Meet Our Students: Lauren Pudvah

In the Master of Public Policy program at William & Mary, we take great pride in our students. Each person in the program brings something special to the table and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on them whenever we get the chance. This is Lauren Pudvah (’18). Lauren is a second-year MPP in the Public Policy Analysis track and Secretary of the Graduate Policy Association. She answered a few questions for us recently.

Lauren Pudvah (1)

Where are you from?

Beverly, MA

What brought you to the William & Mary Master of Public Policy Program?

I am really interested in the intersection of science and policy, especially as it pertains to marine policy and use conflicts. I have a B.Sc. in biology and a minor in chemistry, so I wanted to enroll in a program that would cover a wide range of policy topics since my background in the subject was lacking.

What were you doing before you joined us?

I was working at a private oyster hatchery on Gwynn’s Island, VA propagating larval oysters for the oyster industry.

Favorite thing about the program?

My favorite thing about the program is the networking opportunities. Faculty and staff are more than happy to help connect current students to alumni or others that share their common interests and career path.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students who may be on the fence about applying to the W&M MPP program?

Follow your gut. I was drawn to this program because I thought it may be the right place for me. The small size of the program, the location, and the interactions with policy-makers and alumni have been more valuable than I initially imagined. There are a lot of networking opportunities within the MPP program and also in the other schools within William & Mary.

Where do you want to go from here?

Long-term, I would like to work on environmental, marine, or coastal policy issues at the state or local level. For the next year, I will be a Commonwealth Coastal & Marine Policy Fellow sponsored by Virginia Sea Grant and Virginia Environmental Endowment. I am placed at the Virginia Marine Resource Commission in their habitat division.

What are your hobbies?

Anything related to the water and being outside

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined. Candid. Compassionate.

Favorite book?

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

If you could receive a message from future-you, what would you want it to say?

You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.

If you could meet one person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would like to meet Archie Carr because he made remarkable contributions to international sea turtle conservation. His life’s work and legacy have provided an enormous amount of research to the field of herpetology and has had a positive impact on the trajectory of the different sea turtle species.

What has been your favorite class so far and why?
Professor Wilkerson’s National Security class has been my favorite class so far. Not only is he an excellent teacher and a wealth of knowledge, the class also challenges you to make tough policy decisions on national security issues facing our nation.

Who is your favorite professor/researcher you’ve worked with and why?

Professor Joosse has been extremely helpful with fine-tuning my writing skills. Policy memo styled writing is so different from what I was accustomed to. Her constructive comments on papers were extremely helpful to my writing becoming more concise.


Thanks for sharing Lauren!

Stay tuned for more student spotlights. In the meantime, keep up with all our W&M MPP students on Facebook and LinkedIn!

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Meet Our Students: Emily Ruhm

In the Master of Public Policy program at William & Mary, we take great pride in our students. Each person in the program brings something special to the table and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on them whenever we get the chance. This is Emily Ruhm (’18). Emily is a second year BA/MPP in the International Development & Policy track and answered a few questions for us recently.

Emily Ruhm (1)

Where are you from?

Ellicott City, MD

What brought you to the William & Mary Master of Public Policy Program?

I was attracted to the then-new International Development & Policy track, and I joined in the inaugural class in 2016.

What were you doing before you joined us?

Undergraduate student at William & Mary

What is your favorite thing to do on campus?

Enjoying Matoaka Amphitheater!

Favorite thing about the program?

The friends I have made through this program.

Where do you want to go from here?

My long-term goal is to join the U.S. Foreign Service.

What are your hobbies?

Dance and painting

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, determined, passionate

Favorite book?

Night by Elie Wiesel

If you could meet one person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Madeleine Albright because she is a fierce woman who was the first female U.S. Secretary of State and used her pins to make political statements.

What has been your favorite class so far and why?

The Global Political Environment because it helped me to grow as a development professional by understanding the theoretical background and academic research of development policy and foreign aid.

Who is your favorite professor/researcher you’ve worked with and why?

Marcus Holmes because he has helped me to grow as a researcher in both undergraduate and graduate work, as well as serving as a mentor, writing countless recommendation letters and providing me with new opportunities and experiences.


Thanks for sharing Emily!

Stay tuned for more student spotlights! In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn!


#wmMPP Year In Review

The 2017-2018 school year was a fantastic one for the Public Policy program at William & Mary. From orientation to commencement, our students, faculty and staff made sure to make the most of every moment. Now that we’ve had some time to sit back and breathe after finals and the excitement of the end of the spring term, it’s time to reflect on some of the wonderful things that happened over the course of the year!

Orientation and the Fall Barbecue

New student orientation is always a bit of a whirlwind for incoming MPPs. We like to hit the ground running with comprehensive introductions to law classes, math bootcamp (PUBP 500), social events like happy hour at the Corner Pocket, and a ropes course for the ultimate team building experience! (Photo credit for ropes course slideshow: Sophie Correll)


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Orientation week is both a lot of fun and a lot of work. It provides an accurate representation of the level of commitment and effort students will need in the program and gives new MPPs a head start with getting to know their fellow students.

While not part of orientation week proper, another fun annual event is the fall cookout, hosted at our partner’s beautiful space (including yard and porch!), the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. This year’s event was made even better with a Louisiana-style crawfish boil, courtesy of Austin Baehr (MPP ’18).


Austin cooking the crawfish! (Photo Credit: Sophie Correll)

Washington, DC Program

With a campus less than 3 hours from D.C., our students get to spend a good amount of time exploring the U.S. Capitol City and seat of the federal government where so much policy work happens. One huge opportunity to learn about the various career paths and opportunities in D.C. is the annual Washington Program. This is a 3-day intensive experience for first-year MPPs that takes them everywhere from the Supreme Court, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and USAID. Highlights of last year’s Washington Program were meeting with Justice Alito’s law clerks, spending time with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, watching the oral arguments for Jennings v. Rodriguez in the Supreme Court, and learning from alumni who live and work in different policy fields in the D.C. area. (Photo credit for Washington Program Slideshow: Kylie Wheeler, MPP).


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Tribe Football may have fallen to the JMU Dukes this year in the big Homecoming game, but that didn’t stop Public Policy students, alumni, and the entire W&M community from enjoying an amazing weekend. Mark your calendars now for Homecoming 2018, October 18-21.


Photo credit: Sarah Fowkes

Policy Research Seminar (PRS) Presentations and Fall Board Meeting 

As part of the program’s emphasis on real-world policy experience, all second year MPP students complete a research and consulting project for professional clients in Williamsburg, James City County, and beyond. Examples of projects this year include research on coastal flooding in Southeastern Virginia for Virginia Sea Grant and Wetlands Watch, (other examples?)…

Second years had the opportunity to present their PRS posters to Public Policy board members at the annual fall board meeting in November to great acclaim. In addition to PRS presentations, board members had a wonderful time visiting with each other, current students, and faculty. It is always a pleasure to host the Board of Advisors, and we thank them for their support of the program!


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Charter Day

This year on February 9, W&M celebrated its 325 years since the charter that started it all! Even the birds were in on the excitement, as evidenced by this hawk photographed by Public Policy Program Director John Gilmour. #wmCharterDay


Photo Credit: John Gilmour

15th Anniversary of the Schroeder Center for Health Policy

Earlier in the spring, we had the pleasure of celebrating 15 years since the founding of the Schroeder Center for Health Policy (part of the Public Policy program) through a generous gift from Cliff & Lois Schroeder. The work that has been done at the Schroeder Center over the years speaks for itself and we are so proud to have them as part of the Public Policy community. The anniversary celebration included several fantastic events, including a health policy panel we highlighted on the blog last month.

Commencement and End of the Year Festivities

Graduation season is always a little bittersweet for the Public Policy Program. While we are sad to see our students leave campus, we are thrilled for them to begin their journeys forward! This year was no different. One way we commemorate the end of the year is with the annual spring barbecue, hosted by the Graduate Policy Association and our friends at ITPIR, the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. Photo Credit: Sophie Correll

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The Public Policy Program had the pleasure of celebrating Commencement on May 13, where through their hard work, scholarship, and show of great character, several students earned awards:

  • Daniel Aboagye (BA/MPP ’18) and Peter Quinn-Jacobs (JD/MPP ’18) received Ewell Awards–given to well-rounded graduate and undergraduate students who best exemplify the virtues of a liberal arts education.
  • Emma Merrill (BA/MPP and future JD/MPP) received the Emma Owen award for excellence in public policy scholarship.
  • Abigail Motley (MPP ’19) received the Brenna Jean Vorhis Summer Internship Award–a $4000 grant given to an MPP who accepts a meaningful but unremunerated summer internship.
  • Jaya Uppal, undergraduate Public Policy major, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award–given to those who demonstrate characteristics of heart, mind and helpfulness to others.

All of our graduating Public Policy students should be immensely proud of their accomplishments. We wish them the best as they set out to affect positive change in the world in their chosen fields!

2018 grads cap toss

Graduating MPPs Celebrating Graduation. (Photo credit: Sophie Correll)


Good luck to all students who graduated this year and all who are returning in the Fall! We look forward to 2018-2019 with great anticipation and hope that you will continue to follow all the scholarship, activities, and fun the Public Policy Program has to offer. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram (@wmpublicpolicy) and send us your updates! 🙂

10 Things to Do Around Williamsburg

Thinking of coming to W&M, or already here on campus? Here are just a few of the things our MPP students love to do around the area on their days off.

The Williamsburg Farmers Market


The farmers market is teeming with people picking up local produce, meats, and sweets. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

The Williamsburg Farmers Market is an awesome way to get fresh, local food and support Virginia businesses. The market is held in Merchant Square every Saturday morning (rain or shine) from 8 am to noon. With 40 vendors, live music, and an easy walk from main campus make sure to catch this bustling market! Don’t forget to check out the center booth where you can pick up a free punch card and be entered to win a free gift basket. Most vendors accept VISA, MasterCard, and even W&M Express.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg


The entrance to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with the 210-foot drop of Apollo’s Chariot Hypercoaster looming in the background. This coaster reaches speeds up to 73 mph! Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

If you love thrills, treats, and good company, then Busch Gardens is worth checking out. The best part about the park is their rotation of events throughout the year. In the Spring and early summer sample foods from around the world at their Food & Wine Festival. As the summer nights heat up, catch summer concerts in the park with free tickets to pass holders offered. In the fall swing by for their craft beer festival and come to the park at night for some Halloween haunts sure to make you scream! In the late fall and early winter, the park becomes home to Christmas Town a magical display of millions of Christmas lights. Whatever you’re into, Busch Gardens is worth a visit for sure!
The park has a seasons pass for students that stay in the area year-round. Students also have the option of purchasing discounted tickets exclusively for W&M students on Busch Gardens Day, a once a year event sponsored by the Student Assembly and Student Affairs at the college.

Second Sundays Art and Music Festival

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On the second Sunday of every month March to December, the streets of Colonial Williamsburg showcase tons of different vendors selling unique art, jewelry, and home goods. If you’re into petting dogs, which we know you are, Second Sundays is a great place to listen to live music, buy some cool things, and smile at all the cute dogs you see.

Virginia Beer Company


Virginia Beer Company is a great place to grab a drink with friends. The brewery has an outdoor area equipt with cornhole and firepits, and inside you can find tons of different board games to play. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

For our 21+ students, Virginia Beer Company is a new brewery that opened up a few miles from main campus that hosts tons of different food trucks and live weekly events. The brewery has an industrial type feel and was started by 3 W&M graduates. Their beers are delicious, and their events are always a good time. Some nights they even offer W&M student discounts so don’t forget your student ID!

York River State Park


Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

York River State Park is a beautiful state park in Williamsburg situated on the York River. A short drive away from main campus, you can find over 30 miles of great hiking, biking, and horse trails, as well as beach-front fossil beds. Check it out and enjoy all this unique estuarine park has to offer 🙂

Williamsburg Winery


Beautiful day for a little rosé at the Williamsburg Winery tasting room and wine bar in Merchants Square. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Another local favorite is the Williamsburg Winery. The winery is located on a 300-acre farm and the whole place has an awesome vibe. Make sure to check out Sunday’s brunch menu at the onsite Tavern for some delicious food and cocktails. Tours and tastings are given daily and offer a unique opportunity to see how they make their wine.

If you can’t make the drive to the winery, walk over to their new tasting room and wine bar in CW’s Merchants Square. Grab a glass, bottle, or wine flight and enjoy some local flavor!

Kimball Theatre


The Kimball Theatre is a short walk from campus and next to great shops and restaurants! Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Kimball Theatre is centrally in downtown Merchant Square and is a short walk from main campus. The theater first opened in 1933 and has a main stage for both live productions and a movie screen. ClickitTicket has listed the Kimball as one of the best small stage theaters in America.

This year’s W&M Global Film Festival was hosted here and students could view award-winning movies from around the world. The historic feel and variety of show options make it a place worth checking out during your free time!

Jamestown Rediscovery

Contrary to popular belief, the Jamestown Settlement and Jamestown Rediscovery are not one in the same. While they both cover the history of America’s first permanent English colony, the experiences at each establishment are a little different.

If you’re looking for a museum experience with some historical reenactments on the side, spend a day at the Jamestown Settlement where the entrance is free to residents of Williamsburg. Here you can tour a recreation of the Powhatan Indian Village, the James Fort, and even board recreations of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery which set sail in 1606 headed for Virginia.


A Jamestown archeologist shows a group of visitors the active dig site. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

If an active historical archeological dig site if more your style, head a little further up the road to Jamestown Rediscovery where you can watch and interact with staff archeologists and historians uncovering the history of Jamestown. The site is located right on the James River and the Dale House is a wonderful place to grab lunch with great riverfront views.


Beautiful sunset at Historic Jamestown. Image captured on the Dale House Patio. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Lake Matoaka

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A favorite spot on campus is Lake Matoaka. The area has over 10 miles of hiking trails through the largest remaining contiguous forest in the city, and a waterfront amphitheater that hosts concerts and events. Students can rent canoes and kayaks at an onsite boathouse or stargaze at night.

Colonial Williamsburg


Spring gardens in Colonial Williamsburg. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Colonial Williamsburg is a short walk from main campus and a great place for students to exercise, lounge, or grab a bite to eat at one of their historic taverns. CW offers a uniquely immersive experience into early colonial American history with through daily tours, reenactments, and special events. In the early spring, CW welcomes baby lambs and beautiful flower garden displays. In the winter enjoy ice skating, colonial holiday decorations, and don’t miss the Grand Illumination, a spectacular firework display sure to light up the night sky.  Don’t forget to find the cider stand and purchase an official CW mug for a year of discounted refills.

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Check out the Official Tourism & Visitors Guide of Williamsburg for upcoming events and more things to do in the area.

What are your favorite things to do around campus? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below 🙂

Don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn!


W&M’s Schroeder Center for Health Policy celebrates its 15th anniversary


Dr. Jennifer Mellor, Director of the W&M Schroeder Center for Health Policy, introduces the alumni panel to kick off the discussion (Photo: Lauren Pudvah, MPP)

This month, the Schroeder Center for Health Policy celebrated its 15th anniversary by bringing together past and present W&M MPPs. The highlight of the event may have been an alumni panel that spoke to how different career paths were enriched by skills learned in the MPP program. As our graduating students seek employment and our first-year students seek internship placements, our alumni wisdom couldn’t have been more pertinent.

The panel discussion was titled “W&M Shapes Health Policy” and featured Ashley Gray* (MPP ’14), Massey Whorley* (MPP ’08), Joanna Young* (MPP ’07), Michael Cassidy* (MPP ’99), and Carol Blackford* (MPP ’95). The alumni highlighted skills they obtained from the W&M MPP program that have made them successful in their careers across different policy sectors.

The MPP program’s strong economic and quantitative focus, encouragement of effective and thoughtful communication, law class requirements, and solid foundation classes were just a few things they said give them a leg up in their careers. This panel was a great way to get our current MPP students thinking about what strengths to highlight as they are on the job or internship search!


More information on our featured alumni:

* Ashley Gray, ’14, Director of State Affairs, Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield Association; Since graduation, Ashley has had 4 senior level positions in the Government, Non-Profits, NGOs, and a Trade Association. She is a top flyer who is frequently found on the 30 under 30 or 40 on 40 lists.

* Massey Whorley, ’08, Senior Policy Advisor, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam; In the 10 years since graduating Massey has been senior staff at JLARC, TCI and the VA state Governor’s Office for Terry McAuliffe and now Ralph Northam.

* Joanna Young, ’07 Senior Director, Avalere Health; Joanna is has made her career in DC working in for-profit and not-for-profits firms focused on data analytics.

* Michael Cassidy, ’99, Founder, President and CEO, Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis; TCI has grown from a small startup into the state’s leading independent voice on state fiscal and economic policy issues.

* Carol Blackford, ’95, Director of Hospital and Ambulatory Policy Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Carol is an SES level senior manager with a 20+ year career in federal service.


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Thank you to the students, faculty, and alumni who made the event such a success! 

Stay tuned for more MPP events. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Meet Our Students: Sam Holliday

In the Master of Public Policy program at William & Mary, we take great pride in our students. Each person in the program brings something special to the table and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on them whenever we get the chance. This is Sam Holliday (’18). Sam is a second year BA/MPP in the Public Policy Analysis track and answered a few questions for us recently.

Sam Holliday

Where are you from?

I am from Washington, DC; my license plates say “Taxation Without Representation” and everything!

What brought you to the William & Mary Master of Public Policy Program?

I am part of the Accelerated Masters of Public Policy Program, in which the final year of my bachelors and the first year of my masters were combined. This provided me with the fantastic opportunity to pursue an advanced degree while remaining at William & Mary in lovely Williamsburg.

What is your favorite thing to do on campus?

I love attending musical and theatrical performances and Tribe athletic events. This campus is filled with such wonderfully talented individuals and surrounded by a vibrant community.

Favorite thing about the program?

My favorite part of the MPP Program is the people. The small cohort sizes and ample opportunities to grow closer as a group have helped make my classmates close friends that I will cherish for life.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students who may be on the fence about applying to the W&M MPP program?

The William & Mary MPP program does a fantastic job preparing you for a career in public policy. Having had such a variety of academic experiences – everything from econometrics to election law – I feel prepared to tackle policy issues from many angles.

Where do you want to go from here?

Over my professional and academic career, I have developed a preference for Congressional policymaking and politics. I plan to work on Capitol Hill moving forward.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include photography, trying to improve my golf game, cooking with friends and family, and occasionally binge-watching great shows on Netflix.

Describe yourself in three words.

Affable, earnest, and scholarly.

Favorite book?

So difficult to choose! I’d have to say The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway – rarely have I encountered a novel which makes such wonderfully precise and sparing use of the English language that is yet so captivating.

If you could receive a message from future-you, what would you want it to say?

Your work has helped beyond the people you can see.

If you could meet one person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?

George Washington, to discuss what drove the man to extraordinarily yield his military power back to the people – like the ancient Cincinnatus – following the Revolution, and to share that the city he built and the government he led carry on more than two centuries later.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I’m also an ardent lover of classic films (if you couldn’t tell by my Movie Night* selections: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Rear Window).

What has been your favorite class so far and why? 

My favorite course has been Professor Wilkerson’s seminar on National Security; the wealth of knowledge he brings to class and shares freely with his students is incredible.

Who is your favorite professor/researcher you’ve worked with and why?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both courses I’ve had with Professor Gilmour – he’s both knowledgeable and funny, leading to wonderful classes.


Thanks for sharing Sam! *Sam featured a few of his favorite films during our program’s movie nights hosted by the MPP Graduate Policy Association.


Stay tuned for more student spotlights. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn!

2018 Admitted Students Day

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Some of this year’s admitted students spent the day hearing from current W&M MPP students and professors all about what the program has to offer. Students enjoyed a delicious lunch from The Cheese Shop, a local favorite, and toured our beautifully renovated Tyler Hall, as well as the rest of our historic campus.

Thank you to the students, faculty, and admitted students who came and made the day such a success. We hope to see you all in the fall!


Stay tuned for more MPP events. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn.