Cal State East Bay senior Karrington Hendrix on the steps of the Capitol Building

Cal State East Bay student earns credit for real-world experience in Washington, D.C.

  • BY Sarah Harris
  • February 15, 2024

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy offers a Congressional Internship Program every fall. Students earn 20 units of academic credit during this full-time internship. Cal State East Bay senior Karrington Hendrix took on the challenge in 2023 as the campus’s representative intern and recently returned to campus with new skills and experience.

Hendrix decided to apply because of the chance to engage in the world of Congress, civic leadership, community and public service. “I had recently changed my major to add a concentration in health policy and was looking to gain hands-on experience within the policy and working in government spaces,” said Hendrix, a public health major

“I also wanted to continue my passion for working in public service and was interested in learning about more career opportunities centered around government public service,” she said. Hendrix was previously awarded an inaugural Voyager Scholarship, Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service Scholarship.

After submitting her application, including a personal statement and a graded writing sample, Hendrix went through multiple rounds of interviews. “CSUEB provided me with the educational platform to succeed and a strong support system that made me feel comfortable pursuing new endeavors,” she said. 

Hendrix got to enjoy D.C.’s culture in her spare time, attending concerts and other free events. “It was also super surreal to see mini-celebrities such as Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and/or Congressman Bernie Sanders running around,” she said. Congressman Swalwell represents California's 14th Congressional District, which includes Cal State East Bay, and Hendrix worked in his office learning up close the national issues that affect our region.

Besides working on summaries, taking notes and answering phones, Hendrix sharpened her networking skills. She became more comfortable with coffee chats and said, “The most unique takeaway was refining my soft skills, such as finding commonalities with new people, teamwork and adaptability.” Panetta interns must also attend Panetta Institute seminars, submit weekly reports, maintain a journal and write a twenty-page research paper.

Hendrix encourages fellow students to apply for similar growth opportunities. “I was unsure if my public health background would make me a good applicant, but anyone of any degree or background can aspire to work in government, policy or public service,” said Hendrix. “My experience in D.C. truly helped me grow professionally and emotionally, and I look forward to seeing more people amplify their professional careers through the dedication of the Panetta Institute.”  Applications for 2024 are open until April 8. Contact with any questions.

In her final semester at Cal State East Bay, Hendrix plans to continue building long-lasting connections and running her club, Stigma Free. Hendrix established the mental health club this semester with the aim of erasing the stigma against mental health, supporting different groups in relation to mental health and spreading awareness. “Stigma Free’s mission is to normalize conversations around mental health and provide gentle reminders to our community of their inherent self-worth by emphasizing the importance of self-care," said Hendrix. Keep up with Stigma Free’s events on BaySync .

As for her interests outside of academics, Hendrix said, “I started playing the bass guitar recently, and I love music and attending concerts. One of my bucket list goals is to play live one day at an open mic.” After graduation, she plans to take a gap year to gain more experience in public service. She then hopes to pursue a master's degree in public policy and business administration.