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Jeff Zetino, MSW

May 10, 2009

Student finds success getting legislation passed

It’s rare for anyone to jump into the public policy arena and get legislation passed on the first try. Jeff Zetino not only succeeded in helping pass a law last year, he was an integral part of a team that defeated a separate ballot initiative.

Zetino, who is graduating with a master’s degree in social work with a 4.0 GPA, was in his first year of the program when he interned at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. He got involved in a grassroots effort to require insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism spectrum disorders, using his bilingual skills to reach out to the Latino community. The result was HB 2847, Steven’s Law.

In his second year he mobilized a group of students to speak out against Proposition 200, the extension of payday lending practices. Zetino helped voters understand the misleading language of the ballot proposition, and he was partially responsible for its defeat, despite being outspent by a 95 to one ratio.

Zetino was born and raised in California, the son of a single mother who was an undocumented immigrant. She was disappointed at first when he left home to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, as she didn’t understand the opportunities college provided.

After his success in affecting change through social policy, Zetino has gained a newfound appreciation for community advocacy, and an understanding of the legislative process. He is enrolled in a concurrent Masters of Public Administration program and will receive that degree next spring.