Category Archives: PLEN

PLEN: Women in STEM Policy

Erica Fuller majors in public health, and is interested in a career in maternal and child health policy. She recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in STEM Policy seminar, thanks to a grant from Newcomb College Institute.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:

I am in my final year at Tulane University. I found my love for maternal and child health early in my Tulane career, but recently found my interest in health policy. This conference gave me the opportunity to explore my interest and truly decide whether I wanted to work within the field of health. It also gave me a chance to make connections within D.C. that will help me launch my career.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

My favorite part of the conference was the day we spent on Capitol Hill. I loved hearing how to incorporate scientific knowledge into politics. After hearing from panelists, I was able to meet with my congressman and advocate for an issue that I am really passionate about (reforming birth practices in the U.S.). This visit gave me insight into how to enter the field of science policy.

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

Dianna Flett spoke with us early on in the conference on how to speak with confidence. Her talk really set the tone for the conference and showed us how to increase our own confidence and leverage that confidence in the workforce.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

The United States Congress only has a few elected officials that are scientists while other countries such as China have 80% of their elected officials as scientists. When it comes to incorporating science and evidence-based solutions into policy decisions, we need to get more scientists into office and have scientists work with congressmen and congresswomen to make a change.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

The PLEN conference was an amazing experience that connected me with many students and professionals in my area of interest. It is a great opportunity to explore your interests and find out how to best enter your field.

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

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PLEN: Women in Public Policy

Julianna Pasquarello majors in economics and political science, and is interested in a career in public policy and law. She recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) Women in Public Policy seminar, thanks to a grant from Newcomb College Institute (NCI).

 

Tell us about yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:

Coming to college, I understood my passions (law, advocacy, helping others) and my strengths (writing, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and leadership). Despite these understandings, I was still unsure of how exactly I could apply these passions and strengths into a job which both captured my interests and accomplished real-time change. Young adults such as me are often presented with many life-impacting questions such as “What do you wish to accomplish in your life? What do you want to do when you grow up?” Yet without the proper connections to help understand exactly what means exist to accomplish these goals, it can be extremely difficult to find answers to them. My search for answers attracted me to PLEN. Under the recommendation of Heather Johnson, a professor at Newcomb College Institute, I applied for a grant to attend PLEN and took a leap of faith to understand exactly what I wish to accomplish later in life and how I needed to move further along its path.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

My favorite parts of the conference were the speakers who came to discuss their experiences in public policy. Some of my favorite speakers included:

  1. Meredith​ ​Singer​ (Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive at IBM): Meredith serves as a liaison between the federal government and IBM. This plays greatly into her advocacy for IBM “dreamers,” who are now in jeopardy of losing their residency status.
  2. Amy​ ​Marmer​ ​Nice (independent Immigration Policy Advisor & Executive Director of Immigration Policy at the US Chamber of Commerce): A Tulane alumni, Amy has over 25 years of experience advocating on behalf of immigration reform. Speaking to someone with a similar background and education as myself was particularly inspiring.
  3. Marcy​ ​Mistrett​ ​(CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice since 2014): Marcy created ”The Campaign for Youth Justice” which advocates to end youth being charged, sentenced and incarcerated as adults and has led a change in more than 30 states who changed their laws making it more difficult to prosecute children as adults. Ms. Mistrett was a living example of how following your passion to advocate for others and seeing faith in the potential of other individuals can create change.

 

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

At PLEN, I had the opportunity to visit the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (“IWPR”) the leading think-tank in the U.S. that focuses on domestic women’s issues. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s reports and other informational resources have informed policies and programs across the U.S. which affect women’s health and participation in the workforce. At the Institute, I spoke to two researchers and I came to understand how research organizations play unique and important roles in policy formation. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research places an emphasis on its bipartisan approach as it is imperative to conduct research from an impartial point of view to most effectively inform policymakers who affect change. As a result of my experience, I see a future for myself in research with the ultimate goal to help create change.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

PLEN taught me four important lessons:

  1. The most important work you do is when you are not on the ballot.
  2. Opportunity is another word for hard work. Do not overlook the small things.
  3. Your perceived personality is another person’s reality. Be aware of what you say, and how you say it.
  4. Politics, like all work, is local. Do not undervalue the people and network around you.

PLEN taught me that the combinations of hard work and understanding the value of the resources which surround you will lead you to a happy, successful career. I will carry these lessons with me going forward both at Tulane and later as both a professional and as an individual who wishes to affect changes.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

Throughout my time at Tulane, I have met incredible women who possess great potential to enact change in this world. Each have their own dreams and continue to inspire me. I would advise these students to try to attend a PLEN conference because PLEN gives students the skills and connections to leverage this very potential which awes and inspires me every day.

To any female Tulane student reaching this: take a leap of faith and apply. Besides some of the obvious positives (such as visiting our nation’s Capital and meeting with legislators) PLEN truly is at the forefront of placing female leaders into contact with the right opportunities and people who can help them discover and accomplish their potential. Attending PLEN is not just an investment in your future, it is an investment in yourself.

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

PLEN: Women in STEM Policy

Ellyn Frohberg studies public health and psychology, and is interested in a career in science and healthcare policy, policy research, or mental health. She recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in STEM Policy seminar.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:

As a student, it is easy to feel helpless in implementing substantial and sustainable change. My interest in attending the Women in STEM Policy PLEN workshop in Washington D.C. took root in my wish to streamline my goals and pinpoint what I can do to begin to create change in my community. I am increasingly interested in how policy can positively shape society, and wanted to know how I can combine my interest in science with policy that is helpful and transformative.

Through an internship at an addiction recovery center, I recognized the need for policy that helps and supports those struggling with illness inside and outside of the clinic. I also recognized public health as the conduit that can provide the framework to protect vulnerable populations and prevent illness. Furthermore, I am passionate about establishing equity within healthcare.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

My favorite parts of the conference included the networking opportunities during site visits. Meeting with professionals at organizations such as HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) and the NIH (National Institute of Health) increased my interest in the field and helped me to establish clear and achievable short and long term goals to best suit my interests and the needs of my intended career.

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

I would like to highlight the Health Resources and Services Administration and the women who graciously hosted us for the afternoon we visited. This particular office space was filled with contagious passion for helping others. Each woman brought different skills and experiences to the table that expanded my vision of how incredible and influential we each have the power to be in our future careers.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

I hope to never forget the importance of others in building a career. A good conversation, a true connection with a stranger, or a mentor can change your life if you are open to it.  Furthermore, there is room for everyone’s talents. Time with peers truly is better spent in fellowship with one another rather than in competition.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

PLEN can provide the resources and connections you need to make tangible steps in determining what career path is right for you. I think, especially for STEM majors, students are not often introduced to options outside of medical school and research. This conference introduced me to all the options I have in STEM, and how my degree can help me to advance policy. I would also like to give a huge thank you to NCI. This experience was incredible, and I am so grateful for the support and funding.


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

PLEN: Women in STEM Policy

Meet Lauren Bartels! She majors in chemical engineering and is interested in environmental/sustainability science-policy work. She recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in STEM Policy seminar.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:

Ever since I was young, I knew I was destined to pursue a degree rooted in science. As I grew older, I began to realize the excitement I felt when tasked with any sort of challenge, so I looked for a degree which would serve to strengthen my critical-thinking skills. After much research, I declared a chemical engineering major and have not looked back.

Despite my love for engineering, I realized I wanted to utilize my degree beyond the typical engineering career paths. A previous summer internship in Washington, D.C. had introduced me to the world of science-policy, and I became eager to learn more about the intersection of these fields. I saw the Women in STEM Policy PLEN conference as a means for both broadening my knowledge of science-policy careers and introducing me to many respected women in the field.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

I honestly enjoyed every aspect of the conference, as I learned so much more than I could have anticipated. However, one of my favorite parts was the fact I was constantly surrounded by powerful women who shared my passion for science-policy. Not only were all of the speakers and panelists renowned in their respective areas of expertise, but the other students attending the conference were extremely inspirational. Although the importance of science-driven policy cannot be overemphasized, the opportunities for scientists to influence politics often goes unaddressed. Scientists are severely underrepresented in influential government positions, so I was encouraged by the enthusiasm demonstrated by my peers.

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Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

Although I am intrigued by all science-related polices, my particular interests revolve around environmental policies. One afternoon during the conference, we were split into small groups and sent to visit the location of an organization focused on a particular policy issue. My group was sent to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which is an environmental advocacy group driven by scientific research. We were able to meet a variety of employees in their D.C. office in an informal atmosphere, where they educated us on the work of the EDF and answered any questions we had about the organization or science-policy in general. I gained valuable knowledge from this site visit, and the trip only strengthened my interest in environmental policy.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

Although each of the panels throughout the seminar focused on a different topic, one question was repeatedly asked: how did you reach the career you hold today? Regardless of the specific career field, all answers emphasized the idea of “planned luck.” An individual must be active in pursuing diverse opportunities; however, one cannot predict where each opportunity will lead. I learned a career in science-policy does not result from particular choices throughout one’s education and early career but rather one’s eagerness to learn and desire to improve.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

Women in STEM Policy was the specific PLEN conference I attended, but PLEN hosts numerous other conferences to prepare women for leadership positions in the public policy arena. Even if you are unsure you are interested in public policy, maintaining knowledge of the political process benefits many aspects of your life and enhances your ability to think critically about a variety of issues. Furthermore, networking is key, and PLEN allows you to meet many professionals and other students with extremely diverse backgrounds. No one will leave PLEN without learning something new and creating fond memories!

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

PLEN: Women in Public Policy

Meet Katie Donahue! She studies political science, social policy/practice, and Italian, and she’s interested in working in campaign finance or nonprofit fundraising. She recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in Public Policy seminar.
Tell us about yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:
I’m a senior in the midst of a career search and thought that experiencing D.C. and hearing from those who held jobs I may be interested in or not know about would be a productive way to spend the last week of winter break! It was a really fulfilling experience and I enjoyed meeting Tulane students that attended the conference as well as those from universities across the country.
What were your favorite parts of the conference?
I really enjoyed the opportunity to network with my peers from other universities and hear about their studies. The breakout panels on immigration and criminal justice were fascinating, and the women who spoke to us on those issues were truly leaders in their fields. It was interesting to learn more about topics that I was interested in and to explore new areas in a setting like this conference.
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Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:
One of my favorite speakers was Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. She highlighted the importance of work at the local and state level, which can sometimes be portrayed as less important than federal work, but can truly be more impactful. She spoke to us like the responsible young adults we are and really took the time to address our concerns and questions.
Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:
The importance of networking and relationship building has been drilled into my head and I’m sure I won’t forget it soon! Another thing that became clear during the seminar is that there is truly no one path to success. We heard from so many wonderful women who had chosen vastly different schools, internships, and jobs, but all ended up in fantastic and fulfilling careers. As one of our speakers put it, it’s really more of a career “jungle gym” than a ladder.
Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?
PLEN did a great job of ensuring that we heard from people with very difference life paths and different opinions, so there really was something for everyone in the seminar. I learned so much about my professional and academic options and will definitely keep in touch with the peers and mentors I met.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

PLEN: Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy

Meet Rayne Pestello! Rayne is majoring in economics and international development and minoring in political science. She also recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in Law and Legal Advocacy seminar.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend this PLEN seminar:

Like any good female political science student, I had intentions of becoming president as a child.  While I have changed that dream (and my major) many times, the need to be involved in the policy making process and the events happening all over the world has not faded.  I wanted to attend the PLEN conference because I knew that in addition to the technical skills that classes give you, I had to address the practical skills as well.  Meeting like-minded people, networking, and understanding what a career may look like were all important to me.  In addition, every person I know who attended a PLEN conference returned raving about the experience, so I knew it was something I had to do.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

My favorite parts were hearing from and meeting all of the wonderful women speakers who participated in the question and answer panels.  Many were PLEN (and even Tulane) alumnae and hearing about their positions and career paths was not only fascinating but also relieving.  Right now, I do not have a clear idea of what I want my future to look like.  Hearing that they also felt like they made it up as they went in the early stages of their careers was humanizing and made me feel like I was less directionless. It is possible to have a successful and meaningful career even if you do not know initially how to begin.

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

While there are so many incredible women who spoke about their lives, the one that sticks out in my brain was the panel on Careers on the Hill.  It was fascinating to hear how many different roles there are in the government and how exciting these jobs are.  While I knew I was interested in working on the hill, I had no idea how badly I wanted it until I heard them speak.  It was hard to wrap my head around the idea that the women in front of me played an active role in shaping the law that affects us every day and that I could do it, too.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

The lesson I learned that I will go back to for my entire working life is to stop doubting yourself.  Imposter syndrome is overwhelmingly present in women; you have to know you are qualified for jobs you may feel you are not, and you do have something to valuable to contribute.  You deserve to be in the job you are in, and you also deserve more.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

In addition to meeting so many wonderful women, both students and professionals, there are also concrete skills to be developed.  Salary negotiation, networking, and assertiveness are wildly important, and I more wholly developed these skills at PLEN.  They are often boring and even uncomfortable to learn, but having them under your belt is empowering (an learning them by making a mistake is more uncomfortable for sure).

 

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

PLEN: Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership

Meet Alexa Kimmel! She is a psychology major minoring in political science and public health. She also recently attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar in DC.

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Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend this PLEN conference:

I wanted to attend the conference so I can learn and develop the skills necessary to be successful in a nonprofit setting after graduation.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

All aspects of the conference were extremely informative and insightful, but my favorite part of the conference was meeting so many different women leaders in a variety of positions who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

The keynote speaker, Ms. Gabriella Morris, the partnerships director for UNICEF USA was absolutely incredible.

What did you learn that you hope to never forget?

I learned how to enter a field or career path that may seem unattainable based on prior background.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

The skills and abilities I developed from attending the conference and meeting with leaders across a variety of nonprofit and corporate fields are invaluable.

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

 

PLEN: Women and Congress

Jacqueline networking

Meet Jacqueline Landry! A major in political science and economics, she attended the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) seminar on Women and Congress.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the PLEN conference:

I was interested in attending the PLEN conference because I am graduating this semester, and I’m still not sure exactly what path I want my career to take. I heard from peers who had attended previous conferences that PLEN calmed their fears about not having a specific path in mind, and taught them the skills they needed for postgrad success in Washington, such as networking and salary negotiation.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

The most rewarding part of the conference was the opportunity to meet women from every facet of the policymaking process and learning about their perspectives and the paths they took to their current positions. It was a great comfort and inspiration to meet so many successful women who had taken varied and often winding paths to their current posts, and to hear them express their willingness to help other young women find their way as well! The conference made me realize that there is no one straight path to success, and that there are many people who will help you along your way.

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

One of the most immediately beneficial speakers was Ms. Perleoni, who taught us the specifics of how to network in the political world. I had always been told to “network, network, network!” but she gave us a step-by-step guide to how that process actually works. Now I can take the advice everyone has been giving me!

What’s something you learned that you hope to never forget?

I hope to never forget that supporting other women is crucial in making the world a more equitable place. Any success I have in life will be largely due to the countless women who have gone out of their way to support me, and it is my honor and responsibility to pay that forward.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

PLEN gives you the skills, networks, and confidence you need to approach a career in public policy. There is nothing else like it.

PLEN: Women and Congress

Meet Eleanor! She is majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations, and wants to eventually work in international development and relief or public policy. Eleanor attended Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)’s Women in Congress seminar this spring.

 

Describe yourself and tell us why you wanted to attend the Women in Congress seminar:

I am a soon-to-be graduating senior, and am obviously looking for a job post-graduation. I have always been interested in government and public policy, especially on the international scale. I wanted to attend the PLEN conference because I wanted real exposure to what life was like in Washington, D.C. for a person working in policy, whether it be domestic or international. I also wanted to learn more about potential jobs/career paths I could have if I ever decided to live in Washington, D.C.

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What were your favorite parts of the conference?

Probably my favorite part was being able to meet all the incredible women that were learning with me on the conference and are currently working in D.C. I learned so much from everyone, and I feel like I have whole new group of friends! Another favorite part of the conference was the networking night PLEN put on. It was a great opportunity to practice our networking skills and we got to meet awesome people in the process!

Highlight a speaker or a job site you visited:

A huge highlight for me was listening to Clare Bresnahan speak on behalf of the She Should Run campaign. She spoke about the dire need for women to run for public office. Before hearing her speak, I never thought about ever running for public office in my life, but after hearing her I feel a lot more inspired to run one day. I had never felt so motivated and inspired by a speaker in my life before her.

Tell us something you learned that you hope to never forget:

Something I learned that I hope to never forget is the feeling of complete and absolute empowerment. This conference taught me to not question my capabilities. I learned that I should not hold myself back just for the sake of other people or for the fear of failure. It was an incredible week.

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

Students should attend a PLEN conference because it is life-changing. You will gain real world experience in networking, life on and off the hill, and be able to meet incredible people along the way. Before this conference I was terrified of graduating and going out into the real world, but now I feel confident in my next steps after graduation all due to the things I learned from PLEN.

Eleanor Unknown

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

PLEN: Women in STEM Policy

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Meet Annelise Blanchard! She’s a psychology and gender and sexuality studies major, with a minor in French.

Tell us about yourself and why you wanted to attend this Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) conference:

I’m a senior graduating in May, and I’m still trying to nail down exactly what type of job I want to pursue next year. I want to eventually work in psychology, and hopefully help women and LGBTQ individuals. I’ve been considering a future as a psychologist or social worker, but I was interested in learning of other potential career paths, such as with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) policy, that would lead to the same outcomes.

Describe your favorite parts of the conference:

I enjoyed hearing how our speakers all came to STEM policy from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many had PhDs in biology or chemistry, and later went on to work in health care policy, or at different governmental agencies, such as the NSF or FDA. Others studied policy in college, and later went into STEM policy fields. I also really enjoyed speakers who gave us concrete advice and techniques for scenarios all students will be facing in the future, such as networking or negotiating a raise.

Highlight a speaker you enjoyed or a job site you visited:

My favorite panel spoke on “Minority Health Research and Health Disparities.” We had three different speakers, one who worked in the Office of Minority Health, another who worked with a clinic specializing in LGBTQ health, and a speaker from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. They spoke about using research and data to identify health disparities, and then working to address the health disparities. I’ve always wanted to work in psychology helping women and LGBTQ individuals, and it’s so heartening to see that there are also ways to affect minority health through policy work.

What did you learn that you hope to never forget?

Be open to new opportunities and career paths. Many of the women we spoke to started out with a different career in mind, but stumbled across an opportunity to start working in STEM policy. Also, always send thank you notes (or emails).

Why should other students attend a PLEN conference?

At PLEN, you meet so many driven and influential women, who are doing their best to affect STEM policy in important ways. We heard so much helpful advice about applying to grad school, and then pursuing jobs and careers after grad school. Equally as important, students who attend PLEN meet fifty other students from schools across the country who are equally as passionate about science and STEM policy.

 


Does this sound like something you might be interested in?  Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend PLEN conferences. Email Betsy Lopez at elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.