|Claudia Cervantes, center, attended the Panetta Institute led by Leon and Sylvia Panetta.|
Most students like to spend graduation night celebrating with friends and family. Claudia Cervantes must be an exception.
The 24-year-old outstanding senior and political science major postponed graduation fetes by spending the night packing for a weeklong student leadership seminar at the prestigious Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay.
Cervantes is Cal Poly Pomona’s 2008 valedictorian in the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, McPhee Scholar and President’s Council Scholar. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, she moved to the United States when she was 17. Not only did Cervantes graduate from Cal Poly Pomona with a 4.0 GPA, she is also the first in her family of among seven children to attend college. She is currently pursuing a single subject teaching credential in social science.
The “Education for Leadership in Public Service” seminar allowed participants to take part in intensive role-playing activities led by Institute director and former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta. Students also interacted with a number of prominent visiting national, state and local leaders.
“The seminar taught me that there’s more to college life than just academics,” says the Azusa resident. “I realized I have the potential to do much more.”
Cervantes’ experience at the Panetta Institute, which took place June 16-22, went far beyond leadership training and government policy lessons; it persuaded her to pursue other ventures. Once she receives her teaching credential, she hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in political science and teach at the university level. She also plans to earn a law degree, practice immigration law and one day become a U.S. Senator.
Every year, each CSU campus sends a student representative, usually an ASI leader, to this prestigious seminar. Although she is not a member of ASI, Cervantes was personally appointed by President Michael Ortiz to attend the program, which the university fully sponsored.
“I was really surprised that he chose me,” Cervantes says. “It was such an honor to be chosen.”
Developed in 1999 by a blue-ribbon panel of public officials and academic leaders, the seminar is designed to enhance students’ leadership skills and to encourage their interest in government and public policy.