Tars Earn Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships
June 06, 2022
By Elsa Wenzel
Matthew Deveaux ’23, Capri Gutierrez ’23, and Nia Knox ’23 have been selected to attend Public Policy International Affairs’ prestigious Junior Summer Institute.
Three Rollins students have earned acceptance into the highly competitive Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute (JSI), a graduate-level program that prepares students for careers in public service.
Respectively, Matthew Deveaux ’23, Capri Gutierrez ’23, and Nia Knox ’23 will attend the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Michigan, where they will focus on developing and refining skills in analysis, leadership, and communication.
More than 700 high-performing college students around the country applied for the PPIA program, the goal of which is to help students achieve a master’s degree in public policy, public administration, international affairs, or a related field. Roughly one in six applicants are accepted into the program.
For more than four decades, PPIA’s summer program has been serving a mission to increase the pipeline of diverse undergraduates who enter public service work, including at nonprofit groups, public policy organizations, and government institutions. PPIA provides full scholarships to students who attend their summer host institution for graduate school and substantial financial support to those who go on to graduate studies at any of its 50 partner institutions, from American University to Yale.
“I feel so lucky to be connected to these schools and have the opportunity to receive financial aid through PPIA,” says Gutierrez, an international relations major. “I also feel very grateful for the opportunity to prepare for graduate school and network with incredible professors and students.”
Undergraduates in the JSI program join a distinguished group of 4,000 alumni who receive targeted career development and mentorship opportunities as they progress through their graduate work and into their professional endeavors.
Matthew Deveaux ’23
Deveaux, a public policy and political economy major, is looking forward to deepening his understanding of public service and preparing for a thesis on indigenous land and water rights.
“The biggest takeaway away from my major is that the issues that we currently face are not those that can be solved through siloed solutions,” says Deveaux, who’s also minoring in ethics. “The challenges of our time—climate change, human rights struggles, war—are intersectional in nature and require interdisciplinary understanding to tackle them head-on.”
From engaging in design thinking methods with the College’s Social Impact Hub to interning with nonprofit Black Orlando Tech, Deveaux’s time at Rollins has been focused on better understanding the interconnectedness of pressing social issues. Recently he has further fine-tuned his approach to socio-political complexities by founding a newsletter for fellow students called The Bubble, which shines a light on issues of violence and oppression around the world.
Deveaux is grateful to his mentor and academic advisor, political science professor Don Davison, for being invested in his success and for encouraging him to apply for the PPIA program. Post-Rollins, he plans to pursue a master’s in public policy at a participating PPIA institution.
Capri Gutierrez ’23
After learning firsthand about the struggles of farmworkers just 40 minutes from campus through Rollins’ service-focused Immersion program, Gutierrez channeled her experience into a passion for justice and an interest in policy and research.
“The experience with the migrant workers taught me a lot about the importance of immersing yourself into different communities,” says Gutierrez, who went on to conduct research on the intersection between LGBTQIA+ and Latinx activism with anthropology professor Nolan Kline and on global development with political science professor Dan Chong. “Getting involved with research early on helped open many doors.”
Not the least of which was an intensive virtual program through the Global Livingston Institute, where she completed rigorous coursework and conducted research on the impact of COVID-19 on health policy in Uganda. Gutierrez then went on to spend the fall 2021 semester abroad in Uganda through the School for International Training, learning from development practitioners and academics while also researching the implementation of local government development in the fishing villages of the Buikwe District.
Gutierrez pursued the PPIA program for its focus on international and domestic policy related to poverty and is eyeing the Fulbright program to further her on-the-ground experience. Her life goal is to fight global poverty through a profession in development and policy, perhaps with the United Nations.
Nia Knox ’23
Whether it was designing an Immersion around removing barriers to health-care access, participating in an alternative spring break in Italy focused on cultural humility and global citizenship, or conducting original research on the Great Migration for an art installation on campus, Knox has gained a nuanced understanding of society at Rollins. With this foundation, she’ll have a head-start at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, where she’ll take a deep dive into statistics and microeconomics as well as international and domestic policies, especially those aimed at eliminating poverty.
“Through my major, I’ve learned there’s no silver bullet to ending poverty,” says Knox. “You can’t wield investment in education as a tool against poverty if you don’t acknowledge the legacy of socioeconomic inequality and redlining that influences school funding schemes, or if you don’t acknowledge the challenges at home, such as food insecurity, housing insecurity, lack of child care, that a student may face.”
“The knowledge and passion of my professors combined with my love of learning to catalyze my path to success,” she says. “Good professors light the paths for others, and I’ve had no shortage of good professors here at Rollins. I love learning and I love growth, and there has been no better time than now to pursue those aims.”
An academic to her core, Knox has her sights set on a career in government research generating data to help policymakers create solutions. She plans to pursue graduate studies at a PPIA-affiliated institution before securing a public policy fellowship and eventually completing a doctorate.
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