’80, Political Science
|Alumnus Jim Brulte's endowed scholarship will provide political science students invaluable hands-on internship experiences at the state Capitol.
As a senior majoring in political science at Cal Poly Pomona, former state senator Jim Brulte ('80) interned for U.S. Senator S.I. Hayakawa. Since he couldn't afford to move to Washington, D.C., his internship was limited to the senator's Newport Beach office, far from the rough and tumble of Washington politics.
Thirty years later, Cal Poly Pomona political science internships are still largely unpaid and local.
Now, with a generous endowment from Brulte, political science interns will be able to experience politics at its core. The Honorable James L. Brulte Undergraduate Internship for Public Policy will give students the opportunity to spend an academic quarter shadowing a politician in Sacramento.
"The internship will help enhance their education by giving them up close and personal experience dealing with people in government, seeing the governing process from inside out rather than outside in," says Brulte, who served 14 years in the California State Legislature. He made history as the only freshman legislator elected leader of his party in both houses of the Legislature.
Bob Balzer, executive director of the comprehensive campaign for Cal Poly Pomona, worked with Brulte to come up with a fitting contribution to the university that would recognize Brulte's achievements as a legislator and benefit future students. Balzer and Brulte have been friends for years.
"We sat down and over the course of a year or so talked about how I could give back to Cal Poly Pomona," Brulte says. "Establishing an internship program for a political science student who wants to be involved in government service made a lot of sense to me."
The goal is to fund three to five interns a year beginning in 2012 by raising $1 million to $1.5 million for an endowment. Proceeds from the endowment will cover the cost of room and board in a dormitory at CSU Sacramento for a quarter, transportation to and from the Capitol and basic living expenses.
Brulte, who was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1997, plans to meet with members of the community and colleagues in politics to build support for the university and the endowment.
Although Brulte didn't intern in Washington, he remembers his internship as a great experience that opened many doors.
"My first job out of college was working for the U.S. Senate. And I got that job as a result of my experience as an intern in Senator Hayakawa's office. He and his staff had an opportunity to see me and my work ethic, and they decided to hire me," he says.
The political science department tries to give students real-world experiences through internships and international educational opportunities, says department chair David Speak. However, it is up to the students to find their own internships, which are usually unpaid. And, since many Cal Poly Pomona students work in order to stay in school, they can't afford to go off to Sacramento or Washington, he says.
"The Brulte endowment extends our reach in an important way because it will provide support for students to spend some time in the Capitol. Because of the star power of the Brulte name, we get a huge boost in getting the students engaged while completing the internship and then having the internship open more doors afterward."
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