internship, I went to Arkansas, upstate NY, NYC twice, and then Istanbul, Turkey for a week to film our projects there. I was doing a lot of social media content creation, TikTok and reels, MailChimp newsletters, and promotional videos played at bigger events. I even created videos that were played at UN sessions. I found working toward the goal of freeing innocent civilians from the Syrian Government really rewarding. Using my skills and expertise to do good and help others is the best feeling. 

Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?

Oh certainly. Before DC I was going to work for the Innocence Project, doing media creation. Now, I’m moving to DC and working for the Syrian Emergency Task Force full-time in June, and will never look back. 

I’ve learned this line of work is key to my happiness, fulfillment, and growth as a professional filmmaker. 

Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, or someone you met.

The movie director M. Night Shyamalan is a big donor to our organization and every year he hosts a big Halloween fundraising event. I got to go last minute when I was in DC. Some coworkers and I drove to Philly and I got to party it up with M. Night and meet him. The whole party was the actual set of his TV show The Servant too.

Did your internship lead to any opportunities? 

Absolutely. I have so many different job opportunities in DC now. My boss and my organization are so well connected. Staying with them will help me create an insane network, but can also lead to new job possibilities. For example, I just got hired by the Swedish embassy to create a video for them and they’re flying me to DC all next week to do it. I got this through a connection from my internship. CRAZY

Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.

Alexandria was really cool! I honestly was working so much that I didn’t have much time to go to events. I will say there are just so many different neighborhoods and places to explore in DC that I didn’t have the time to explore places and events deeper.  Sorry :/

How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?

It completely changed how I view politics and the world as a whole. It has widened my perspective on life, privilege, and how I can best use my skills to help others. My time in DC was life-changing and a time in my life I will never forget. 

Do you have any advice for future UCDC students?

Make as many friends as possible, connect, and work with as many people as you can, because these will be your colleagues and professional network in no time.


Tanner Rowland

Internship: The Office of Chairman Pete Aguilar

Term of Participation: Fall 2022

What was your role during the internship?

I served as a congressional intern in the Office of Chairman Aguilar in the U.S. House of Representatives. In this role, I attended in-person and virtual briefings which focused on an array of policy areas. I was introduced to how policy-writing works, I aided the staffers with legislative research, and I answered constituent phone calls. Making a difference by helping constituents with their requests, and listening to their perspective on modern-day political issues was a very rewarding experience. It was an honor to serve my direct community, the Inland Empire, through this internship experience.

How did your internship influence your career goals?

My career goals remain the same. While I do not know exactly what I want to do yet, I am passionate about the election process, voter rights, and election mechanics. I hope to be a force in my future endeavors toward ensuring fair elections that encourage widespread participation. Democracy is sacred, and I care deeply about maintaining its strength in our elections process despite attempts to undermine it. 

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

Chairman Aguilar served on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. I had the unexpected and incredible opportunity to sit in on the Select Committee’s ninth hearing, in which they unanimously voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump to testify. This is an experience I will never forget — being in the room, witnessing American history take place before me. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity. 

Did your internship lead to any opportunities? 

This internship expanded my network of mentors and peers on the Hill. I am so fortunate for the connections I made during my time there. 

Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.

I had the opportunity to visit the National Archives Museum, where I saw the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. I went with some of my peers from the UCDC program and we had an incredible time! 

How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?

Living in the nation’s capital helped develop my personal perspective on American politics. The trajectory of many modern political issues can sometimes feel disheartening and discouraging. However, being in D.C., witnessing how lively and engaged people are in making positive change was inspiring and motivating. I was reminded that change can happen, and that I can help contribute to it. It made me even more inspired to pursue a career in elections to strengthen and expand the rights of others.  

What advice do you have for future students?

Get out and explore! There is so much to see in Washington, and much of it is free. D.C. is full of history and life, go out and check it out!


Chloe Mietzel

Internship: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Term of Participation: Fall 2019

What was your role during the internship?

As JDRF’s government affairs intern, I researched health policy, attended meetings with Congressmen and legislative assistants, and went to briefings on Capitol Hill. My favorite part of my internship was volunteering at the JDRF Hope Gala that took place in the National Building Museum. Over a million dollars was raised in total which really made me feel like I was a part of something instrumental in eventually finding a cure. I found this work rewarding because I am a type one diabetic, so everything I did had personal importance as well as helping others with the same disease. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I’ve decided that I want to move to D.C. while I take a gap year before attending law school. Afterward, I plan on pursuing a career in government affairs.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

One of my roommates, from UCSB, worked in Speaker Pelosi’s office so she was able to take me out onto the Speaker’s Balcony. It was an empowering experience.

I also remember the night the Washington Nationals won the World Series. I went out to Navy Yard (by the stadium) to watch the game. I will never forget the cheering, team spirit, and overall happiness everyone felt at that moment. 

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

I made so many new friends and connections from around the United States that have led me to different opportunities and resources that truly would not have been possible without the help of this program.

What advice do you have for future students?

Do everything you can. Take the metro outside of D.C., walk to the National Mall, explore. Don’t be afraid to NETWORK; professionals love to talk about themselves. Overall, use this time to find yourself.


Meggie Nguyen

Internship: Senator Dianne Feinstein

Term of Participation: Fall 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I was a legislative intern. I attended briefings and hearings on behalf of my senior staffers and aided them in drafts of letters and research for their policy portfolios.

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I have always wanted to be in policymaking, so this solidified my plan.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

My favorite memories are passing Senator Warren and Sanders in the senate cafe and saying hi to congressman Lewis and Congresswoman Chu and the AOC.

I also had a medical issue at the end of my internship and had to end my internship a little sooner than expected but Senator Feinstein sent flowers to my hospital room in DC and back home in LA along with a holiday gift.

What advice do you have for future students?

Be as open as possible! Have personal business cards with you for networking events and always be ready to network no matter where you’re at.


Arianne Li

Internship: Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH)

Term of Participation: Fall 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I mainly performed clerical work, errands, and graphic design. I have a background in visual and digital arts so I got to handle promotional images on social media, email designs, graphic design for their conference, etc. Clerical work is useful in a professional workspace but getting to mess around with Photoshop for an internship is fun. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I can use my experience as a graphic designer as a backup plan if I don’t pursue a legal career. Thankfully, digital art is something I can do remotely. 

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

We had a Hill Day where members of CUGH went to various congressional offices to ask where their congresspeople stood on global health issues. I got to see Bernie Sanders’ and Nancy Pelosi’s offices.


Erin Carvalho

Internship: U.S. House of Representatives

Term of Participation: Spring 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I learned a lot about how the system of government works and what happens when you call your Congressperson. I also found it rewarding and educational to attend briefings. The majority of my job was dealing with constituents, either over the phone or in person. I was responsible for Capitol tours, constituent correspondence, etc. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

I hadn’t initially decided to pursue politics and now my career is geared towards public administration.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

I was able to meet a lot of high-level staffers in Congress by going to lots of different offices. 

One day, I had gotten out of class early and decided to attend the National Museum of African American History and Culture alone. The tickets were difficult to get, but past 2:00 p.m. they would let standby’s in. It was one of the most enriching and enlightening experiences of my life to see a history that I had only learned about in upper-division history courses be on display for public consuption.

How did living in Washington, D.C. change you?

I grew up in the suburbs, so making the transition to living in a metropolitan area was nerve-wracking. That being said, I had a wonderful time getting acclimated to the city and the public transit systems. It has helped guide my policy passions while looking for a job in government.

What advice do you have for future students?

It is important to know that finding the internship is up to you. Also, despite the websites claiming that you need to apply six months before an internship, most offices are taking interns on a quarterly basis, so be sure to send an email even if the deadline has passed.


Zoe Carrell

Internship: Justice Policy Institute

Term of Participation: Fall 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I analyzed policies, made policy briefs, spoke with other folks in the criminal justice reform field, corresponded with incarcerated people, and took notes in meetings. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

Since my time at the justice policy institute, I have become more set on prison abolition than prison reform. Additionally, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I want to do career-wise before my internship. I now have mixed feelings about working for a nonprofit and have determined that I am interested in teaching. I am not entirely sure where this interest came from. 

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

I got to travel to Baltimore to meet with family members of people incarcerated. They were really excited to meet with us and made us food. It was fantastic getting to hear from people directly impacted by the criminal justice system.

I also saw Ta-Nehisi Coates speak about his new book, The Water Dancer, at the Lincoln Theatre on U street.

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

I got to develop my own research speaking with trans folks in prison to learn about what issues they felt were being underemphasized by criminal justice reformers. 

How did living in Washington, D.C. change you?

It confirmed for me how much I love living in a city. It heightened my interest in museums. I also really enjoyed the bar scene.

What advice do you have for future students?

Go to the Monday night forums. Go to Rainbow Roundtable if you are queer! Check out as many free museums as you can, and don’t wait until the last week to do it. Bring clothes for very humid weather and very cold weather if you go in the fall. Sign up for the field trips early. Take advantage of the multiple types of public transportation! Take photos for the Photo of the Term contest. You will get a cool water bottle if you win.


Cole Fox

Internship: U.S. House of Representatives

Term of Participation: Spring 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I attended briefings for staff, drafted constituent response letters and cosponsor memos, gave Capitol tours, worked with office members on projects, answered phones, and completed other administrative tasks. I found working in a small, fast-paced office while learning how Congress works to be among the most rewarding aspects of my internship. I also found working with constituents to be very rewarding.

How did your internship influence your career goals?

Living and interning in D.C. opened my eyes to the East Coast. I ended up loving the city so much it influenced my decision to attend George Washington University for law school.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

Meeting the representative I was working for and discussing law school and the LSAT was exciting.

Attending the Cherry Blossom Festival and taking a White House Garden Tour were also special experiences.

How did living in Washington, D.C. change you?

I gained valuable workplace experience before graduating, made close long-term friends, and grew personally and professionally while living away from college in D.C.

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

One of my recommendation letters for law school was from the representative I interned for, which I imagine played some role in my acceptance to George Washington Law.

What advice do you have for future students?

Take advantage of networking events, mentorships, and other opportunities to gain experience networking. Don’t forget to have fun, explore the city, go to museums (they’re mostly free), and enjoy the city’s happy hours, nightlife, and other social events.


Grace Matthews

Internship: PEN America

Term of Participation: Winter 2019

What was your role during the internship?

I interned for PEN America, a writing/free speech NGO. The DC branch focuses on lobbying legislation related to free speech, especially anything concerning authors, journalists, etc. On a day-to-day basis, I helped write and edit emails, press releases, and articles, as well as compile research on legislation. The office’s goal was to build relationships with Congress members so I spent a lot of time researching which congresspeople would be interested in our work. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

As a writing major, I plan to pursue a non-political career. Originally, I hoped my work with PEN would deal directly with authors, so I was a little disappointed that it was so legislation-based. However, In hindsight, I am so glad I had the experience because it exposed me to a completely different side of the writing world. I got to learn what it’s like for authors who live in countries where their free speech is restricted. My eyes were opened to the many obstacles that journalists in our own country are currently facing. The internship reaffirmed my appreciation for my own work and made me have a much more holistic perspective on my overall goals as a writer and intellectual. 

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

I did not expect to be paying weekly visits to U.S. congressional offices. I sat in on congressional hearings, went to a conference with inspiring congresswomen as keynote speakers, and sat in a room with a handful of senators. Even for someone who isn’t aspiring to work in politics, it was an amazing experience to be right in the action of U.S. law-making. 

I spent almost every weekend at the national mall soaking up the museums. The botanical gardens were my favorite and a must, especially in the winter quarter when there wasn’t much sunshine or greenery otherwise. 

How did living in Washington, D.C. change you?

In a lot of ways, it opened my eyes to the issues of the U.S. political system. I began to understand that the legislation that shapes our society is largely influenced by selfish motivations from a variety of different entities. It was a bit of a culture shock to see how politics have been turned into such an “industry” in D.C. rather than an actual democratic process. I am now very wary of jumping on bandwagons when it comes to politics or social change because I have seen somewhat firsthand how things work on the congressional level. 

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

I developed strong connections with my internship supervisor and still stay in touch. This is an invaluable opportunity as now I have someone for letters of recommendation and mentorship whenever I need it.

What advice do you have for future students?

Be open to all opportunities your internship has to offer, even if they aren’t the experiences you were seeking or expected. I didn’t end up doing what I thought I would with my internship, but I still learned invaluable skills that I can put on my resume now.


Tanya Magana

Internship: MentorPrize

Term of Participation: Fall 2018

What was your role during the internship?

I worked as the Operations and Community Engagement intern for the youth-serving non-profit, MentorPrize. This organization partners with other organizations to recruit, train, and place quality mentors and similar volunteers based on the needs of each organization. 

How did your internship influence your career goals?

This position helped me familiarize myself with youth development and intervention efforts in the nation’s Capital. By meeting with partners and attending community events, I immersed myself in the city and often worked directly with youth and community members. Now, I work in D.C. and MentorPrize is one of my current job’s partners and continue to work with them. 

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

I helped plan and coordinate a fundraising event with an 80s theme. I learned how fun and creative development can be. With everything from youth performances to jello shots for guests, and a giant Pac-Man game machine, it was a lot of fun, and very successful!

Aside from interning, the East Coast has a lot of travel opportunities. NYC is four hours away, and I bought a $70 plane ticket to Boston, for example. Also, Shenandoah National Park is a two-hour drive away. 

How did living in Washington, D.C. change you?

I got an amazing, humbling, and insightful experience of how different life can be in other areas – but also how similar very different people can be. 

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

I was able to use my experience to obtain a job in D.C. right after graduation. 

What advice do you have for future students?

I would have a solid housing plan for your return, like the Village or on-campus. Also, buy your parking pass (if you need one) way before the summer, even if you pay for a quarter you won’t be there. My off-campus housing plans fell through during the fall, and it was a scary situation to be in, unfortunately.


Ann Mikhaela Punzalan

Internship: Flip the West, FOIA/Privacy Act Division at U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Term of Participation: Fall 2020

What did you learn about your field of interest or the professional workspace?

My internship at Flip the West involved mainly public policy work, so conducting a lot of civic engagement outreach like phone banking and educating voters through social media about the voting process as well as the significance of certain policies. My position at HHS was quite different since I was tasked with litigation research (reading through legal documents and interpreting them according to the FOIA statute). I found both experiences super rewarding in their own unique ways. With Flip the West, I shared some great conversations with our very diverse electorate and it was there that I truly learned the democratic value of communicating across boundaries. As for my time with HHS, the environment was fast-paced. I was surrounded by lots of experts who are very knowledgeable in my field of interest and I was able to gain insight into a prospective career in law.

How did your internship influence your career goals?

My internships offered me a preview of two very different career paths. I’m really glad to have experienced a bit of both because now I’m more informed of what kind of working environment I can see myself being successful in. I honestly enjoyed both, but now it’s become clear to me that I’m more drawn to a career that is more so based on research.

What is an exciting memory from your time in D.C.?

Although I can see myself in a fast-paced, professional environment, I really cherish the time I spent with Flip the West. I worked in a large internship program, where a lot of my peers were college students as well. We often had long shifts where we called unregistered voters who were out of state. The task was quite intimidating because it was very common to go through bad calls, but I had great support from my peers. We would call voters while on Zoom sharing our funny experiences with each other. It was a super humorous way to go about an otherwise scary task.

How was the remote internship a valuable experience? 

Although my internships were remote, I believe the experiences I gained were nonetheless very valuable. Offline or online, I learned that effective communication is very crucial to instill in your work ethic. In any type of office, you are working with a team, and tasks are delegated in a certain fashion to ensure that the overarching goal is accomplished efficiently. I feel like this is not something you really learn in an academic environment where you are able to do work individually.

What kind of opportunities did the internship lead to?

I am still currently working with HHS! They have offered to extend my stay at the department and now I have the opportunity to explore other internship programs.

What advice do you have for future students?

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. What seems like a major error does not mean that you have failed. Learn from those experiences in order to do better and succeed next time.