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

First Year Fellows

Welcome Class of 2021

Students who come to the Rockefeller Center find a home, mentors, and engaged peers.

The Rockefeller Center has a specially designed First-Year Fellows program for the Class of 2021 that begins by taking Public Policy 5 in the winter term of 2018. Public Policy 5 is the introductory course in the Public Policy minor, which allows students to customize their own interdisciplinary plan of study around an important public policy area that they define, such as health, education, the environment, leadership, law, poverty, or urban issues.

There are additional programs open to first-year students, such as Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors, Student Discussion Groups, and Peer Mentoring.

First-Year Fellow Mentor: Jennifer Chandler Hauge '82

The First-Year Fellows program is a unique opportunity for first-year students to engage meaningfully in public policy early in their Dartmouth careers. Each year, around 20 students are selected and placed in fellowships with Dartmouth alumni in Washington, D.C., who are willing to take on a significant mentoring role.

The Annual Student and Alumni Reception in Washington, D.C.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center hosted its annual Student and Alumni Reception in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Each year the occasion provides an opportunity for the Center’s First-Year Fellows, newly arrived to the city and ready to embark on their 8-week summer internships, to meet and network with their Dartmouth Alumni mentors.

“The First-Year Fellows program is a great example of the partnership between the Rockefeller Center and Dartmouth alumni, who find many ways to contribute to the education of each successive cohort of Dartmouth students,” noted the Center’s Director, Professor Andrew Samwick, during his brief remarks at the reception.

This summer, 23 First-Year Fellows, all members of the Dartmouth Class of 2020, are serving fellowships in a diverse range of host organizations with a Dartmouth alumni mentor.

The Class of 2020 First-Year Fellows in D.C.

The Class of 2020 First-Year Fellows arrived in Washington, D.C. this week and are currently participating in the Civic Skills Training (CST) component of the program. The Fellows have already completed four on-campus training sessions during the spring term and will now spend an additional five days of training in Washington, D.C. before their fellowships begin on Monday.

The CST curriculum covers everything from public speaking, networking, and advocacy writing to project management, team work, and professionalism and is designed to prepare the students for a successful internship experience and beyond. The week includes classroom sessions facilitated by Deputy Director Sadhana Hall and Program Officer Sam Williamson, workshops hosted by area alumni, and excursions around the city to familiarize the students with Capitol Hill and the surrounding area.

Introducing the Class of 2020 First-Year Fellows

Since 2007, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center has offered first-year students and Dartmouth alumni a dynamic program called First-Year Fellows (FYF). This program provides first-year students the opportunity to engage in public policy early in their Dartmouth careers.

For students the program starts on campus during the fall and winter terms as potential participants are required to take PBPL 5: Introductory to Public Policy and a research methods course. They are also expected to participate in the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors program. 

During the spring term, Fellows are selected through a competitive application and interview process and then matched with an alumni mentor and placement organization best suited to their academic and career interests.

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, benched 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 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 a 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.”

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