Top UC Davis Graduate Aims for State Legislature

Julianne Cravotto stands in front of the State Capitol
Julianne Cravotto is recipient of the University Medal as the top graduating senior at UC Davis. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Some of the citizens that Julianne Cravotto has helped register to vote may just one day cast their ballots for her.

The political science and history major, to be honored as the top graduating senior at the University of California, Davis, is embarking on a career in public service and has ambitions of being a state legislator.

And the award she has won attests that she is well on her way. The University Medal — to be presented at the College of Letters and Science commencement at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15 — recognizes excellence in undergraduate studies, outstanding community service, and the promise of future scholarship and contributions to society.

‘A jewel in the UC Davis crown’

Erik Engstrom, professor and chair of the political science department, calls Cravotto “a jewel in the UC Davis crown” and expects her to be a leader in California politics. “If Julianne ever decides to run for elective office, I will be among the first in line to support her,” he said. “And that line will be long.”

Raised in Berkeley, California, Cravotto helped register voters in three counties for the last presidential election, worked with state Sen. Ben Allen one summer and interned in the office of then-Gov. Jerry Brown for nine months last year.

The university has showcased her research on the San Francisco housing crisis to legislators, and a UC Davis journal for the best in undergraduate writing published her research on controversial murals from the New Deal era. Also, she studied conflict resolution in Ireland in 2016 through the highly competitive Fulbright UK Summer Institute.

Cravotto’s other activities have included working as a research assistant, tutoring French and advising students, leading tours for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, and volunteering at the food pantry on campus.

Rejection doesn’t stop her from trying

The honors student and scholarship recipient has already built an impressive resume. But she said that’s because she hasn’t let missing some opportunities stop her from trying for others. She shared encouragement that she said is important for her generation: “Things don’t always work out as planned. But we can’t let one rejection keep us from doing what we want.”

After graduation Cravotto will do constituent work through the Nancy Pelosi College Fellowship of the Democratic Party in San Francisco. In the fall, she’ll start the Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program in Sacramento. Over 11 months, she will work as a legislative aide, be mentored by a senior staff person and attend seminars for graduate school credits at California State University, Sacramento.

Thousands of students are participating in spring commencement ceremonies, which began in mid-May and will continue through Sunday, June 16.

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Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248,

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