The University of California announced the new Presidential Public Service Fellowship on Feb. 18, encouraging undergraduate students to apply for public service internships through the UC Washington (UCDC) and the UC Center Sacramento (UCCS) programs.

The fellowships will provide $2,500 in need-based financial aid to students of any major who are accepted into UCDC and UCCS. The two programs offer a full quarter or semester’s worth of academic credit for internships, coupled with a weekly seminar and other electives, with approximately 1,000 undergraduate students participating each year.

Two UCDC participants and one UCCS participant from each UC undergraduate campus will be selected for the fellowships, which will be awarded based on financial need and commitment to civic engagement.

UC President Janet Napolitano praises the program for sponsoring a sense of citizenship in students.

“Our goal is to catalyze student interest in public service careers,” Napolitano said in a press release. “There are few callings that are as essential to a healthy democracy as a career in public service.”

President Napolitano regards the chance to participate in public service as a crucial part of one’s professional life, as well as for the public good.

“A public service internship can be a life-changing experience,” Napolitano said in a press release. “It can also be the start of a long and rewarding career that really makes a difference in the world.”

Media Relations for UC Office of the President (UCOP) Kate Moser said the fellowship program benefits students by increasing their leadership skills.

“We are trying to remove some of the financial constraints that prevent UC students from entering these programs,” Moser said. “This means that talented students from the UC system will be able to participate and become the public service leaders that we need.”

Moser said students who are engaged in civic issues should apply for UCDC and UCCS because through the internships they could develop leadership skills in the fields of work they are interested in.

“We need good leaders for our state and for our country, and UC students participating in these programs get good preparation for being strong leaders,” Moser said.

Robert Kovacs, Fourth-year communication and political science double major, who is currently participating in the UCDC program, said the fellowship will help to relieve the financial stress associated with participating in the program.

“The additional costs of the UCDC program can be over $2,000 compared to UCSB’s tuition, so it basically allows people to consider UCDC who wouldn’t have before,” Kovacs said. “I think $2,500 is the perfect amount, since it’s just enough to cover the extra cost of doing the program.”

Chief Administrative Officer for UCCS Cindy Simmons said UCDC and UCCS train students to become California’s future leaders by providing real-world experiences.

“UCCS really allows students to apply what they learned in the classroom,” Simmons said. “The Presidential Public Service Fellowship provides UC students with a great way to do something truly amazing during their undergraduate career, and gives them both an enriching academic experience through our UCCS classes, as well as phenomenal experiential experience through their internships.”