State Capitol fellowship provides insight into government, politics

Before she steps into the role of Dominican’s 2017-2018 student body president, Hallie Balch ‘18 is gaining hands-on political experience in the state Capitol through the USF McCarthy Fellows Summer Internship program.

Hallie is working with the Assembly Republican Caucus in the Office of Policy and Budget where she helps consultants analyze bills headed to the Assembly. Dominican political science professor Alison Howard encouraged Hallie to apply for the 12-week fellowship, knowing that the experience would fit well with Hallie’s interests and coursework.

The internship is the perfect opportunity for Hallie to learn more about the legislative process and how bills are drafted and analyzed.

“I am further developing my analytical skills while gaining a real idea of how California's government works,” Hallie says. “I have worked on creating arguments both for and against several topics – from education to public safety and water policy.”

The fellowship has confirmed Hallie’s desire to enter a career focused on politics. Hallie, who attended Desert Christian High School in Lancaster, CA, is a double major in Political Science and Communications. Before she came to Dominican, she honed her communications skills as a TV host on the Disney Channel.

“I'm just glad that I've had the opportunities that I've had every year at Dominican, and I know that I owe much of what I've done to the support from my advisors, friends, and the staff and faculty.”

Last year, Hallie served as a College Debate 2016 (CD16) student delegate. Dominican led the national, non-partisan CD16 initiative to empower young voters to look beyond party politics when identifying issues and engaging peers in the presidential election. Hallie was one of more than 130 student delegates from college campuses across the country who convened for a town hall meeting at Dominican in September 2016.

CD16 showed Hallie that in politics, listening and compromising can be the best way forward.

“At the Capitol I have watched countless members of the Assembly unable to compromise or come up with any noticeable changes for their constituents,” she notes. “This just inspires me to rise up with the counterparts of my generation and be the new wave of leaders that our government needs.”

As Associated Students of Dominican University of California (ASDU) president, Hallie and her Vice President Samantha Hunt ’19 plan to listen first and then act based on what Dominican students identify as priorities. First up will be creating a community garden in which students will help to grow food that will be used in the dining hall.

With a well-rounded background in politics – Samantha last year spent a semester in Washington, DC as a Panetta Congressional Intern – both incoming ASDU officers have the experience necessary to make a difference during their year in office.

July 20, 2017