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Summer 2013 Fellow: Hector Santa Cruz

Faculty Mentor: Claude Goldenberg

Office Description:

StudentFirst’s mission is to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world. Led by Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, StudentsFirst formed in 2010 in response to an increasing demand for a better education system in America. This grassroots movement is designed to mobilize parents, teachers, students, administrators, and citizens throughout country, and to channel their energy to produce meaningful results on both the local and national level. StudentsFirst is a 501(c)4 organization based in Sacramento, CA.

Office Website:

Potential Projects:

The fellow will be work with other interns in the Leading Change Academy, an internship program designed to provide top undergraduate and graduate students and professionals with the opportunity to gain practical experience in a fast-paced, national education reform organization, under the leadership of Michelle Rhee. The fellow will work closely with StudentsFirst staff to conduct research and outreach to the community, mobilize constituents and work on education policy. The fellow will also be able to take advantage of professional development opportunities, including executive coaching and skill-building workshops, participation in key organizational and community meetings, visits to local schools and networking opportunities. Based on the needs of the office as well as the fellow’s interests, the fellow can expect to work on the following projects:

  • Communications: The Fellow will monitor and respond to news and social media, research issues and support our organization-wide communications strategy. They work alongside experienced communications strategists in both a political and advocacy context.
  • Legislation: The fellow will conduct in-depth, state-specific research on the legislative landscape as it relates to education. He or she will work closely with the policy team to relate the broader StudentsFirst policy agenda to state-level legislation.
  • Policy: The fellow will participate in team-based and individual policy analysis projects to inform StudentsFirst policy in the areas of effective teaching, school choice and fiscal strategy.
  • Mobilization: The fellow will work with our outreach team to educate and engage members of StudentsFirst on important issues in K-12 education.

Desired Personal Qualities:

  • Professional
  • Friendly, humble, a team-player
  • Sense of intellectual curiosity, entrepreneurial instincts, and a desire to learn and expand their skills over time
  • Results-oriented, hard working and committed to continuous improvement.
  • Integrity, creativity and intensity

Desired Skills, Experience, and Coursework:

  • Coursework in public policy, especially international public policy and/or development, is a hard requirement
  • Experience or interest in education reform
  • Basic economics coursework is also strongly preferred
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, organizational and project management skills
  • Desire and flexibility to be part of a highly dynamic start-up organization
  • Significant work, study, and/or travel abroad are encouraged
  • Experience in journalism is a plus though not required
  • Proficiency with standard office applications and simple web-based services (such as Salesforce and Basecamp) is required

Main Fellowship Disciplines:

  • Public Policy
  • International Relations


Working proficiency in a language other than English is strongly preferred