Seniors earn jobs with California's top U.S. senators

Even before they collected their diplomas on May 17, seniors Daniela Leyva and Carson Niello had landed jobs as in the offices of California’s two United States senators.

Leyva, a political science major and Spanish minor, has been hired as a Staff Assistant in Senator Barbara Boxer's Oakland Office. Carson Niello, a political science major, hired as a Staff Assistant in Dianne Feinstein's San Francisco Office.

“I feel very grateful for the opportunities that were available to me at Dominican because they led me to this job,” Leyva says. “I also feel grateful for the support from the faculty at Dominican because I would have been completely lost without their guidance; I shifted from being a confused first-generation college student to an employed first-generation college graduate. That, in itself, is meaningful because as a woman, and first generation, I just broke through so many barriers. I feel more feelings of gratitude than anything else right now.”

“Throughout my time at Dominican, I have been fortunate enough to gain valuable experience interning and volunteering for elected officials,” Niello says. “Senator Feinstein has represented the state of California since nearly the time I was born. She is a fixture in California and national politics. I couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to help Californians connect with their government.”

Both Niello and Leyva, who are due to graduate from Dominican during the May 17 commencement ceremony, are no strangers to the political scene.

Leyva spent a semester in Washington, D.C. last year as an intern with the Panetta Congressional Institute Program. She was one of 26 Panetta scholars nominated earlier this year by presidents of 23 California State University campuses as well as Dominican and Santa Clara University.

Working in the office of Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui, Leyva monitored and updated the U.S. Representative’s social media outlets and website with her press secretary, handled faxes and telephone calls from her constituents from the Sixth Congressional District in Sacramento and helped create a video montage for her with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Leyva also helped draft an op-ed editorial for Congresswoman Matsui, wrote letters to her constituents, researched legislation, sifted through newspaper articles from across the country, and, when she had time, led tours on Capitol Hill.


Last summer Niello served an internship for United States Senator Barbara Boxer’s office in Washington, D.C. He already had considerable experience under his belt working in political offices.

Last year, he interned for U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier. And, last summer, he worked as an intern for Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson’s office.

In 2012, Niello decided to apply for an internship on Boxer’s staff. He was accepted in her Oakland office, yet it was recommended he also apply to work in her Washington, D. C. office. Two weeks later, Niello was contacted and the process started. He flew to D.C. in late May of last year, arranged for housing on the Georgetown University campus then commuted to Capitol Hill for his job.

Niello’s internship was focused on a variety of responsibilities. He worked in the press office for a week. He also did administrative duties, primarily answering and responding to phone calls and meeting constituents from California, often leading them on tours of the Capitol.