It was the first day of February and Juan Sandoval ’22 was buying a milkshake when he noticed a new email from the University of California, Berkeley.
No doubt that shake hit the spot, but the email ended up being the bigger treat. Sandoval, an Elmhurst University junior, learned he was one of only about 30 undergraduates from around the country accepted to a fellowship at UC Berkeley’s PPIA Junior Summer Institute.
The six-week fellowship, offered by the Public Policy and International Affairs program, will immerse Sandoval in public policy. It also will help him prepare for a master’s degree, law school and a potential future career in public service.
“I got my shake and then I saw there was a PDF attachment [on the email], and in it was my acceptance letter,” Sandoval said. “I was instantly filled with happiness.”
Sandoval said his openness to diverse ideas and people helped pave the way to the fellowship. A triple major in Political Science, Urban Studies and Philosophy, he is also a member of Elmhurst’s philosophy club, along with some of his closest friends. They are true “lovers of wisdom,” he said, “welcoming to any and all ideas.”
Chances are good he will find the same at Berkeley. The Junior Summer Institute includes classes on public and economic policy, statistical analysis, and the law. The curriculum matches up well with Sandoval’s educational and career goals. He said he is working toward a dual degree program to earn a master’s in public policy and his Juris Doctor.
“I hope to be an immigration lawyer and one day jump into the world of public service … to represent the people,” he said.
Sandoval recalled thinking at first that he wouldn’t be accepted into the program. But his professors at Elmhurst point to his intellectual curiosity, hard work and kindness from the day he arrived on campus as a transfer student from Harper College.
“Juan is the ideal student to represent Elmhurst at this prestigious program,” said Katrina Sifferd, chair of Elmhurst’s Department of Philosophy. Sifferd taught Sandoval in her Philosophy of Law course. “No doubt he will impress the faculty and students who participate.”
He is the first Elmhurst student in recent history—perhaps ever—accepted into the PPIA fellowship program.
“Juan’s academic preparation, lived experiences, and personal motivation will enable him to succeed in the PPIA program,” said Constance Mixon, director of the University’s Urban Studies program and the professor who urged Sandoval to apply to the PPIA.
“This fellowship will provide him the tools he needs to take on the most pressing challenges facing our country today. Through a career in public service Juan will help others—especially those in underserved urban areas—realize the promise of our democracy.”
Said Sandoval: “I applied to the program thinking, ‘What’s the worst thing they can say? No?’ To be accepted made me extremely happy and made me realize I’m capable of so much more than I thought.”