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Department ofPolitical Science


Intern Spotlight: Kate Wetterstrand '20

Transfer student shares her experience working in the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office

Transfer student shares her experience working in the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office

Political science major Kate Wetterstrand ‘20  transferred to Santa Clara University from Carleton University in Canada in the fall of 2018. Since then, she has developed a keen interest in the criminal justice system and reforms aimed at ending mass incarceration and obtaining reasonable restorative justice. She has interned at both the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. 

While working in the Public Defender’s Office, Kate assisted two attorneys--one on felony assignment, and the other in community outreach. Her work with public defender Jennifer Redding included legal research, motion crafting, discovery examination, minute-taking, client interviews, and evidence examination. Under the guidance of the community outreach attorney, Ashanti Mitchell, Wetterstrand attended various events in disadvantaged neighborhoods to educate local citizens--mostly at-risk youth and homeless individuals--on their legal rights and resources available through the county. In this capacity, she created an annual report that tracked relevant information for the newly created community outreach attorney position. 

Kate’s favorite aspect of the internship was being mentored by passionate and devoted career defense attorneys who provided her with career guidance and meaningful, hands-on opportunities. “Working directly with Jennifer and Ashanti provided me with invaluable connections and relevant work experience. I loved attending court and witnessing the criminal justice system in action!”  Wetterstrand added, “I strongly encourage any student who has an interest in public service, advocacy work or the criminal justice system to intern in the Public Defender’s Office.”

When asked how Santa Clara University helped prepare Kate for the internship, she referenced two courses offered by the Political Science Department: POLI 45 Criminal Justice with Professor Elizabeth Tejada and POLI 198A Public Sector Internship with Professor Matt Harrigan. Professor Tejada inspired Kate to consider a career in the legal field; her ongoing mentorship helped Kate prepare for the interview and also helped her discern what she wanted from the internship experience. Throughout the duration of her internship, Kate was enrolled in Professor Harrigan’s POLI 198A course that complements internship experiences with an exploration of public sector and non-profit career paths. “This course added immense value to my internship experience,” said Wetterstrand. “The regular meetings with other students allowed me to reflect on my work on a broader scale.” 

After graduation this spring, Kate will attend law school to study public interest law.


To explore internship and fellowship opportunities or to learn more about the POLI 198A Public Sector Internship course, please visit our website