WWS Blog

A Full-Circle Experience

Oct 3, 2014
Published by:
Renato Rocha, MPA '16
Renato Rocha, MPA '16

During the summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to participate in Princeton’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute. The PPIA program looks for applicants from various backgrounds interested in public policy. The fellowship provides students with round-trip transportation, room and board, and a summer stipend.

When I was applying to PPIA, I knew I was interested in pursuing a career in public service. However, I recognized that I needed quantitative training to better understand public policy.

During PPIA, I took courses in microeconomics, statistics, and domestic policy analysis. Fortunately, the Woodrow Wilson School provides tutors and encourages students to attend instructors’ office hours. Since PPIA was the first time I took classes in economics and statistics, the academic support from the Woodrow Wilson School allowed me to better grasp the material being covered in the summer.

Aside from academic support, the PPIA program at the Woodrow Wilson School also planned recreational activities every weekend. My PPIA cohort went canoe paddling, bowling, visited Six Flags, and watched a Broadway play featuring Denzel Washington. The Woodrow Wilson School generously funded each of these activities and trips.

After PPIA and completing my undergraduate studies, I worked on U.S. labor and immigration policy issues as they relate to farmworkers in Washington, DC. From DC I moved to Mexico City, where I conducted research on the labor recruitment process of foreign temporary workers on a Fulbright public policy research grant—I first learned about the grant opportunity from members of my PPIA cohort.

While working on these issues, I realized that a strong quantitative training would allow me to more effectively advocate on behalf of migrant communities. When I applied to graduate school, three of the four graduate programs requested information on my background in quantitative analysis. My PPIA courses in microeconomics and statistics were the foundation of my quantitative experience.  

Because I had such an incredible experience during PPIA, the Woodrow Wilson School was my top choice for graduate studies in public policy. During PPIA, I saw firsthand how the Woodrow Wilson School fully supports its students’ academic and professional goals. As a graduate student, I am now back at the Woodrow Wilson School and I continue to be amazed by how the School’s resources enable students to fully commit to their pursuit of public service.

photo credit: Sameer Khan/Fotobuddy

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