Advocating for a Better Future: Rockefeller Hosts 2nd PPIA Public Service Weekend

Advocating for a Better Future: Rockefeller Hosts 2nd PPIA Public Service Weekend

PPIA Group Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — In partnership with the Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the University at Albany’s nationally ranked Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy hosted 29 undergraduate students from 19 universities spanning the country for a weekend dedicated to exploring opportunities in public service, October 25-27 in Albany, N.Y.

PPIA’s mission is to promote the inclusion and full participation of underrepresented groups in public service and to advance their leadership roles throughout civic institutions serving domestic and international affairs.

With a theme of “Ensuring Accountability and Integrity – Public Service as a Force for Positive Change,” Rockefeller College’s Public Service Weekend helped students gain a better understanding of career options in public service and the knowledge and skills needed to get them on the path of their choice.

"The PPIA weekend was the first time I put serious thought into what good, as an individual, I can do," said UAlbany sophomore Jack McEachern. "The program introduced me to people and organizations that expanded my perspective on what it means to do public service. It was so inspiring to meet individuals doing good work and learning how I can be a part of that. The other PPIA participants were so welcoming and inspiring; I now have a huge network of friends with amazing passions and stories. Because of PPIA weekend, I now plan to obtain an advanced degree after finishing my bachelor's."

The three-day weekend began at the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza with a tour of the New York State Capitol, followed by professional etiquette basics, and a state and local government panel discussion with Rockefeller College alumni at the Legislative Office Building. In the evening, students had the opportunity to mingle with University at Albany leadership, alumni, faculty, and staff, and hear from keynote speaker Carl E. Heastie, the 100th Speaker of the New York State Assembly, over dinner at the Corning Tower Observation Deck.

Day two was packed with panel discussions, featuring prominent local, state, and federal officials, on the topics of diversity and inclusion, confronting complex policy challenges, and effectuating change. Rockefeller College Dean R. Karl Rethemeyer led an interactive networking simulation before students were then divided into three groups and given real-life public service challenges on the topics of identity and discrimination, the federal budgeting process, and hydraulic fracturing. The PPIA participants were asked to research, assess, and present their findings and solutions to the rest of the cohort on Sunday morning.

“I was extremely impressed with the students I had a chance to work with in the environmental policy break out group,” said Rockefeller Associate Professor Jennifer Dodge. “They did a tremendous job analyzing the political and scientific issues related to making public decisions about gas extraction. Their presentation on this topic to the full group was well beyond my expectations. I would be happy to have any of these students join our MPA program.”

The weekend concluded with breakout sessions focused on interviewing skills, resume writing, and learning more about graduate programs in public affairs. Lastly, the participants were sent off with a special video message from United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I am thrilled that you have had the opportunity to attend the Public Policy & International Affairs Program’s Public Service Weekend at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I commend your drive to serve our communities and our nation. Your passion for public service is both inspiring and necessary, and your work will make a difference not only locally, but to our democracy as a whole. Following this weekend, I urge you to look forward, welcome the challenges ahead, and keep advocating for a better future.”

To view more photos from the weekend, click here.