Jennifer Franco '00, Political Science
Policy Analyst, Senate Republican Caucus
What is a typical day at the office for political science graduate Jennifer Franco? As a policy consultant on the Public Employees Retirement System and Veteran's Affairs, Franco works for the Senate Republican Caucus in Sacramento and insists there is no typical day.
“It depends on the legislature,” she says. “It depends on deadlines. I look at the daily file and see if we have any hearings or floor sessions and, if so, what bills are going to be heard that day.”
Once she knows which bills are involved, she makes sure that her analyses of the bills in her subject areas are up-to-date so that the senators have good information when they are reviewing the bills. The senators, of course, need to know the implications of enacting the bills they vote on, which is where policy analysts like Franco come in.
“I contact the sponsors of the bill,” she says, noting that the sponsors of the bill aren't always the authors of the bills but can be lobbyist or special interest groups. “I check to see if the bill's language needs to be modified so that it is agreeable to both sides of the Senate. I discuss the bill with the consultant for the committee to make sure that we have the most reliable and relevant information we can get for the members.”
Franco's role in government is fairly unusual for a political science graduate. Political science, she says, is one of those degrees that tend to be a springboard for something else. Not many graduates actually work in politics. Franco, however, began her political career as a receptionist for Assemblyman Jim Brulte while she was a student. It was there that she caught what she calls “the political bug.” Brulte, who is also a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus, encouraged Franco to pursue a degree in political science.
One of Franco's formative university experiences, which also cemented her desire to continue a career in politics, was with the National Model United Nations (NMUN) team. She served as head delegate on the 2000 team that represented Finland . And in 2004, as an alumna, she served as the NMUN Secretary-General, making her responsible for organizing the entire conference. The Model U.N. conference is the largest student-administered conference in the country, attracting more than 3,000 students from universities in the United States and from 23 different foreign countries. Each school has a delegation and receives country assignments. Franco not only handled these assignments, she also gave out scholarships, wrote and disseminated press releases, spoke with dignitaries and ambassadors, arranged guest speakers, and assisted international students with their visa requirements. It was a grueling yet rewarding task that crystallized the importance of the conference to her.
“Awards are not the purpose for going to the conference,” she says. “The purpose is to understand diplomacy and the art of negotiation. The awards are just the icing on the cake.”
In addition to her roles in the NMUN and the Senate Republican Caucus, Franco has another pressing commitment. She is a journalist petty officer second class in the Navy Reserves. As such, she writes articles about Navy reservists and assists the Navy with organizing special events. Recently Franco applied her public relations expertise to celebrate the homecoming of the USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego. The highlight of the event, she says, was meeting Nancy Reagan.
And it all started at Cal Poly Pomona with the Model U.N. Team.
“The skills you learn on the Model U.N. Team are just phenomenal,” says Franco, who encourages all students to try out for the team. “It inspired me, as did Cal Poly Pomona. Both entities showed me that I can be more than I am, and that the best way to learn is to learn by doing.”