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

Recognizing Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant Jennifer Davidson '15

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In this series, the Rockefeller Center features our Student Program Assistants, student staff who contribute significantly to the success of the Center’s events, programs, and activities.

As a Government and Women & Gender Studies double major and as a future law school student, Jennifer Davidson '15 has always enjoyed learning about politics and public policy. Her interests led her to the Rockefeller Center, where she took PBPL 5: Introduction to Public Policy, participated in the Management and Leadership Development Program (MDLP), and served as a mentor through the Rockefeller Peer Mentoring Program. During this time, she began to learn more and more about the public program lectures and student discussions PoliTALK had to offer. Finally, when Jennifer decided that she wanted to play a larger role at the Rockefeller Center, she applied to be a Student Program Assistant and was thrilled to begin working with the PoliTALK program the winter of her junior year.

Student Program Assistant for PoliTALK Jennifer Davidson '15. Photo by Thanh V. Nguyen.

At the Rockefeller Center, Jennifer interacts with high-profile speakers on a daily basis. She works with Joanne Needham, the Rockefeller Center’s Coordinator of Public and Special Events, to coordinate lectures and student discussion dinners. Before these events, she helps with a great deal of the logistics including ordering food, delivering advertisements, researching speakers, and more. On the day of the actual event, she facilitates conversations and acts as a medium between the students and speakers. Jennifer ensures that each interested student has equal opportunity to speak, guiding the conversation and ensuring that there are no hindrances to the discussion. Thanks to the work of Jennifer and other staff members, discussions between intrigued students and knowledgeable experts are both productive and inspirational.

"You get to hear amazing conversations," says Jennifer. "It is a really unique opportunity to see the speakers in a much more informal setting and hear what students are interested in. You can also get advice from people who are leaders in their field."

While working with PoliTALK, Jennifer has particularly enjoyed seeing the diverse cross-section of campus that attends these events. Although there are many regular attendees, each PoliTALK topic brings different groups of students from campus together. Each event also differs. Sometimes the conversation is more informal, sometimes people share ideas, and sometimes the discussion follows a more organized question-and-answer path. No matter what the event’s structure is, Jennifer ensures that conversations flow smoothly and effortlessly.

Jennifer has also enjoyed taking advantage of the Rockefeller Center’s unique opportunities to dine with someone whose works she has studied before. For instance, one of her favorite events was a dinner with Cass Sunstein, an American legal scholar whose works Jennifer had previously examined in her government courses.

"One of the reasons why Jennifer is such a valuable and accomplished PoliTALK student leader is her genuine interest in law-related topics and social issues, as well as her keen intellectual curiosity," says Joanne. "She is helpful before, during, and after the public talks, well-prepared for the student discussions, respectful of the guest speakers, and encouraging to her colleagues, resulting in meaningful conversations."

In the fall of 2015, Jennifer will attend the University of Virginia Law School. As of right now, she aspires to work with public interest, focusing most likely on women’s rights. As she continues her path toward higher education, Jennifer carries with her a refined set of interpersonal leadership, communication, and organizational skills as well as a strong sense of accountability, all of which she was happy to strengthen during her time spent at Dartmouth and the Rockefeller Center.

-Written by Nikita Bakhru '17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant 

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