Humphrey School News—June 11, 2019

Humphrey School Welcomes Future Policy Leaders for Annual Junior Summer Institute

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A group shot of the 22 Junior Summer Institute fellows on their first day at the University of Minnesota.
The 22 Junior Summer Institute fellows for 2019 on their first day at the University of Minnesota. (Photo: Cara Claflin)

Nearly two dozen college students from around the country are converging on the Humphrey School of Public Affairs this week to explore their budding interests in public policy through the Junior Summer Institute (JSI) program, designed to prepare them for graduate school and careers in public service.

The 22 students in this year’s cohort come from Minnesota and nine other states, including New York, California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Maryland. Some are immigrants from Africa and Latin America, while others are the first generation in their families to attend college. What they all share is a desire to work in public service and a commitment to advancing the common good.

“I’m pleased to welcome this group of talented and accomplished students to the Humphrey School for this year’s Junior Summer Institute,” says Dean Laura Bloomberg. “The JSI program is a key aspect of our mission to provide opportunities for promising leaders to pursue work that advances the common good, especially those from historically marginalized groups.”

This is the third year the Humphrey School is hosting the JSI, an intensive seven-week training experience designed to prepare rising seniors—mostly from underrepresented communities—to thrive in master’s degree programs and launch careers in public service.

The program equips them with leadership and management skills, problem-solving techniques, and an understanding of how to analyze data when making critical decisions to help address complex social challenges. It also provides opportunities for students to complete field-based research and community engagement projects focused on specific issues that inspire them most.

While they’re here, the JSI fellows will be immersed in coursework on policy analysis, statistics, economic policy, and other subjects that solidify their readiness for graduate school. They’ll also visit community organizations and landmarks including the Minnesota State Capitol, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Impact Hub innovation network, and others.

“Connecting with other driven, thoughtful, and caring individuals is not a common occurrence on college campuses,” says Dante Moss, who completed the Humphrey School JSI program last year and earned his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. “JSI is a great opportunity to build relationships, and learn from others about the multitude of experiences and perspectives out there. Working closely in groups was the most educational experience from the program. [It] forced us to use what we were learning in class and apply it … and find common answers.”

The fellows in this year’s cohort match that description well; they’re driven and thoughtful individuals who participate in a wide variety of academic and service-oriented activities.

One student, for example, has spent time in Ghana and will work with an organization there that shelters children from trafficking. Another student who grew up in a small town in Minnesota is doing undergraduate research on rural development, and wants to work on policies that can address the “brain drain” from rural areas. Others have worked on political campaigns or student government, or promoted social causes such as immigration, environmental issues, and racial and gender equity.

The JSI program is part of the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program, which is committed to promoting the inclusion of underrepresented groups in master’s degree programs and careers in public service.

The University of Minnesota is one of five universities across the country to host a JSI, which is fully funded and often leads to generous financial aid packages at participating schools. The others are Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley. 

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