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PPIA Fellows Reflect on Experiences; Application Deadline for 2019 is Nov. 1
Last summer, five Syracuse University students were selected to participate in the highly competitive Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) junior summer institutes.
Anna Nguyen, who is majoring in public health in the Falk College and policy studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School, spent seven weeks at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. There, she and her team of 19 other students from around the country engaged in a research project about the relationship between educational outcomes and School Based Health Centers (SBHC) in Detroit community public schools. The proposed policy was to expand SBHCs through guaranteed funding and by expanding resources to provide healthcare access to students that may struggle receiving care on a regular basis.
Samantha Sanchez, a geography and citizenship and civic engagement major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School, completed her fellowship at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. There, she engaged in quantitative and qualitative research on the Keystone XL Pipeline that runs through indigenous land in the United States and on environmental racism in North Minneapolis.
PPIA is a summer program hosted by five institutions across the country with strong public policy programs. PPIA promotes the inclusion of underrepresented groups in public service and advances their leadership roles throughout civic institutions. The program is designed to encourage participants to apply to graduate school in public policy, public administration, international affairs or a related field.
Other SU students who engaged in PPIA internships this past summer are Dante Moss (University of Minnesota), Bianca Castro and Dominika Peko (both at Carnegie Mellon University).
Nguyen and her team worked together to improve their quantitative, writing, policy analysis, public speaking and microeconomics skills. They engaged in policy modules that were taught by leading professionals and a U.S. State Department-designed simulation. The team also attended professional development workshops focused on preparing for graduate school.
“My summer was an intensive and extremely rewarding graduate school boot camp in public policy,” Nguyen says. “I learned about different pressing problems going on in the U.S and around the world, learned about career opportunities and reaffirmed my interest in public service.”
“My PPIA experience changed my view on public service,” Sanchez says. “Now I have a better understanding on the importance of race in policy and how administrative representation can completely change the public’s perspective on an issue.”
Sanchez says the experience also gave her the confidence boost she needs to continue her pursuit of her master’s degree. “Although the classes were very challenging at some points, I know how graduate school classes work now and how to manage my time better than I would have before,” she says. “But most importantly, I know my worth as an applicant and I need to stop doubting my places in prestigious programs or worrying that I am a token—I need to understand fully that I am in the places I am because of my merit and ambition to succeed.”
Sanchez is currently working on research focused on the racial disparities of lead poisoning within the Syracuse area through mapping with geographic information systems. Her work inspired her to go into planning with a focus in community housing/economic development for marginalized communities. She is currently applying to graduate schools, and SU’s McNair Scholars program is helping her with the process.
Nguyen is working on a developing research project, also with McNair, to study mental health, alcohol use and utilization of health services among one of the refugee populations in Onondaga County. After graduation from SU, she plans to take a gap year and then apply for a graduate program in public policy.
The successful PPIA applicants worked on their applications with Jolynn Parker, director of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA), and Michelle Walker, director of community programs in the policy studies program.
“PPIA is an amazing opportunity for students interested in careers in public policy, public administration or international affairs,” says Parker. “We were thrilled to have five students accepted to the institutes last year. I’ve been struck by how the experience helped them hone their plans for graduate study and their ideas about their future careers.”
Benefits of the summer institute include all costs of the program, including housing, travel, tuition, supplies and meal vouchers, as well as a small stipend and a one-time graduate scholarship to any of the PPIA partner institutions.
The deadline for applying to next summer’s institute is Nov. 1. Contact CFSA at 315.443.2759 for more information.