Life Beyond the Redwoods: Noah Whitley reflects on the value of a UCSC degree one year later

Noah Whitley (Stevenson ’22, environmental studies)

Noah Whitley (Stevenson ’22) spent the majority of his life in Alameda, California, where he was born and raised. When he moved out of his hometown for the first time to attend UC Santa Cruz, Whitley didn’t expect to become part of the state’s legislative process. 

Today he works as a legislative assistant for a political consulting firm that works closely with the California State Legislature in Sacramento, following his graduation from UC Santa Cruz in 2022 with a B.A. in environmental studies and a minor in history.

“Seeing policy firsthand has helped me to understand how the California government is working through important issues that are currently of utmost importance within the state,” Whitley says. “As I continue with my career, I hope to continually be involved in seeing the progress of policy and how that context paves the future of individuals across California, as well as the rest of the world.”

Whitley performs a variety of tasks at his job, including analyzing bill amendments, keeping track of deadlines and the placement of bills, and informing team members when bills are being heard in political committees.

His favorite part about the job is being present at policy hearings and being able to see the political process firsthand.

“I graduated from UCSC with a history minor and feel that, in a way, I am a part of history by participating in this process,” he explains.

Whitley previously interned at the UCSC Arboretum for two quarters and the Stevenson Garden, where he says he developed his understanding of natural resources. He also served as a facilitator in the Facilitators for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (F.R.E.D.) organization attached to the African American Resource Center (AARC) for two years.

The experience Whitley acquired as a F.R.E.D. intern became an essential skill set in his current role. Whitley also credits many of his classes for his current understanding of the dense materials he often comes across in the state capitol. 

“In many of my classes at UCSC, we focused on interpreting large pieces of information

and being able to derive information from them, as well as being able to make inferences based on that text,” he says. “This teaching carries on to my daily work life. In addition, some of the classes revolving around environmental law and political entities provided me with a foundation for those governmental organizations I hear about everyday now.”

A little over a year after his graduation, Whitley is on a path to pursue his career goals and aspirations. 

“I sincerely thank UCSC for supporting me in learning about myself, providing me with opportunities to develop my understanding of the world, and preparing me for analyzing it within the context of my career,” Whitley says.