Junior Summer Institute Student Makes Her Mark at UM Morris
Ruby DeBellis ’18 is an achiever, a dreamer, and an optimist. That’s why faculty and students at the University of Minnesota Morris chose her to deliver their 2018 commencement address.
DeBellis, from Bloomington, Minnesota, decided to enroll at Morris four years ago after a friend recommended she compete in Morris’s Community of Scholars event, where she won scholarships covering half her tuition plus a $2,500 stipend. “I ended up having no debt,” she says.
DeBellis’s time at Morris has been marked by numerous opportunities. A big one was getting accepted her junior year into the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute, a seven-week program that prepares undergraduate students for graduate study and careers in public service.
The program is hosted by just five universities around the country. Among Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, and Berkeley, DeBellis chose the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
In between research seminars, guest lecturers, and field trips to places like the Federal Reserve, nonprofits, and Target’s corporate headquarters, she worked on a plan for the opioid crisis in West Virginia.
“They tried to give us the full range of public policy options we could pursue with a degree. It really opened my eyes to what public policy actually is,” says DeBellis.
Recently, she was able to put her PPIA experience to use, writing the City of Morris’ first ever communications plan and policy, which the City Council adopted on May 8.
“That’s a great example of how PPIA has given me skills that I've already put to use in the realm of public policy,” she says.
DeBellis, who graduated with a degree in political science, is still considering her next career move. But she may stick around Morris for a while; two seats on the City Council are up for election in November, and the new graduate has plenty more ideas for the city and may decide to run.
Down the road, DeBellis says she hopes to return to school and pursue an advanced degree.
“I may do a master's degree in public policy, I may go to law school, I may do both,” she says. “Hopefully this next year or two will help me figure that out!”
About the Junior Summer Institute
The Humphrey School Junior Summer Institute (JSI) is a rigorous, seven-week academic program that provides students hands-on experience in addressing society’s grand challenges. It’s 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 Humphrey School JSI is open to students who are entering their senior year of undergraduate study. 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 is tailored to participants’ interests, providing opportunities to complete field-based research and community engagement projects focused on specific issues that inspire them most.
The JSI is fully funded for students and often leads to generous financial aid packages at participating schools.
(Adapted from content written by Adam Overland for University News Service)