Jeff Bongga, a second-year Cal State San Bernardino student double majoring in political science and geography and environmental sciences, has been selected by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy to serve in its prestigious congressional internship program this summer and fall.

A Rancho Cucamonga resident, Bongga will join students from the California State University’s other 22 campuses along with one student each from the Dominican University of California in San Rafael; Santa Clara University; and Saint Mary’s College of California to participate in the Panetta Institute’s internship program at Cal State Monterrey Bay, where they will eventually be sent to Washington, D.C., to closely work with a designated member of the California congressional delegation.

Bongga said he was excited about the internship program because of his interest in national and international issues.

“I like being caught up in relevant issues of today, especially internationally,” said Bongga, who is also a member of the university’s award-winning Model United Nations team. He and fellow team member Cristina Sedano (majoring in environmental studies) were honored in March at the Model UN Conference in New York City with one of the 20 Outstanding Position Paper Awards, which recognizes preconference preparation. Bongga and Sedano earned their award in the UN Environment Assembly committee.

The experience of being on the team and working with CSUSB Model UN director, professor Kevin Grisham, has also furthered Bongga’s interest in international affairs.

“With the Model UN and the courses that I take, I see the importance of being aware and being a good global citizen,” he said.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Bongga wants to work for a non-governmental organization or serve in the Peace Corps for two years, then go to graduate school and ultimately work for the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer.

Bongga said he has been fascinated by national and international issues since he was child, when he would watch news programs. That interest continued through his school years and ultimately after he graduated from high school and wanted to attend Cal State San Bernardino.

“I love it here. I came here after applying to the political science department, knowing that the professors are doing research in fields that I am interested in,” Bongga said.

To help in his transition, Bongga also joined the CSUSB Honors Program.

“The university’s honors program helped me transition into school, which helped me be a good student on this campus, and be an active student,” Bongga said.

As a Panetta intern, Bongga will join the other 25 participating students for the Panetta Congressional Internship Program beginning in mid-August, with an intensive two-week course at the institute and continuing with an 11-week internship program in Washington, D.C., through mid-November. While there, the students will attend seminars with government leaders, journalists and policy experts. In addition, the interns may earn up to 20 academic credits after they submit a 20-page research paper and a journal of their experiences.

The internships’ goal is for students to learn about policy, practice and procedures of the United States Congress. This year marks the 20th year of the celebrated program, recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation.

Founded in 1997 by Leon Panetta, who served U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. congressman among other posts, and his wife, Sylvia, the Panetta Institute serves the entire California State University system plus several other schools. Under the direction of the Panettas, the institute provides a variety of study opportunities in government, politics and public policy, and sponsors a range of other programs.

Panetta interns must be junior or senior status during their internship, not yet applied for graduation, have demonstrated commitment to community and public service, and exhibited superior academic achievement and leadership.

Interns are nominated by the presidents of the 23 CSU campuses, as well as the Dominican University of California and Santa Clara University, and approved for participation by the Panetta Institute and a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

For more information, visit the Panetta Institute website at

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit