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Sunday, December 9, 2018

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View of the Capitol's East Front Plaza in Washington, D.C. View of the Capitol's East Front Plaza in Washington, D.C.

Honors Students in the Capitol

SDSU’s Katie Martin and Diana Crofts-Pelayo experience government policy-making firsthand.
By Julie Mashburn

San Diego State University's Honors Program focuses on producing diverse and engaged scholars ready to take on the world. The program revolves around three questions; What kind of world do you want? What kind of difference will you make?  What kind of future will you map?

Two honors students, Diana Crofts-Pelayo and Katie Martin, are finding the answers to those questions on opposite sides of the nation. Both are participating in highly competitive programs with the government they learned about through the Honors Program.

“We constantly seek out opportunities for our students, encourage them to apply and help them through the process,” said Geoffery Chase, dean of the Division of Undergraduate Studies.

California State Fellowship Program

Diana Crofts-Pelayo, '12, is participating in the Capitol Fellowship Program in Sacramento.

Diana Crofts-Pelayo graduated from SDSU in 2012 with a double major in Journalism and Spanish and a honors interdisciplinary minor.

Her 3.9 GPA earned her Outstanding Student and valedictorian of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. She also won the Henry L. Janssen award for membership in all five interdisciplinary honors societies on campus.

Currently, Crofts-Pelayo is participating in the Capitol Fellowship Program in Sacramento. The fellowship allows her to work in the office of Senator Kevin de Leon as a legislative aide while receiving graduate school credit.

The position requires a tremendous amount of focus, drive and leadership, a combination that Crofts-Pelayo is familiar with.  While a member of SDSU’s Honors Program, she held the positions of student society secretary, vice president and president.

“I am extremely fortunate to have been part of the University Honors Program because of the opportunities it gave me,” said Crofts-Pelayo. “Not only was I able to study abroad and fulfill leadership opportunities, but I was able to graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare me for any future.”

As a fellow, she is given the responsibility of developing legislative proposals, researching and analyzing bills, responding to constituent inquiries, writing press releases and putting together speeches.

The fellowship has been enriching for Crofts-Pelayo.

“Having ample knowledge in the area of public policy and politics will add to my skill set in any job I pursue,” she said. “I want to be an agent of change and a voice for the voiceless.”

Interning in the White House

Katie Martin graduates in May 2013 and is assisting the Office of the Vice President on Capitol Hill.

Katie Martin, a current student in the Honors Program at SDSU, will receive degrees in international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR) and political science in May. Martin will also graduate summa cum laude with the Henry L. Janssen Award.

This semester Martin assists in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden, helping staff from the domestic and economic policy departments. 

It was the Honors Program that introduced her to public policy in 2010.

“The University Honors Program provided me with what I consider the launching point of my political career with an internship on Capitol Hill in Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office through the Panetta Institute for Public Policy.”

This sparked Martin’s passion for working in the federal government and drove her to apply for the White House internship.

“Once my internship is completed, I will be continuing my active search for a policy-related job in the D.C. area. I would love to work in the executive or legislative branch or at a foreign policy think tank.”

Both students exemplify the candidate that SDSU's Honors Program aims to attract.

Dean Chase said, “The Honors Program looks for students who want to help shape the world and give back in the process of doing that.”