Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship
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The California State Assembly Fellowship Program, founded in 1957, is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious legislative fellowship programs. This unique program provides an opportunity for individuals of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and experiences to directly participate in the legislative process. In 1987, the program was renamed the Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program to honor California's former Assembly Speaker and State Treasurer. Each year, 18 individuals are selected to participate in the program. The 11-month fellowship provides an introduction to public policy formation and adoption in the California Legislature through full-time work as a professional legislative staff member.
Assembly fellows receive fully paid enrollment at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), and earn 12 units of graduate course credit for two graduate seminars taught by faculty from the CSUS government department. The graduate seminars are conducted at the State Capitol and are a required segment of the fellowship program.
Fellows are placed in the Capitol offices of Assembly Members. They perform a variety of tasks in different issue areas. Some of these legislative tasks may include, but are not limited to, drafting and staffing legislation, writing committee analysis, drafting responses to constituent letters, writing speeches, meeting with constituents, speaking to school groups, preparing committee briefs, tracking bills, or researching policy issues.
Qualifications and Application Requirements
Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree by the end of summer of the fellowship year. There are no preferred majors. Recent fellows have had backgrounds in such diverse fields as child development, religious studies, law and biochemistry. Applicants must furnish academic, employment and activities data, unofficial transcripts from colleges attended, a personal statement, a policy statement on a specific topic contained in the application, and three references. Individuals with advanced degrees or those in mid-career are encouraged to apply.
The selection process of the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program has two stages. During the first stage, completed applications are screened by the fellowship selection committee. Among the qualities looked for in future fellows are scholastic achievement, oral and written communication skills, analytic skills, campus and community service involvement, political awareness, and leadership potential. Approximately 70 applicants are notified in writing in April of their selection for a personal interview. Interviews take place in early May in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Fellows and alternates are selected from those candidates that interview with the selection committee, and written notifications are mailed in May. The deliberations of the selection committee are confidential and final. All applications become property of the program, and if selected, may be distributed to Assembly Members requesting placement.
Administration, Stipend, and Benefits
The Assembly Fellowship Program is co-sponsored by the California State Assembly and California State University, Sacramento, through the Center for California Studies. Assembly Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $1,972, as well as medical, dental and vision benefits.