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Andrew Regalado Choreographs His Own Path to Public Service

Be Orange

Aspiring to be part of something greater than himself, the former professional dancer is seizing chances to lead as a political science and policy studies major.

Andrew Regalado in empty auditorium

Andrew Regalado ’20 grew up in Chino Hills, California, determined to be a public servant. “I have always been passionate about making a difference,” he says. When it was time to explore college options, he knew he wanted to venture beyond his Southern California roots and be part of a geographically diverse student body. Syracuse University drew his interest. He contacted Syracuse University Los Angeles and learned about the hands-on learning offered through the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He was inspired to be Orange without ever visiting campus. Syracuse University’s Southern California Alumni Club saw his potential and awarded him a scholarship, instilling a confidence in him that helped with his cross-country transition. “I will always remember my first step on campus as one that set me up for success for the four years ahead,” he says.

Inspired by Family

Moving across the country would be an extraordinary step for most first-year students, but Regalado’s family has always driven him to be exceptional. A first-generation American citizen, he is the youngest brother in a family of six. He’s also a member of a larger-than-life extended family, with a dozen aunts and uncles and family gatherings that draw over 100 people. Even as a child, Regalado looked for ways he could set himself apart and make his family proud. A talented dancer, he turned professional at age 8 after he convinced his mother to bring him to an open casting call. “When people ask about the first time I tried making money, I describe that casting call,” he says.

On his mother’s advice, Regalado created his first résumé before he entered the fourth grade. He auditioned and traveled to dance conventions all over the country. Being a professional dancer taught him the value of learning through experience, he says. “No matter your age, if you're on a set in Hollywood, you need to be a professional, and you need to be prepared to work.”         

A New Chapter

While professional dancing helped him earn money for his education, his interest in public service eventually won out. The sense of determination that had driven him to the entertainment industry also motivated him to leave his comfort zone for college. He wanted to attend a school that would challenge his preconceptions—one that could provide a new setting and the ability to apply his skills right away. He also wanted to surround himself with individuals who inspired him to be his best in the same way his family did.

Andrew Regalado writes on whiteboard in classroom
Andrew Regalado looked for a university with a geographically diverse student body. Syracuse University, with students representing every single state and over 150 countries, immediately caught his attention. “That's why I didn't apply to a single school in California,” he says.

Syracuse University’s academically accomplished student body and myriad hands-on learning opportunities immediately impressed him. His passion for public service led him to a dual major in political science and policy studies at the Maxwell School and the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the past four years, he has been able to design a comprehensive academic journey with professors and advisors that encompasses both theory and practice. The dual major perfectly combines his values and interests.

Learning to Lead in Our Nation’s Capital

Regalado got to work straightaway when he arrived on campus in 2016. He participated in OrangeSeeds, a first-year leadership empowerment program. Through the mentorship he received from a Syracuse alumna as part of OrangeSeeds, he learned about The Fund for American Studies and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Those organizations offer internship opportunities designed for future leaders to define and strengthen their leadership ability. Through that program, along with financial support from Syracuse University in DC and the DC Alumni Club, he spent his first summer in Washington as an intern for the U.S. Representative from his hometown congressional district, Ed Royce. He split his time in 2018 between Albany, working as a legislative intern with the New York State Assembly, and Washington, where he was a policy research intern with the U.S. Senate.

In 2019, Regalado served as a junior Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Department of State and as an economic intern with the U.S. embassy in Madrid, Spain. “Each internship challenged me to think differently, live in a new community and adapt to the unpredictable yet exciting life of a public servant,” he says. “Working as a public servant has reinforced my calling to lead.” Using the same hustle that got him an agent while most kids his age were playing video games, Regalado has seized leadership opportunities well before graduation.

Regalado still feels he is part of something greater than himself. He serves as president and chair of the Forever Orange Student Alumni Council and was a founding member of the Syracuse Chapter of Delta Upsilon Fraternity when it was reestablished in 2016. He also helped raise over $300,000 for a children’s hospital over the past four years. “I always viewed myself as someone who could one day be a leader, and over time that’s why I fell in love with getting involved and the concept of service,” he says.

Brandon Dyer

This story was first published on January 17, 2020 and last updated on .

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