Alumni Spotlight: Elena Radding '18
Elena Radding '18
Political Science and Communication
What were your plans after SCU and where are you now?
A couple of weeks after graduation in June of 2018, I was hired to work on Congressman Ami Bera's congressional campaign in Sacramento, CA. I was hired as a field organizer and worked with volunteers, students and local Democratic clubs to reach out to voters by knocking on doors and phone banking for Rep. Bera. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
I was lucky that after the campaign ended, Congressman Bera’s D.C. office was hiring and I was looking to work on the Hill! I moved out to D.C. in January, and I’ve been working there ever since.
What activities were you involved in while at SCU?
I was most involved in Associated Student Government and worked in the Community Development branch for 3 years. The biggest project I worked on was putting more of a student role in the student-neighbor-university relationship.
I was a member of Alpha Delta Pi and served as Panhellenic President, and I also served as a peer advisor for the Political Science Department.
Tell us a little about your experience as a Panetta Congressional Intern.
It was a really impactful experience because it really helped me realize how important bipartisanship is to making Congress effective. This came from lectures by Leon Panetta, and interning for Rep. Bera, both people who really value bipartisanship. Plus, I was living with lots of students of all political ideologies. It motivated me to work for a member of Congress who places bipartisanship as a top priority.
It also inspired me to come back to D.C. and work in Congress again.
What inspired you to major in political science and when did you know you wanted to follow a career in public service?
My first experience working in politics was as an intern for President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. I knew immediately that politics was something that I wanted to pursue. Through summer internships with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the Mayor of San Francisco, and a political consulting firm, I became especially interested in political communications.
During my time at Santa Clara, I reflected on how I could combine the Jesuit ideals of service with my political interests. I felt I could do that by going into public service. I wanted to create substantive and engaging communications that informed constituents on how their member of Congress was representing them.
Do you have any advice for new majors or students considering majoring in political science?
My first piece of advice is to take advantage of the incredible professors in the department. I really felt that the professors were invested in me and they supported me academically and professionally.
Second, do lots of internships. You’re never going to know if you enjoy something (or really hate something) until you do it for 8-12 weeks.
Finally, be a civically engaged student. Whether that means being involved with a local campaign or working to improve the school on campus, I feel like your political science degree is strongly enhanced by being an active citizen.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
Professor Peretti taught my favorite class on constitutional law. She guided us through complex legal theories in a clear and engaging way. I still think about and talk about her class.
Professor Baker was a really important academic mentor to me. Her classes were always tough. However, I really felt that she was invested in making sure I was always doing my best work.