Claremont, Calif. (May 24, 2022)—Pitzer College alumnus Freddy Cisneros ’21, who graduated last year with a degree in organizational studies, has been accepted to the Executive Fellowship Program, a 10-month public policy fellowship offered through Sacramento State University’s Capital Fellows Programs. Cisneros is one of eight members of an initial cohort of students from the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) who have graduated from Pitzer through the Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program.
“Winning this fellowship and being accepted into the program is a life-altering event for me,” said Cisneros. “This opportunity will enable me to immerse myself within state government policy procedures, policy issues, project implementation, and public service. It will also afford me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills in the hopes of one day holding an official government office.”
The Executive Fellowship Program, a part of Sacramento State’s Center for California Studies, is an experiential education program that integrates high-level government work experience with academic and professional development. Fellows are placed with a mentor in one of the many executive offices of California’s executive branch, which include the office of the governor, constitutional offices, cabinet-level agencies, and departments.
“I hope to gain from this experience an expert perspective; to glean from working alongside my future cohort and mentors the amount of discipline, dedication, and professionalism it takes to become engaged in high-level governmental work,” said Cisneros. “I will not stop until I bring an equitable change to the disparaged communities and individuals of California!”
The Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program at The Claremont Colleges, which opened the way for Cisneros to earn his bachelor’s degree, involves classes where “inside” incarcerated students at the CRC and “outside” students from the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges take the same courses in the same classrooms. The first Inside-Out course that Cisneros took was taught by Professor of Psychology Mita Banerjee, and according to Cisneros, that class transformed his expectations of himself and the world.
“The way ‘inside-out’ classes transform relationships between inside students is stunning,” said Cisneros. “The ‘prison face’ is dropped, and we treat one another as inquisitive, studying human beings.”
Cisneros was a lead organizer, along with other currently or formerly incarcerated students, for the recent inaugural academic conference of The Justice Education Initiative at The Claremont Colleges. The conference amplified the voices of those directly impacted by the criminal legal system, while highlighting the importance of higher education, healing, peace and reconciliation, advocacy, and abolition. Cisneros is also a teaching assistant and a research assistant at The Claremont Colleges Library.