Veronica Wilson, a Cal State San Bernardino political science major, was selected by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy to serve in its prestigious congressional internship, where she worked closely with the California congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. 

“This internship meant more to me than I could imagine,” said Wilson, who is on track to graduate in spring 2024. “I learned so much about myself, our government, and the world around me. I was able to make friendships that will last a lifetime and watch the events in our nation play out right before my eyes. Thanks to this internship, I understand our government so much more, and I understand the importance of bipartisanship and working together. If there is one thing I will take away from this internship, is the importance of being selfless and being able to work with others.”

Participants of the three-month internship, which lasted from August to November, are nominated by the president of each California State University campus, Saint Mary’s College of California, Santa Clara University and Dominican University of California. They are then interviewed and selected by the Panetta Institute.

Before working in Washington, D.C., interns first participate in the Panetta Institute’s two-week training program at Cal State Monterey Bay.

“Going into this internship, I had hoped to learn more about how government works. During my first two weeks at the Panetta Institute, I realized that a major issue our government and society faced was a need for bipartisanship,” Wilson said. “Taking that from the institute to Washington, D.C., I wanted to learn more about the lack of bipartisanship and how this affects our government. I gained so much knowledge from interacting with those in the office and the other 24 students around me.”

Following the training program, Panetta interns participate in an 11-week internship program in Washington, D.C., where they attend seminars with government leaders, journalists and policy experts. In addition, the interns may earn up to 20 academic credits.

“I learned so much just from being there on The Hill as an intern,” Wilson said, referring to Capitol Hill, where both houses of Congress meet. “It was so unique and sacred because The Hill is such a powerful place, and to be working on it, even as an intern, you have so much power because you learn so much, and knowledge is power. I looked forward to gaining so much knowledge from those around me and watching every event that conspired on The Hill.”

Wilson was in Washington during critical moments in the nation’s history, as well. “I looked forward to watching our nation's government unfold before my eyes and I witnessed key moments that will go down in our history books,” she recalled. “I had the opportunity to be working when there was the possibility of not one but two government shutdowns; when Hamas attacked Israel in a terrorist attack; when (former House Speaker) McCarthy was ousted; when Rep. Mike Johnson was elected House Speaker; when Rep. Rashida Tlaib was censured; and so much more. It was just a unique opportunity that blew my mind away.”

Wilson is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Theta Lota Chapter, a society that functions at the national level, sponsoring programs and events of value to the profession and teaching political science at the chapter level. Each chapter is encouraged to provide a framework for enriching the exposure of its members and the wider university community to the study of government and issues of public concern, Wilson said.

After graduating from CSUSB, Wilson plans to attend law school and study criminal law.

“I love the law so much, especially our government’s judicial process. I think it is so exciting, and many criminal law cases are intriguing to me. People get excited over Christmas presents or going to concerts; criminal law is my Christmas day. I cannot express my love for it,” she said.

About the Panetta Institute for Public Policy Internship  
Founded in 1997 by Leon Panetta, who served as 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.

The internships’ goal is for students to learn about policy, practice and procedures of the United States Congress. This year marks the 23rd year of the celebrated program, recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation.

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.

For more information, visit the Panetta Institute website.