The Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) is a not-for-profit that has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for over 30 years. The goal of the PPIA Fellowship Program is to help undergraduate students achieve master’s degrees in fields relating to public policy and international affairs. It also serves as a networking opportunity by providing fellows with the chance to connect with about 4,000 alumni sharing the same public policy interests.
Each year, PPIA seeks out high-potential undergraduate students from universities across the country to participate in an intensive seven-week Junior Summer Institute (JSI) before their senior year. During their program, fellows are equipped with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in graduate school and ultimately, in influential roles serving the public good.
This past summer Bloustein School undergraduate Sarah Lin (Planning and Public Policy, 2018) was one of 34 students to participate in the Junior Summer Institute (JSI) program at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The Princeton JSI cohort represented 31 colleges and universities from across the United States and 26 majors, as well as students from China, Nigeria and Singapore.
A native of Marlboro, NJ, Sarah was selected as a sophomore to attend the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy Leadership Conference, as well as the Moving the World Forward Conference co-sponsored by the PPIA Program. “At these two conferences, I learned about the PPIA Fellowship and heard about all of the amazing opportunities that come with being a PPIA Fellow,” she said. “Additionally, I knew a couple of former PPIA Fellows who spoke very highly of the program and encouraged me to apply.”
The goal of Princeton’s JSI program is to prepare students for future graduate study and careers in public policy and international affairs. The curriculum includes economics, statistics, domestic/international policy analysis and leadership topics. Participants are provided with the tools of critical thinking, speaking, writing, and quantitative reasoning and with the skills and experiences necessary to create, analyze, implement, evaluate, and change policy in a multicultural, multiethnic society.
“I think the most challenging part of the fellowship was the coursework,” Sarah commented. “In any given week, I was juggling a combination of problem sets, quizzes, policy memos, midterms, readings, and finals. Yet each of my professors, as well as the Princeton JSI staff, demonstrated just how much they cared about our growth and success by holding daily office hours, providing individualized feedback, inviting guest speakers who work in the areas we hope to enter, and taking the time to learn about what policy issues we were each passionate about.”
She said one of the many highlights of the intensive, seven-week program was the amount of information presented in such a short period of time. “We had the opportunity to learn from professors who have all done amazing work—one of our professors had previously worked in the Office of the President of Mexico. We also developed a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which quantitative skills and tools can be applied to the analysis of policy questions that we were addressing in class.”
Sarah, who was selected as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar and attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston earlier in October, noted that as part of the Domestic Policy Workshop the class was assigned a final project where the client was the state of Rhode Island. “As part of that project, we had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to interview experts on the Hill, at the Office of Management and Budget, and at an advocacy organization. At the end of the program, we presented our policy recommendations to a panel of health policy experts, including the Deputy Medicaid Director for the State of Rhode Island.”
“One of the best parts of the experience was getting to know my amazing cohort filled with aspiring governors, presidents, organizers, academics, diplomats, and more who are grounded in their communities and committed to public service in the here and now.”
“As a New Jersey native, I also had the joy of watching my new West Coast friends experience the East Coast humidity, try pork roll for the first time, and marvel at our jug handles,” she laughed.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Sarah is president of the Rutgers Global Coalition for Social Change, president of the RUnited Campus Ministry, serves as a Scarlet Ambassador/Tour Guide for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and was selected as a Voorhees Public Service Fellow at the Bloustein School. Outside of the university, she serves on the International Justice Mission’s National Student Leadership Team, co-chairs a subcommittee of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and volunteers at the Town Clock Community Development Corporation.
Sarah, who is also minoring in political science, psychology, and education and has completed the Rutgers Civic Scholar Certificate, encourages any undergraduates considering the JSI to apply. “You won’t regret it! I left the JSI at the end of the summer feeling so inspired to have studied among such motivated, hard-working, and thoughtful individuals.”
Undergraduates interested in applying for the program may visit the PPIA website. Application deadline for the 2018 summer program is November 1, 2017.