On Dec. 14, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) announced that 14 students have been selected to join the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI), now in its 15th year. The initiative funds undergraduate summer internships and graduate fellowships in various branches of the federal government.
Representing seven academic concentrations, the students join an active community of over 100 student scholars.
“The initiative aims to provide students with the professional skills needed to succeed in the public policy arena,” according to the SPIA statement.
Ethan Kahn ’22, Sarah Lee ’22, Joe Shipley ’22, and Ryan Sung ’22 will join the 2022 cohort of SINSI graduate scholars. This program entails a two-year Master in Public Affairs program at SPIA and two years of fellowships in federal agencies — all fully funded by the initiative.
Ten students — Ana Blanco ’23, Dillion Gallagher ’23, Ella Gantman ’23, Aaron Hilton ’23, Mary Elizabeth Marquardt ’23, Coley Martin ’23, Brandon McNeely ’23, Leila Owens ’23, Bradley Rindos ’23, and Natalia Zorrilla ’23 — were selected as SINSI interns, the largest cohort of interns yet. They will participate in fully funded summer internships with the United States government for eight to 10 weeks.
“Once again, we had a spectacular group of candidates, deeply committed to service here and in their home communities. Their range of interests and experiences will be of great value to the federal government,” said Kathryn Lunney and Frederick Barton, the Co-Directors of SINSI, in the announcement.
Kahn concentrates in the Department of Near Eastern Studies with certificates in Computer Science, Values and Public Life, and Arabic. Before coming to Princeton, he spent nine months in Bolivia as part of Princeton’s Novogratz Bridge Year Program. He has since interned in Amman, Jordan with the Middle East Scientific Institute for Security and has also worked in Lod, Israel in Arabic and English education.
“I am most excited to learn from professors, peers, and coworkers who will challenge me to think critically and evaluate/develop policy that is both grounded in rigorous analysis and sensitive to the needs, narratives, and values of those it impacts,” Kahn wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
Lee is concentrating in the Department of Sociology with a certificate in Asian American Studies. She has worked as an English teaching assistant in Kenya and conducted research for a child abuse and neglect resource helpline during her internship with the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department. Lee outlined her hopes for her future placement site in an email to the ‘Prince.’
“My internship and research experiences in the Eviction Lab, Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing and Infrastructure team, and my thesis on landlord-tenant dynamics in immigrant enclaves have sparked my interest in fair housing legislation and affordable housing infrastructure. I'm interested in working in Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity or the Department of Justice's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section,” she wrote.
Shipley concentrates in the Department of History with a certificate in Russian Language and Culture. He is a leading voice of Vote100, a campus campaign promoting electoral participation and civic responsibility. With an interest in promoting sustainable infrastructure and equitable public policy, he hopes to work in the Departments of Justice, State, and Transportation.
“I think the fact that programs like this exist — that education of this caliber can be tied to public service — is incredibly meaningful in and of itself, but to be given an opportunity like this alongside the opportunity to use it in the public sector is something rare and special,” Shipley wrote.
Sung, who concentrates in SPIA with a certificate in East Asian Studies, volunteered at a non-governmental organization focused on child welfare in Kunming, China through the Novogratz Bridge Year Program. He also served as the Director of Career and Alumni Relations for the Princeton U.S.-China Coalition. He plans to pursue a career in foreign service and hopes to receive a placement in the State Department.
“Not only is SINSI immensely beneficial to its members, it's accessible to all students who look to better the world through service. As a low-income kid from the border, it truly means the world to me to be able to represent my family and my community in such an impactful position,” Sung wrote.
Blanco is concentrating in SPIA with certificates in Latin American studies and French. Blanco has previously interned with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. While details of the SINSI internships are still to be finalized, she hopes to intern with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance.
“I want to learn more about how to ethically and sustainably do electoral assistance work. There’s been a shift towards actually working with local communities and domestic organizations to equip them with the tools to facilitate elections, so that once international actors leave there’s a robust system built on trust that remains,” she wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
Gallagher is a SPIA concentrator with certificates in East Asian Studies as well as Statistics and Machine Learning. In the summer of 2021, he worked as an advocacy and public health intern at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. At the time of publication, he will be interning with the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
“I've always seen government service as a natural career path, and as a first-generation American and a first-generation, low-income college student, I am so thankful to be able to give back to this country with an opportunity that is lifetimes in the making,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
Gallagher is an opinion columnist for the 'Prince.'
Gantman concentrates in SPIA with a certificate in Spanish Language and Culture. She is a co-founder of the Poll Hero Project, which recruited over 37,000 young people as election workers for the 2020 election. She is also a goalkeeper on the varsity women’s soccer team, a student supervisor at Tiger Call through Princeton’s Annual Giving office, and a fellow at the Princeton Writing Center.
“I am looking forward to bringing my passion for racial justice and gender justice to Washington, D.C. to ensure that the intersections of these issues are considered at every table,” she said in an email to the 'Prince.'
Hilton, a participant in the Princeton/Rutgers Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, is concentrating in SPIA with certificates in Contemporary European Politics and Society, European Cultural Studies, French Language and Culture, and History and Practice of Diplomacy. Prior to commissioning in the US Navy, he hopes to work in the defense and intelligence branches of the government, according to the SPIA press release.
Hilton did not respond to requests for comment from the ‘Prince’ by the time of publication.
Marquardt concentrates in the Department of History with a certificate in African American Studies. She worked for Stacey Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign and for the 2020 Democratic Party of Georgia’s campaign .
“I’m looking to work in a federal agency that has the power to make gains in civil rights, with specific focuses on voting rights or education access. These are two issues that I think are of paramount importance right now, and coming from a background of electoral organizing in Georgia, they’re ones that I’ve talked to voters about for years,” she wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
Martin participated in the Bridge Year Program in Bolivia, volunteering with a therapy center for survivors of violence. This experience informed her interest in combining social justice and combating climate change as a concentrator in civil and environmental engineering. Martin also has certificates in African American Studies, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies.
“My passion for environmental justice makes me eager to work in sectors where I can explore sustainability solutions, clean air and water technologies, and climate justice. More specifically, I hope to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where I can research and explore the feasibility of different net-zero pathways and various sources of renewable energy,” she wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
McNeely is concentrating in SPIA with a certificate in American Studies. With support from Princeton’s Pace Center, he organized a tutoring program with the Young Scholars’ Institute of Trenton (YSI).
“I am looking to work in the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. As someone personally afflicted by educational inequity and discrimination, helping ameliorate some of these problems has become one of my life goals. This summer, by working at the OCR, I am hoping to gain a better understanding of systematic solutions to civil rights violations,” he wrote.
Owens concentrates in civil and environmental engineering with a Sustainable Energy certificate. She has interned with the Faith for Earth Initiative at the United Nations Environment Programme, focusing on the intersection between the environment and ethics. She also spent nine months in India through the Bridge Year Program.
“I'm grateful for the opportunity to apply what I've been studying at Princeton to the federal government,” she wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
Rindos, an Air Force ROTC cadet, concentrates in mechanical and aerospace engineering with History and Practice of Diplomacy and Robotics certificates. He is interested in both international relations and how best to defend democracy through the military.
“After graduating Princeton, I hope to fly for the United States Air Force. While Air Force ROTC has prepared me with the skills to be a leader at an operational level, this summer I hope to hone my skills as a ‘Warrior-Diplomat’ and contextualize global affairs,” he wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
Zorrilla concentrates in Philosophy with Values and Public Life as well as Latin American Studies certificates. She is passionate about combating homelessness through a data-based approach. During the summer of 2021, she interned in the office of Todd Gloria, mayor of San Diego. The summer before that, she worked with Arm in Arm, a non-profit that aims to provide food, housing, and job support for Mercer County families.
“Mentorship is a big part of what attracted me to SINSI. I’m really grateful for the help that Kit Lunney and Rick Barton [the program’s directors] have provided in my search so far, and I know there’s a network of SINSI alumni I can draw on as well. Since I’m ultimately hoping to go into housing law, I also think that being able to engage with people who do that for a living will help me along my path,” Zorrilla wrote in an email to the 'Prince.'
Tara Agarwal is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.