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Congratulating the Class of 2012 Woodrow Wilson School Graduates

Jun 7, 2012

Family, friends, and members of the academic community gathered on June 5 for the 265th Princeton University Commencement. Among the 2012 Princeton graduating class were 96 Woodrow Wilson School graduate students: 63 MPAs, 23 MPPs, and 10 PhDs. In addition, 83 Wilson School seniors received their BA degrees.

This year the Woodrow Wilson School conferred certificates to graduate and PhD students in four programs: Eight students received certificates in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP); ten received certificates in Health and Health Policy (HHP); six received certificates in Urban Policy and Planning (UPP); and one PhD student earned a certificate in Demography.

In addition, four PhDs were awarded to students in the Joint Degree Program in Social Policy:  two in psychology and social policy; one in politics and social policy, and one in sociology and social policy. 

At a dinner on June 4, Woodrow Wilson School Dean Christina Paxson presented the following achievement awards:

The Master in Public Policy (MPP) award is presented to the student who has achieved both an outstanding academic record and demonstrated a deep commitment to public service. This year Catherine (Cat) S. Moody was recognized for her enthusiasm, positive energy, and academic excellence within the 2012 MPP graduating class at the Wilson School.

Moody is a 2001 graduate of the University of Canterbury in her native New Zealand, where she received a BA in political science and a BA in law. Upon graduation, she joined the New Zealand Treasury and worked on immigration and labor market policy issues. Moody then moved to Her Majesty’s Treasury in London, England, where she worked on business and financial regulation, and then participated in a strategic policy team working for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. After three years, she returned home to New Zealand, but en route she worked as a volunteer teacher in the Kibera slums in Kenya, and she remains on the board of the school. Back in New Zealand she worked as economic adviser to the Minister of Finance. After two years Moody went on to serve as New Zealand’s senior adviser to the executive director for Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Mongolia, Cambodia, and the Pacific Islands on the board of the World Bank in Washington, DC. At the Bank, she represented countries in the East Asia Pacific region on the board and worked on financial and risk management issues on the audit committee.

Moody served as the MPP representative on the WWS graduate student government this year and was an organizer of MPP events. She also took the lead in organizing the non-credit leadership discussion seminar with Professor Nan Keohane. Moody plans to return to public service now that she has completed her MPP at the Wilson School.

The Somers Prize was established to honor the memory of Herman M. “Red” Somers, a former WWS faculty member and prominent authority on health care. The Somers prize is awarded to a student with domestic policy interests who has a distinguished academic record and service consistent with the School’s mission. Gregory S. Bangser was the recipients of this year’s Somers Prize.

Bangser graduated from Bowdoin College in 2004 with a double major in government and psychology.

After college he spent a year traveling and working odd jobs before returning to New York City to work with Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC), an organization he had interned with in college. During his five years with NMIC’s legal department, he focused on eviction prevention while he also helped expand their services in public benefits and consumer debt advocacy. He plans on rejoining the Northern Manhattan Improvement Coalition as director of strategic development and operations.


Larry Handerhan and Diego Aragon accept their Stokes prizes from WWS' Dean Christina Paxson.

The Stokes Prize is awarded for academic excellence and public service leadership to the graduating MPA student whose achievements best exemplify the life and work of the late Donald E. Stokes, who was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School from 1974 to 1992. The co-recipients of the 2012 Donald E. Stokes Prize were Diego F. Aragon and Lawrence J. Handerhan.  

Diego Aragon was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and while he was a student at WWS became a U.S. citizen.   He attended Columbia University, where he graduated in 2008 with a BA in economics. He then started working for the research group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During his time at the Fed, his work was focused on the mortgage market; he has worked on foreclosure policy, loan modifications, government-sponsored enterprise reform, and risk analysis of the Federal Housing Administration. 

Aragon concentrated in economics and public policy at WWS and did his summer internship at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland.   He was a representative on the WWS graduate student government, and one of the co-organizers of the 2010 WWS Students and Alumni of Color Symposium.   Aragon also organized the students for a professional development short course on geographic information systems (GIS) this year, and was one of the lead organizers on the WWS-LSE masters’ students’ conference that was held in March 2012, at the London School of Economics. Aragon plans on returning to the New York Federal Reserve Bank to work as a senior analyst/housing specialist.

Born and raised just outside Boston, Larry Handerhan attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine where he earned a degree in modern American history in 2005 and a new found interest in political movements. After graduation he joined AmeriCorps and spent several months assisting Gulf Coast communities affected by Hurricane Katrina. He then moved to San Francisco in 2006 where he worked for Mayor Gavin Newsom and the California Democratic Party. He also served on the board of a local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Democratic Club, and established a LGBT alumni network for his undergraduate alma mater. Before coming to WWS, Handerhan worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington, DC, where he helped launch the office for international and philanthropic innovation.   

Handerhan concentrated in domestic policy at WWS and for worked at HUD for his summer internship.   He served as co-chair of the WWS graduate student government and was also student trustee for the Princeton-Blairstown Center, an outdoor education facility for urban youth. Handerhan has been selected as a presidential management fellow and is currently considering his options for federal government employment.

The David Bradford Award is given to the Science, Technology and Environmental Program (STEP) student who has achieved both a distinguished academic record and a record of service and exemplary citizenship within the STEP program. This year’s recipient was Jacob J. Hartog. 

Hartog majored in biology at Swarthmore College, where he graduated in 2000. Before entering WWS, Hartog was a middle and high school science teacher in the South Bronx, the Lower East Side, and suburban New Jersey, initially as a corps member in CityYear and as part of Teach for America. He also received a master’s degree in education and science education, with a concentration in biology from Brooklyn College in 2008.

Hartog concentrated in economics and public policy and in the summer of 2011 he was selected by Education Pioneers to work with the New Jersey Charter Schools Association for his internship. With graduation behind him, Hartog will join Mathematica Policy Research in Princeton.  

On June 4, Class Day exercises were held honoring the 83 members of WWS’ Undergraduate Class of 2012. During the ceremonies, a number of students were recognized for exceptional merit based on the quality of their thesis and other laudable accomplishments.

The following awards were presented:

The Myron T. Herrick Prize for the best Woodrow Wilson School thesis went to Oren Samet-Marram, for his thesis “‘The People Want….’ Goes Viral: A Study of Factors Influencing the Spread of Protests in the Arab Spring.”

The Lt. John A. Larkin Memorial Prize rewards individuals for the best thesis in the field of political economy or on a broadly interdisciplinary subject in which economics plays the most important part.   Two individuals were the recipients of this year’s prize: Angela Wu for her thesis, “Iceland and Ireland: Financial Crisis Management In and Out of the European Union;” and Rebecca A. Scharfstein for her thesis, “Unintended Consequences: The Effect of Mortgage Credit Expansion on Residential Energy Consumption in California.”

The Woodrow Wilson Senior Thesis Prize is presented for a thesis of unusual merit. An-Ting Liu, with her topic, “Cambodian Civil Society’s Tango with LANGO: Using Social Trust to Consolidate Democracy,” received this prize.

Angela Wu also won the European Union Program Award for the best senior thesis on the European Union. Her thesis, noted above, was titled, “Iceland and Ireland: Financial Crisis Management In and Out of the European Union.”

The Center for Health and Wellbeing awards a prize for outstanding theses written by students earning a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy. An Honorable Mention award this year went to Annette M. Dekker whose thesis was titled, “‘What is Killing Me Most’: Chronic Pain and the Need for Palliative Care in a Rural Community in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.”

Tiennhan T. Phan was presented an Honorable Mention award by the Center for Migration and Development for writing one of the best senior theses in the fields of migration and development.   Phan’s thesis topic was titled, “Coercive State Engineered Mass-Migration: Considerations of Game Theory in Greek Defection.”

The Gale F. Johnson Prize in Public Affairs for progressive excellence in work in the Woodrow Wilson School was given to Ankit Panda.

Charles D. Metzger and Colin G. Quinn were both presented with the Class of 1924 Award for outstanding contributions to Junior Policy Seminars.


Maria Julia Gutierrez and John E. Monagle accept their Donald E. Stokes Dean’s Prize.

Maria Julia Gutierrez and John E. Monagle were both awarded the Donald E. Stokes Dean’s Prize for their significant contributions to the undergraduate program and to the Woodrow Wilson School.

Finally, Adam P. Liff, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics, was awarded the Woodrow Wilson School Undergraduate Program Preceptor Award for exemplary teaching in the Woodrow Wilson School.

Awards presented to Wilson School graduating seniors in other departments included:

Robert S. Ryan was named a co-winner of the David F. Bowers Prize which is awarded for the best work of the American Studies Program.  Robert’s thesis was titled, “Outside Influence: Newspapers and the Death Penalty Appellate Process – Pennsylvania 1994-2002.”

Tal D. Eisenzweig was presented with the Near Eastern Studies Senior Thesis Prize for the best thesis on the Middle East. Her thesis topic was titled, “The Jerusalem Light Rail Train, a Bumpy Ride Through an Ethnically Polarized City.”

Rebecca A. Sharfstein received an Honorable Mention as part of the ENV Senior Thesis Prize for her thesis titled, “ Unintended Consequences: The Effect of Mortgage Credit Expansion on Residential Energy Consumption in California.”

In addition to the awards presented at the Wilson School, three Wilson School undergraduates were the recipients of awards at Princeton University Class Day festivities:

The Allen Macy Dulles '51 Award was presented to Kevin J. Donahue of Middletown, R.I. The award is given to a senior whose activities while at Princeton best represent or exemplify the University's informal motto, “Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations.” Donahue served for two years as a residential college adviser in Whitman College and also led the Whitman College Council's community service efforts. Donahue led freshmen in the Community Action pre-orientation program and served as the community service chair for the Undergraduate Student Government, organizing monthly projects for Princeton students in collaboration with other campus service groups. On the Princeton campus, he organized a tutoring program and a charity 5K run for the children of dining services staff. He also served as a project coordinator for the GetSET Afterschool Program in Trenton, N.J., and led a Breakout Princeton civic action trip through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.

Angela A. Groves of Cleveland was awarded the Harold Willis Dodds Prize. The award recognizes the senior who best embodies the qualities of Princeton's 15th president, Harold Dodds, “particularly in the qualities of clear thinking, moral courage, a patient and judicious regard for the opinions of others, and a thoroughgoing devotion to the welfare of the University and to the life of the mind.” Groves was a residential college adviser in Mathey College. She led freshmen through the community action pre-orientation program and the leadership and mentoring program. She served as a student member of the University's Eating Club Task Force and Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life. In addition to her role as secretary for the Class of 2012, Groves was a member of the Princeton Association of Black Women, the Black Student Union and the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She also has been involved in the local community as a tutor for the GetSET Afterschool Program in Trenton and as a tutor/mentor for elementary school children at the First Baptist Church in Princeton.

The Arthur Lane '34 Award was given to Hilary S. Bartlett, a Wilson School major from New York City. The award honors selfless contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate athlete. Bartlett, a member of the women's tennis team, was a first-team All-Ivy League player for four years and was named Ivy League Player of the Year. She spent her summers working on international causes, such as interning at an environmental organization in Thailand, working at the Council on Foreign Relations and conducting research for the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in India.

We offer special congratulations to these distinguished award recipients and all of our Woodrow Wilson School graduates!