Woody Woos Run For Refugees

Nov 11, 2015
Isabella (Mizzi) Gomes, ‘16
Woodrow Wilson School

In early October, 11 graduate students from the Woodrow Wilson School ran the Princeton Half Marathon.

While proceeds from this year’s annual race benefitted the local non-profit Princeton HiTOPS, a health education and advocacy organization that provides youth with sexuality education, Wilson School students also raised money through a self-created online fundraiser for the refugee crisis campaign led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

“As public policy students, we pay a lot of attention to issues, studying in a classroom, but it’s also good to be able to try to affect things on the ground for worthy causes. It becomes more than just studying a problem,” said Ryan Stoffers MPA ’17, who focuses his studies on domestic policy at the Woodrow Wilson School.

The IRC responds to humanitarian crises around the world. Working in more than 40 countries and 25 American cities, the IRC provides health care, infrastructure, educational and economic support, with special programs designed for women and children. The IRC was recently represented at the recent Princeton-Fung Global Forum held in Dublin, Ireland, on lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak.

The Committee’s most recent mission has been its role as the an international relief agency responding to the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, helping with advocacy, communications and resettlement of families to the U.S. The students’ summer fundraiser for the half marathon, “Running for Refugees,” helped raise funds for this goal.

Many of the students were already runners. They woke up at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, to meet before the half marathon to stretch and cheer each other on. Many were already close friends —relationships that grew from the early bonding of three weeks of the Wilson School’s “math camp” that welcomes each first-year MPA student.

“Everyone got to know each other pretty quickly. We have an active Facebook group, trivia nights, restaurant nights, poker games, group athletic activities like squash and a student government with a social chair that organizes events,” Stoffers said.

Together, the students raised $1,180 for IRC, reaching 145,948 people through social media.

“I think events like this are great, but I’d also like to see events for local issues in Trenton,” Stoffers said. “Princeton is geographically close to places that need help, and there are a lot of groups in those areas doing good work.”

Many MPA students also hope to develop a community with Wilson undergraduate students and have begun mentorship programs to connect individuals from different cohorts who have similar interests. They also plan to include undergraduate students in future events such as the Princeton Half Marathon to encourage participation and engagement with causes related to public policy.

If you are interested in donating to the students’ fundraiser on behalf of IRC, visit this page.