Akayla Shrivastava ’23 Named Saint Mary’s 2021 Panetta Congressional Intern

Photo by Natalia Robert PhotographyPolitics and Clinical Psychology double major Akayla Shrivastava ’23 has been selected for the 2021 Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program. Shrivastava will attend a two-week training at the institute’s Monterey headquarters before flying to Washington, D.C., where she will work full-time for a member of Congress while earning College credit. 

“It’s really an immersive experience to see from the inside how Congress works, how bills are made and passed, and just the day-to-day life of a worker there, which I think is really awesome,” said Shrivastava.  

Each year, Saint Mary’s selects one student to participate in the semester-long program founded by former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and his wife, Sylvia Panetta. Saint Mary’s is one of three private colleges to participate in the Internship Program offered to 23 California State University campuses. 

Assistant Director of Admissions and Visitor Center Coordinator Philip Goodwin ’16 spoke on behalf of Shrivastava’s achievement: “Akayla will be our eighth Panetta Congressional Intern since we joined the program back in 2014. Her extensive list of accomplishments and work experiences will compliment her well on the Hill. And, on behalf of the Selection Committee, we are truly thrilled that she will be representing Saint Mary’s College this year.” 

Shrivastava said former Panetta Interns Christopher Harris ’21, Ivett Arellano ’21, and Goodwin, Saint Mary’s first Panetta Intern, inspired her to apply for the internship. “It was amazing to see how they experienced the Panetta Internship and what they got out of it,” said Shrivastava. “I was in a lot of classes with Ivett my first year and when she came back from Panetta. Seeing her grow, her knowledge, and professionalism—it was so inspiring.”

Shrivastava is also a Politics Scholarship recipient and thanks the professors who prepared her for the internship. “I love the Politics professors at Saint Mary’s; they’re incredible. Professor Zahra Ahmed interviewed me for the Politics Scholarship and helped me with this internship, too, so I’m really thankful for her help on both ends.”

Shrivastava, originally from Oceanside, Calif., chose to major in Politics at Saint Mary’s after participating in the overnight Night-N-Gael experience. “My Night-N-Gael host was also a Politics major, so seeing what she was doing and hearing about her experience just made me even more excited.” 

Shrivastava hopes to one day contribute to mental health legislation.“I’m really passionate about the connection between clinical psychology, mental health, public health, and politics...so I think this internship is going to be so foundational.” 

We are proud to have Shrivastava represent Saint Mary’s and wish her the best of luck in Washington, D.C.