Journalism Alumna Accepted into Prestigious Fellowship Program
By Nicole Troy
Last fall, Grace Curtis (Journalism, ’22) joined the prestigious Capital Fellows Program offered through California State University, Sacramento, making her one of only 18 fellows accepted into the executive branch of the 11-month program.
The Capital Fellows Programs are nationally recognized public policy fellowships, offering unique and in-depth experiences in policymaking and development in each branch of government.
With a concentration in public relations and a double minor in English and environmental studies, Curtis brings a unique interdisciplinary education to the program.
“Most of the students that apply to this program are political science majors, but coming from a journalism background gave me a more nuanced skillset in communication and writing, which is very applicable to so much of the work I’ll be doing,” Curtis said.
Curtis was accepted into the fellowship’s executive branch where she is working in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development on the Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) team. She currently aids the ZEV team in their efforts to further develop the market for zero emissions vehicle sales as well as the charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure in California.
“A portion of what I will be doing for the ZEV team will be using my journalistic skills to help showcase important success stories from their work to stakeholders and to find better ways of communicating metrics on how the zero-emission vehicle market is currently doing,” Curtis said. “I am definitely benefitting from having all my public relations knowledge and data journalism skills at the ready.”
Curtis credits the classes she took with journalism Lecturer Kim Bisheff, journalism Assistant Professor Michael Park and natural resources management and environmental sciences Professor Anastasia Telesetsky as influencing her to pursue her passions of environmental law and policy.
“[With Kim Bisheff] I did projects on climate change and other environmental topics in her multimedia journalism and media innovation classes, and in these spaces my passion for environmental issues was born. Similarly, taking media law with Michael Park directed my interest toward the legal field,” Curtis said.
While taking both mass media law and copyright and advertising law with Park, Curtis would often stop by Park’s office hours to pick his brain about a potential career in law.
“Grace approached her university studies with a professional attitude. She was very curious, and these attributes helped separate her from the rest of the pack, to be among Cal Poly's best and brightest,” Park said.
The flexibility of the Journalism Department’s curriculum also allowed Curtis to take classes within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences where she chose to minor in environmental sciences.
After taking a course with Telesetsky, Telesetsky persuaded Curtis to apply to the Capital Fellows Program where she could explore what a career working in environmentalism might be like and learn from California government leaders.
“With Grace, I was a fellow explorer. She knows that she wants to use law and policy to create positive social impacts. Together, we were able to explore potential pathways for thinking about how law works not just on paper but in reality,” Telesetsky said.
After her fellowship concludes, Curtis plans to continue her work in environmental law and go back to school to pursue either a law degree or master’s degree.
Reflecting on her time at Cal Poly, Curtis offered a piece of advice for current students.
“Never underestimate how important it is to get to know your professors and be an active participant in their classes. Building relationships with your educators is how you will find paths forward in life, not just as an undergrad, but in all settings.”