The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

First Year Fellows

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Chris Rowan

Chris Rowan Kouekem ’19 is from New York City, NY and graduated from Democracy Prep Charter School as the highest achieving scholar for Math and Civics. While at Democracy Prep, Chris participated in student government for all four of her high school years. Chris is fluent in French and worked as a teacher intern helping to build a curriculum for high school and middle school teachers that improves the quality of linguistic and cultural education for bilingual students.

As a First-Year Fellow, Chris worked at the DC Prep Charter School under the mentorship of Deborah Hamner ’99. Her primary responsibility was assisting the summer school teachers in preparing for the parent-teacher conference that took place at the end of the summer. The task required a lot of communication with staff and parents. The role afforded Chris many opportunities to put into practice the tips on effective communication and professionalism she and the other Fellows learned during Civic Skills Training in the spring.  

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Claire Rafson

Claire Rafson ’19 hails from Highland Park, Illinois, graduating from Highland Park High School.

Claire spent her First-Year Fellowship interning in the Chambers of Judge John Mott ’81 at the District of Columbia Superior Court. As a Judicial intern, she learned to prepare case briefs, bench memorandum, studied case law and assisted the Law Clerk during a trial.

“Being able to watch some of DC’s best lawyers in their environment is something I will never forget,” says Claire. “Additionally, being able to ask Judge Mott questions along the way allowed me to understand the proceedings and really expand my knowledge beyond just reading and writing for other cases.”

Following her summer interning at the Superior Court, Claire spent the fall term off campus working as a Field Organizer for the Ohio Democratic Party.

At Dartmouth, Claire is studying History with a minor in Economics. She is a member of SHEBA Dance Troupe, an active participant in the Dartmouth Outing Club, and a student facilitator for the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors program.

After graduating, Claire plans to attend law school.

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Ryan Spector

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Ryan Spector ’19 graduated Glenbrook North High School and he continues to serve as Glenbrook North Debate Team’s assistant coach.

As a First-Year Fellow, Ryan was placed at the Congressional Research Service with alumnae Mentor, Mary Beth Nikiti ’96 in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division. During the 8-week experience, Ryan was tasked with research and analytic tasks and had the opportunity to work with multiple members of staff.  

His favorite element of the fellowship experience was living with the other students in the program. “Not only were they a support system, but it was incredible to share our experiences with each other,” says Ryan. “The sense of community we were able to construct—through group dinners, outings, and events—ranks as the single most rewarding component of First-Year Fellows.”  

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Allie Norris

Allie Norris ’19 comes from Grafton, Ohio, and graduated from Magnificat High School Phi Beta Kappa.

At Dartmouth, Allie is pursuing a major in Government with a minor in Public Policy. She is a student leader at the Aquinas House, a managing editor at the Dartmouth Law Journal, and a First-Year Peer Mentor.

As a First-Year Fellow, Allie interned at the National Disability Institute, under the mentorship of Director Michael Morris. She wrote policy briefs, attended meetings on Capitol Hill, and completed a white paper on state-level financial education policy for people with disabilities.

“I was given a lot of meaningful work at NDI and was actually tasked with more responsibility than I had expected,” says Allie. Her first assignment was to research Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to combat poverty and write a brief on his plans as well as what outside policy groups thought. Poverty and disability measures are slated to be introduced this fall, and Allie’s report will most likely be published as a primer on the topic.

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Erica Ng

Erica Ng ’19 comes from Seattle, WA and graduated from University Prep, where she was Student Body President and Captain of the Varsity Ultimate Frisbee team. She also participated in the National Honor and Spanish Honor Societies, and earned multiple state level awards as a Mock Trial witness.

As an undergraduate, Erica is pursuing a major in Anthropology modified with Public Policy and minor in Human Centered Design.

For her First-Year Fellowship, Erica was placed with Gabriela Garcia ’01 at the Center for Perinatal Advocacy, which strives to implement policy and coordinate programs that improve maternal and infant health outcomes in the Washington DC area.

“I am interested in the field of global health,” says Erica, “so my experience with maternal and infant health policies and direct patient interactions can be readily applied to my future academic and professional pursuits. I now know much more about the challenges facing maternal and infant health providers through my time working at the hospital and attending policy meetings with my mentor at March of Dimes and the DC Infant Mortality Review Committee.”

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Sarah Memon

Sarah Memon ’19 comes from Fort Worth, Texas and graduated from Fort Worth Country Day as a member of the Cum Laude Society.

As a First-Year Fellow, Sarah was mentored by Edward Rynne ’77 and interned with the Smithsonian Institution Office of Policy and Analysis whose mission is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Smithsonian Institution by providing timely and accurate information for decision-making.

For Sarah, the most rewarding part of her fellowship experience was completing a literature review for the first time and being given the task of authoring a report on her own.

“I feel a great sense of pride that a paper I solely wrote will be sent to a client,” says Sarah. She appreciated that the opportunity allowed her to experience the difference in writing a paper for a class and writing a paper for a client. “The knowledge I gained specifically from my findings will be very helpful to me in future endeavors.”

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Grant McArtor

Grant McArtor ’19 is from Boiling Springs, South Carolina and graduated high school at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In high school, Grant was a member the National Honor Society and the Cum Laude Society and lettered in varsity rowing. Additionally, Grant was a National Merit Finalist and an AP Scholar with Distinction.

As a student at Dartmouth, Grant intends to major in Economics and minor in Government.

For his First-Year Fellowship, Grant was placed with Jenny Chandler ’82 at the National Council of Nonprofits, which works with federal, state, and local governments to ensure that the needs of nonprofits are being adequately met in public policy. 

“I think my favorite part of the fellowship and the internship specifically was the knowledge that I had at the end of my internship contributed positively to the mission of my organization,” says Grant. “Whether it was through the articles I worked on or the plethora of ‘little things’ I did to help out, I was pleasantly surprised that I could make an impact, even though I had virtually no previous experience in this field of work.”

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Alex Magnuson

Alex Magnuson ’19 grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbus Academy.  At Dartmouth, Alex is pursuing a major in Economics with a minor in Geography. He is a member of the Dartmouth Figure Skating and Parliamentary Debate teams, teaches P.E. skating classes to undergraduates, and volunteered for the Dartmouth for Hillary Campaign.

For his First-Year Fellowship, Alex worked as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution. This took many forms, and varied between the qualitative and the quantitative.

He helped provide background research on global events like Brexit. wrote reports on committee hearings and summarized new academic papers, and travelled to different federal agencies to collect information in order to create datasets, and construct instruments for ensuring exogenous variation in economic models. 

Class of 2019 First-Year Fellow: Sander Kushen

Alexander (Sander) Kushen ’19 comes from Orange County, California and graduated from Tesoro High School as a member of the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation. Sander was honored as his high school’s male athlete of the year, along with a perpetual award named after him (the Kushen award), which is given to a Cross Country athlete for strong academic and athletic performance.

Although his major at Dartmouth is currently undecided, Sander is interested in the study of public policy.

As a First-Year Fellow, Sander interned in the Office of Representative Ann McLane Kuster ’78.  Besides the routine administrative tasks normally assigned to interns, Sander was able to help the office staffers by attending briefings, hearings, and other informational meetings and taking notes for them. He also wrote congratulatory letters to constituents, did research for the legislative assistants, and wrote press releases.

Class of 2019 First Year Fellow: Maxwell Kanefield

Maxwell Kanefield ’19 was born and raised in Washington, DC, which sparked his interest in the political world. Prior to Dartmouth, he worked with Operation Understanding DC, an organization that brings together African-American and Jewish students committed to eradicating racism and discrimination. He also founded a political discussion club at his high school. Maxwell received the U.S. Presidential Scholar award.

During his First-Year Fellow summer, Maxwell worked at the National Science Foundation in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. The Office’s main mission is to develop new scientists and strengthen the existing community, a mission that connected well with his passion and was thus very rewarding.

During his internship, Maxwell had a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, but his central project was a large-scale data collection and analysis conducted on Nobel Laureates funded by the NSF, compiled at the request of the Department of State.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences