Meet our Students: Adrianna Lazarte

We love every opportunity we have to highlight our brilliant students, and Adrianna is no exception. A second year student in the MPP program, Adrianna let us in on who she is, what makes her tick, and what she loves about William & Mary.

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1. Where are you from?

Arlington, Virginia

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

I was looking at a program for my boyfriend (now fiancé!) and saw the Public Policy program in the graduate studies pull down menu. Once I saw the International Development Track, I knew I wanted to apply.

3. What were you doing before you joined us?

I was at Randolph-Macon College (go Jackets!), where I majored in Political Science and International Studies, and minored in German and Economics.

RMC grad pic

4. What has been your favorite class so far and why?

My current law course, International Business Transactions, has been my favorite so far. The professor, Iria Giuffrida, is great. The material is really relevant and just generally within my interest. I think the inclusion of law courses is extremely valuable and being able to take a law course at a top school is an incredible opportunity.

5. Tell us your favorite place on (or around) campus?

My favorite place around is a tie between Crim Dell, because I love the legend (it’s a good one – look it up!) and the main dock at Lake Matoaka, because that’s where I got engaged. 😊

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Adrianna and Colin standing on the Crim Dell bridge


A proposal at Lake Matoaka

6. Favorite thing about the program?

The people! I have made so many great friends. In undergrad, a lot of the friends you make are people in your hall, on your team, in your major, etc. – but in graduate school, we all share an interest so big that we all pursued it! Also, grad school is hard… those who struggle together, stay together (#realtalk)

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

Just apply. You don’t have to do anything just because you got in, but you don’t want to regret not even trying. If you’re really having doubts, talk to your admissions counselor. I didn’t decide that I even wanted to apply until after the first deadline, so I was in constant contact with the director of admissions. Getting comfortable and not being afraid to ask about the things that are important to you will help so much!

8. Where do you want to go from here?

I really hope to get a job where I can serve a community. Whether that community be the world, the state, or a 500-person town; I hope to have a position in which I can make a positive impact. I am particularly interested in education, child advocacy, and vulnerable populations.

9. What are your hobbies?

Lifting is my main hobby (you can find me in the gym at 6 am every day!), but I also love baking and any kind of crafting.

10. Favorite book?

I’m happy with any fairytale!

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

I would love to meet Kate Middleton or Angela Merkel. In their own ways, they are both strong and outspoken women that I look up to.

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

You can do it! Days feel so long and the work is hard now, but you will end up doing something you love and making the positive impact that inspires you!

Thanks for sharing, Adrianna! Keep up with Adrianna and the rest of the Public Policy students by following us on Facebook, Instagram (@wmpublicpolicy) and LinkedIn!

The Washington, DC Program

The Washington, DC Program is an annual 3-day intensive study tour for first-year MPP students that uses Washington, DC as a case study to map the breadth and depth of the public policy field and showcase the vast career opportunities available to MPP students across industries and sectors.

This year’s program began with attending two oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases of Stoekling v. United States and United States v. Simms/United States v. Stitt. Following arguments, Justice Alito met with MPP students to provide an overview of his duties and day-to-day responsibilities, and students had the opportunity to ask him questions. Students also heard from a panel of lobbyists from both the public and the private sector, including the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Office of Legislative Affairs,  and various consulting groups.


Justice Alito met with students to discuss his roles and responsibilities and students had the opportunity to ask questions.

Next up, students walked to the Senate Building to meet with Senator, Tim Kaine (D-VA). He discussed his objectives, the challenges he faces as a senator, and a firsthand perspective of the policymaking process. He also welcomed questions from students which covered a range of topics from foreign policy, mental health, and the U.S. military.



Senator Tim Kaine met with students to discuss his perspectives on the policymaking process and various policy issues.

I really loved the D.C. trip for so many reasons. We got to meet with people like Justice Alito, former acting secretary of state, and Senator Tim Kaine who gave us insights I don’t think I would have been able to get otherwise. It was a great networking, bonding, and eye-opening experience. The trip make me even more excited to potentially have a career in D.C. later in life.” ~Sami Tewolde (BA/MPP ’20)

After a short metro ride, students arrived at the William & Mary Washington DC Center in Dupont Circle to hear from a panel of MPP alumni about their experience in the program, post-graduation journeys, and present employment. They offered valuable advice on being successful in the MPP program and navigating a future career in public policy. Following the panel, students got to network with alumni and Board of Advisors members from many different fields during a reception, making good use of the nice weather and the W&M DC office’s lovely balcony!

The DC trip was a phenomenal experience that exposed me to the real world paths that a public policy major can take. From practicing law, to conducting research, to enacting policy, the program revealed the massive variety of applications for a public policy degree. Also, the trip helped introduce us to important contacts across different field, providing us with crucial resources as we begin looking into summer jobs and future careers.” ~Will Neely (BA/MPP ’20)


Students and alumni at the Networking Reception (left to right): Madeline Shay Williams (JD/MPP ’22), Patrick Wise (MPP ’20), Will Neely (BA/MPP ’20), Venu Katta (MPP ’17), Samuel Holliday (BA/MPP ’18)

On the second day of our 2-day trip, we heard from Ambassador Tom Shannon, a private consulting panel of alums from the MPP program, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Students gained valuable insight into a variety of different fields within public policy.

Although the trip was filled with many professional and learning opportunities, it was also a time to decompress and relax with other fellow students! Students enjoyed spending their free time exploring DC restaurants and watching some Monday night football together.

DC Dinner

MPP students enjoying dinner together after arriving in DC.

This annual trip provides many students clarity and guidance in their effort to define policy areas and issues of interest and identify organizations they may want to work for in the future. The experience can serve as a pivotal time of discovery for our MPPs!

I am so thankful to be a part of the William & Mary Public Policy Program.  The Washington DC trip exceeded my expectations with days packed full of networking and discussions with a variety of policy makers.  The highlight for me was definitely visiting the Supreme Court and further enhanced by the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Justice Alito.  The fact that he not only took time out of his busy day to meet with us but answered all of our questions reiterated the wonderful opportunities that this program provides to its students.” ~Christa Martinez (MPP ’20)

The Washington D.C. Program is an essential aspect of this degree program as well as a treasure trove of opportunity for our students to experience just two months into the program. It allows for students to network and make these connections early on so they can begin to cultivate relationships and mentorships throughout the program, summer internships, and ultimately their careers. Although the program sets up MPP students for success by offering these amazing opportunities, it is ultimately up to students to capitalize on the opportunity and take the initiative to achieve their goals. As you can see from our current students’ own words and the success achieved by our alums, it is clear that students continue year after year to choose to invest in themselves and take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them through the Washington Program. We couldn’t be more proud!

To learn more about past Washington Program trips, please visit us at The MPP Washington Program.

While the Washington Program is surely a highlight of our academic year, we have a lot going on all year long. Be sure to keep up by following W&M Public Policy on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram (@wmpublicpolicy).

Policy Dialogue: Immigration from Three Perspectives

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On September 29th, MPPs traveled to DC for one of our annual Policy Dialogues. Policy Dialogues are part of the Policy in Practice section of the MPP curriculum and offer students the opportunity to have productive discussions with professionals in many different sectors of the policy space.  This Dialogue focused on the hot-button issue of immigration policy. As this is a complex and polarizing subject, we were excited to hear from three experts whose organizations span the political spectrum.

Carlos Guevara, Senior Immigration Policy Advisor at UnidosUS on the importance of facts and communication


Source: UnidosUS

Our first stop of the day was at UnidosUS, formerly National Council of La Raza (NCLR), where we met with Senior Immigration Policy Advisor Carlos Guevara. UnidosUS’s self-stated purpose is “to create a world where there are no barriers for Latinos to reach their fullest potential” through “a combination of research, advocacy, programs, and a national network of nearly 300 community-based Affiliate organizations across the country.” (UnidosUS)

Carlos emphasized that UnidosUS and advocacy organizations like it often concentrate on multiple policy issues. For instance, only 20% of their work is directly in immigration. The other 80% is comprised of advocacy and research in health, education, and wealth-building for the communities they serve. With this in mind, one of our key takeaways from this session was that policy issues are rarely singular in nature–instead, they are usually deeply interconnected with other seemingly tangential issues.

Another important lesson we learned in this session is the necessity of having strong communication skills when working in the policy space. Writing, social media competence, and a general ability to communicate effectively are essential to getting a message across to the wide variety of stakeholders involved in an issue like immigration policy, no matter if you are a behind-the-scenes researcher or public spokesperson.

In the spirit of communication, Carlos also suggested that we as policy professionals always remember to return to the facts when advocating for the causes we believe in–particularly when working in spaces where emotions can supersede informed action. Accordingly, he believes that part of our job as policy professionals is to help create a space where people on various sides of the aisle can have productive conversations. This involves building relationships and focusing on being both personally and professionally authentic when advocating for your organization in Washington. While some people consider the vote to be the key currency on the Hill, Carlos reminded us that the key currency is actually authenticity. 

Matthew O’Brien, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on the relationship of immigration to national security

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Source: FAIR

Our next speaker was kind enough  to meet us at the W&M DC Center for a lively discussion about conservative-leaning views on immigration policy. Matthew O’Brien, Director of Research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), focused on the issue of immigration as it relates to national security. FAIR’s general stance is that the US government must make “tough decisions” regarding the types and numbers of immigrants allowed into the country each year. These tough decisions, according to O’Brien and FAIR, are crucial to the safety and prosperity of Americans from all walks of life.

Like Guevara, O’Brien emphasized the importance of moderating the effects of emotion when discussing immigration in the policy space. It was interesting to see how policy professionals from two different sides of the political spectrum found common ground when it comes to the importance of fact-based communication.

Paul Schlegel, Managing Director of Public Policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation, on immigration and industry

Our third and final guest also met us at the DC center. Paul Schlegel from the American Farm Bureau Federation gave our students a rather sobering view of the hugely productive impact immigrants, undocumented and otherwise, have on the well-being of the United States’ agricultural industry. He made it a point to say that without the labor of undocumented immigrants, the agricultural industry would likely collapse.

Schlegel is currently lobbying congress to approve a program alternative to the H2A temporary visa program (a seasonal visa program that gives undocumented people license to work for a set number of months) that allows these workers to work year-round (thus providing stability and legalization) and allows employers to hire with greater transparency. He made it very clear to those in attendance that getting such a program to be accepted as whole by both parties has been incredibly difficult. This portion of the talk gave our students a realistic view of the political and partisan challenges policy professionals face.

Our students truly enjoyed hearing from all three speakers, and we are wholly grateful for the time they took to discuss  immigration policy and professional conduct in the policy space with us.

Next up: a Policy Dialogue in our Commonwealth capital Richmond, VA! We will be sure to post a recap of that dialogue here, so check back soon. Also, please don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram (@wmpublicpolicy), and LinkedIn.

Meet Our Students: Kylie McKee Wheeler

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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 Kylie McKee Wheeler (’19). Kylie is a second-year MPP in the International Development Policy track, Vice President of the Graduate Policy Association, and Editor-in-Chief of William & Mary Policy Review. She answered a few questions for us recently.

  1. Where are you from?

The greater Hampton Roads area.

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

I’ve always had a deep admiration for William & Mary as a college institution, and when I decided that I wanted to pursue public service by earning my Master of Public Policy, W&M was my top choice. It is very cool to be able walk on the same streets as our founding fathers while learning vital public policy skills.

  1. What were you doing before you joined us?

Before I came to William & Mary, I worked for about five years in digital marketing, specializing in search engine optimization, social media management, and online advertising.

  1. What has been your favorite class so far and why?

It’s very hard to choose a favorite class because all of them have been enriching in one way or another, but I have to say that GIS for Policy Analysis with Professor S.P. Harish has been the greatest. I came into the class completely new to Geographic Information Systems and the software required for creating and analyzing spatial data in the form of digital maps. Now I feel like I have highly marketable GIS skills that will help me qualify for the types of jobs I want. Also, map making is just a really good time. 😊

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

Again, it is nearly impossible to choose a favorite, but I am a big fan of Eric Arias, who is teaching a Latin American Political Development class in which I’m currently enrolled. His knowledge base and skill set have taught me how to put my quantitative research skills to good use in a way that works best for me and in a subject about which I’m passionate.

  1. Tell us your favorite place on (or around) campus?

I love the student recreation center. It’s a bit of a hike from Tyler Hall, but it’s the perfect place to get a good workout between classes and decompress after a long day of school, work, and extracurricular research/community service/professional development.

  1. Favorite thing about the program?

There are many things I appreciate about the MPP program here at William & Mary, but I particularly love the way in which each student is encouraged to make their graduate experience their own. There is so much flexibility within the curriculum that allows students to shape their policy concentrations. I also have a love/hate relationship with the quantitative rigor of the program because it pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

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

If you are looking for an immersive curriculum, small class sizes, and plenty of opportunities for professional development, please apply!

  1. Where do you want to go from here?

While I’m not entirely sure what’s next for me, I hope to work as a research analyst for a think tank or advocacy organization that has a mission of improving outcomes for needy families and children.

  1. What are your hobbies?

I love to run, sing, and data mine!

  1. Describe yourself in three words.

Dynamic. Compassionate. Short.

  1. Favorite book?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read it for the first time in the 4th grade and I still think it’s delightful.

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

This is another tough one, but I think I’d most like to meet Eva Peròn. I’ve always been fascinated by that era of Argentine politics and she was such a driving force behind it. I would want to speak to her about the role of ambition in her life as a woman in the spotlight.

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

“You have children who are strong, kind, and loving, and you’re in a career that matters. Don’t worry so much about the future.”

Thanks, Kylie! Be sure to follow the William & Mary Public Policy Program on Facebook, Instagram (@wmpublicpolicy), and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest MPP news!

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.

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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.

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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! 🙂