Student and Alumni Spotlights

Jazmyne McNeese MPP ’18

by Zoe Linder-Baptie MPP/MCRP ’18   

Jazmyne graduated from the Bloustein School in May 2018 with a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree and a concentration in race and economics. Her journey has been busy, and she continues to move onward and upward. Later this year, she will begin the next phase of her journey as she enters the Ph.D. program in Public Affairs and Community Development at Rutgers University-Camden after spending ten weeks this summer with New Jersey Policy Perspective as the third annual Kathleen Crotty Fellow.

Jazmyne comes from an immigrant family and was raised by a single mother in Los Angeles. She is the first in her family to attend college. Jazmyne graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in African American Studies. She participated in the PPIA JSI program at Berkeley during the summer of 2015 and credits that experience, along with the UCI Summer Academic Enrichment Program in 2014, as instrumental in guiding her to apply and attend graduate school. She realized that the work she was doing on campus to advance student workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, and addressing challenges faced by minority and LGBTQ students were actual viable career paths. Jazmyne saw “PPIA [as] a group of people who are dedicated to working for people who do not have access to resources,” and that was exactly what she wanted to do.

“As students, we have to focus on the journey, rather than the destination,”
Jazmyne McNeese commented when discussing her path from Los Angeles, CA to New Brunswick, NJ

Fast forward a couple of years and Jazmyne is happy with her choice of attending Rutgers’ Bloustein School. During her time at Bloustein, she worked closely with professors Dawne Mouzon, Jocelyn Crowley, Julia Rubin, Carl Van Horn, Henry Coleman, Andrea Hetling and Stuart Shapiro to become the student she is today. While at Rutgers she found a village in her church, the Council of Black Graduates, and her peers at the Bloustein School to surround and support her. Her advice to students is to talk to many people, and gather as much information as possible, but understand that only you can make the right decision for your future.

The Bloustein School is consistently ranked among the top public policy and planning programs in the country. Faculty in the program are nationally and internationally renowned scholars who are actively involved in shaping the fields of community development, social policy, education, environment, health policy, transportation, and workforce development.

The Program in Public Policy prepares students for careers in government, politics, and public affairs within the public, private, nonprofit, or private for-profit sectors. It seeks to give students conceptual and analytical tools to build their competencies in four areas: public policy, research methods, economics, and politics, as well as training in leadership, values, and ethical behavior that guide the responsible application of these competencies in the field.

The select group of students admitted into the Master of Public Policy program can take advantage of all the courses offered by the urban planning and doctoral programs at the Bloustein School, as well as the hundreds of courses offered elsewhere at Rutgers. Ninety-five percent of full-time students receive funding to support their studies; master’s students often work as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses. PPIA Fellows receive an automatic application fee waiver, along with full tuition coverage and a stipend for their two years of graduate study. Additionally, the Bloustein School is one of the few MPP programs that do not require work experience of its applicants. In fact, approximately 50% of its MPP students come straight through from having just completed their undergraduate degrees – just like Jazmyne.

Outside of the classroom, Bloustein students have the opportunity to get involved in extracurricular activities including women’s leadership, social justice issues, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy, or international development, to name a few. They also can represent their student body as a member of the Bloustein Graduate Student Association. Many students, like Jazmyne, also participate in Rutgers-wide programs or get involved in the organizations in the local communities of New Brunswick and Highland Park.

Bloustein School students and alumni have found meaningful work in the public, non-profit, and private sectors, and have dedicated themselves to enacting effective policy changes at the federal, state and local level. Eighty-five percent of 2017 MPP graduates were employed or pursuing further education six months post-graduation.

As Andrea Hetling, professor and director of the Program in Public Policy remarked, “A graduate degree in public policy from the Bloustein School prepares students to work skillfully and productively in the exciting field of public policy… they learn to identify public problems, analyze alternatives, and make decisions using tools from many disciplines. When added to the motivation and commitment our students bring to the program, these new skills enable our graduates to make positive and lasting impacts on the world.”

This article recently appeared in the PPIA Newsletter, Summer 2018, as the Graduate School Consortium Member Spotlight.