In 2017, while at San Jose State University (SJSU), Jacob Fraker attended a lobby day in Sacramento as the school’s president of the Undergraduate Social Work Association (USWA). During that trip, he decided to make a significant turn in his career toward public policy work rather than social work.
During the summer of Jacob’s senior year at SJSU, he decided he wanted to apply for the Equality California-Comcast Fellowship. While he had known he was gay since the age of 13, he had just recently come out during his move to San Jose didn’t think he would be accepted or that he would “fit in” with the program.
Founded in 2010, the Equality California-Comcast Fellowship is a leadership development program in which six exceptional LGBTQ+ or ally college students are placed in the offices of California legislators or other government officials. Fellows gain first-hand experience working with legislators, government officials and their staff, and develop key leadership skills. Their presence increases LGBTQ+ visibility in the Capitol and gives government officials direct interaction with members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Jacob saw the Comcast Fellowship as a learning opportunity since he had not previously worked in policy or politics. He was excited to be able to spend a month in Sacramento, get first-hand experience at the state’s Capitol, and help grow the representation of LGBTQ+ people in government while helping to advance equality by speaking up and impacting policies.
That same year, he was accepted as an Equality California + Comcast fellow and was placed within Senator Henry Stern’s office. He recalls a time from his fellowship that really stood out to him and deepened his understanding of the importance of the Equality California-Comcast Fellowship. During a friendly internal conversation about a bill the Senator was going to vote on that week, Jacob was able to provide an alternative perspective on how this specific bill would ultimately affect the LGBTQ+ community here in California.
Thinking back, Jacob recalls, “as the only LGBTQ+ person in that room at the time, I was able to bring a different viewpoint to the conversation, which ultimately helped shape the Senator’s thoughts and vote.” He continued, “the fellowship gave me that opportunity to be in the room and allowed me the opportunity to help frame the conversation in a different light and be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Comcast understands the importance of representative leadership in all spaces. Our partnership with Equality California over the past seventeen years has allowed us to make sure we help adequately prepare the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders here in California.
Jacob wants to advise all LGBTQ+ undergraduate students who may be interested in politics or think they may be interested in shaping policy to apply for the fellowship.
“Those four weeks in Sacramento really changed my life and the learning experience I obtained from my peers and other fellows was truly so invaluable. LGBTQ+ students are worthy of this experience; they deserve to be here and are needed in the building. The experiences LGBTQ+ individuals have lived through are valuable, they must be shared, and they must be told so that they may continue to help impact the work in shaping policy and change.”
Jacob Fraker was born and raised in the small rural town of Sonora, CA. Jacob received his Bachelor’s in Social Work at San Jose State University and his Master’s in Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Jacob currently works for Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman as the Senate Consultant on the LGBTQ+ Caucus.
To learn more about the Equality California Comcast Fellowship program visit https://www.eqca.org/comcast-fellowship/