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Public policy fellowship puts Maxwell senior on path to grad school

October 30, 2017 | By Kathleen Haley 

Chizobam NwagwuChizobam Nwagwu ’18 spent an intensive seven weeks as a Public Policy and International Affairs Program fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The summer institute program—with its three graduate courses, networking opportunities and site visits that showed career possibilities—cemented her goals for her future.

PPIA is a summer program hosted by various institutions across the country that 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.

“This experience reaffirmed my intention to pursue a graduate degree in public affairs. More importantly, I learned how I could combine my passion for public policy and science in graduate school,” Nwagwu says. “Going to graduate school no longer seemed like this far off thing that I hoped to do, but something I was more determined to do than ever.”

Nwagwu, a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, is majoring in policy studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences—two areas of study that she melded during her time at Syracuse.

“In high school, I was very interested in psychology but also chemistry. Neuroscience was an interesting combination of the two,” Nwagwu says. “At the same time, I was fascinated by the conversations surrounding mental health and public policy.”

Nwagwu became interested in opportunities that would help her explore her interest in graduate school and learned about the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute (PPIA JSI) through one of her policy studies courses and the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA) office. She worked with the CFSA director, Jolynn Parker, on her application, where she was able to receive feedback on her personal statements.

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.

“As a summer fellow, I was able to get exposure to what a graduate-level public policy program entailed. For seven weeks, we took three graduate-level public policy courses,” Nwagwu says. “We also visited several nonprofit organizations and local businesses to learn about the different careers Humphrey alums pursued.”

Nwagwu wants other students who are thinking about graduate school for public policy or international affairs to seriously consider this program as an option to learn more about graduate work and the possibilities out there. The deadline for applying to next summer’s institute is Nov. 1.