Kathryn Lige, 2017 Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) Undergraduate Fellow


Name: Kathryn Lige      Major: Social Work         Minor: Spanish       Graduation Date: May 2018

April 2017

Name of award and a brief description:

The Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program (PPIA) is designed to help students achieve a Master’s or joint degree, typically in public policy, public administration, international affairs or a related field. The organization does this through the intensive study provided by participation in a Junior Summer Institute (JSI), through partnerships with universities across the country, and through an alumni network that provides opportunities to connect with nearly 4000 individuals who share the same interest in public service.

Each year, PPIA seeks out high-potential undergraduate students from universities across the country to participate in an intensive seven-week Junior Summer Institute (JSI) before their senior year. During their program, fellows are equipped with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in graduate school and ultimately, in influential roles serving the public good.

Once a student has successfully completed their JSI, they join an alumni network of nearly 4,000 leaders. In addition to the opportunities that this network provides for mentoring and career development, our alumni network has the opportunity to receive financial support for their graduate school education if they attend one of the programs in our Graduate School Consortium.

What are your future educational and career goals?

When I graduate in May 2018, my next step will be graduate school. My dream is to receive my Masters of Social Work at Columbia University, but I’m also open to other top out of state Social Work schools. After graduating with my masters, I will begin my supervised hours to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This license will allow me to perform direct mental health services. I plan to use this time to fully understand the needs of children, adolescents, and young adults, and particularly the vulnerable population of this age range. The ultimate goal is to work toward public administration with a generational approach (a theory emphasizing youth) to politics. Eventually I’d like to find my place in the government whether that be as a council member, senator, or the president (go big or go home, right?).

What inspired you to apply for this award?

Public policy and international affairs has sparked an interest in me as a social worker over the last year or so. I realized that I wanted to reach more people than I will in direct service. The PPIA program was just the right program to step my foot into public policy/administration. I wanted to see what I’d be getting myself into before I commit to any macro level path. It intrigued me how many prestigious schools participated in their Graduate School Consortium! I’ve been more adamant about preparing for graduate school applications. I also saw a lot of potential at the University of Minnesota’s JSI to learn how to use my social work skills in politics.

What was the most challenging part of the application process?

The most challenging part of the application was coming up with what to write. When you have a hard time writing about your life or maybe even too many experiences you want to include, space and wording are very tricky. Once you submit your application, it is your only impression so you have to make sure it is put together as much as possible. It took me a long time to figure out what examples fit the application best. I found myself wanting to say too much, but I eventually narrowed it down.

What tips or suggestions do you have for future applicants?

GET TO KNOW YOURSELF! Find out what you believe are important experiences your life and write about them. It will be useful to you when you write your personal statements. After that, you should be able to identify what was significant to you and what you can write most about. Also, do your research on possible positions you see yourself in. You may find out that a specific job title you thought you wanted to work towards isn’t exactly want you want to be doing. This application prepares you to look into what you want out of grad school, so start a grad school search. You may be surprised by special programs universities offer and see if that school is in the Graduate School Consortium.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I think people would be surprised to know that if I had to choose any other profession than social work, I would want to be a movie director! I always dreamed of moving to LA for acting when I was younger, but as I got older, I realized that I had a calling elsewhere. I saw actors and actresses as influential people that encouraged others to be whomever they wanted. Now I have found a profession where I hope to enable others to be whoever they are/want to be.

Update: Kathryn was also recently selected to attend a PPIA Public Service Weekend at UC San Diego in April!


For more information about the PPIA Undergraduate Fellowship, please contact NISFeP.