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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- The most important work you do is when you are not on the ballot.
- Opportunity is another word for hard work. Do not overlook the small things.
- Your perceived personality is another person’s reality. Be aware of what you say, and how you say it.
- 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 email@example.com for more information.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.