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

Rockefeller Center Student Profile: Amrita Sankar '12

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We meet and get to know a number of Dartmouth students over the course of the academic year. Students involved with the Rockefeller Center don't fit a particular mold - they have a broad variety of interests and passions. The following is a snapshot of one of those students.
Learn more about Amrita Sankar, Class of 2012

Sankar, with Alexi Pappas and Madeline Sims, at Civic Skills Training in June 2009

"When I first came to Dartmouth, I was unclear what to expect. I had applied to Dartmouth after hearing peripherally of its prestige and reputation as a top-notch undergraduate institution and through the anecdotes of respected acquaintances who had relished their time here. I only cemented my decision to attend this college however after my open-house session at the Rockefeller center during accepted students weekend. I was greeted by Professor Shaiko and informed of the grass-roots public policy experience a student could undergo during their time here. Coming from an extensive background in service as a Girl Scout, I was inspired by the myriad ways a student could bring about positive change through understanding the public sector, constructing public policy to implement legislative change, and honing leadership skills to go forth in the world.

From the time I heard about the “Rocky Track” I was hooked. I took Public Policy 5 my freshmen winter and had the distinct privilege of being accepted as a “First Year Fellow” the summer going into my sophomore year. This program for twenty lucky students was formative in my Dartmouth experience. I had a crash course in necessary civic skills and interned at “The Center for Comprehensive Reform” under the guidance of Abner Oakes ’81 in the heart of this nations capital. I learned professionalism on site and explored the numerous sectors that interact to form the world we live in. But I also forged life-long friends: we saw the Fourth of July fireworks at the Lincoln monument. We cooked homemade meals together. And during my Dartmouth tenure, these public policy comrades would be in future classes and life endeavors with me.

My real world experience delving into the public sector did not end there. Thanks to the Rockefeller Center, I was granted the distinct privilege of being an ‘FSW intern’ at a small non-profit agency in Bridgeport, CT. My takeaway from my internship at FSW was an observation of the best in civil society. From the Board of Directors who volunteered their invaluable time and expertise to steward the organization, to the case managers who dedicate their lives to the Bridgeport community, I was honored to work with some of the most impressive individuals I have ever encountered. What most struck me during my internship was how all of FSW’s staff referred to the individuals they served as their “clients”. The organization considered themselves a privatization of social service, and like any corporation, their objective was to best serve their client. These people defined the discrepancy between “charity” and “service” for me: a sympathetic offering for someone less fortunate versus empathetic collaboration to enhance a fellow man’s quality of life. FSW focuses, and excels, at the latter.

Since First Year Fellows, I was sold as a Public Policy Minor. I have taken a number of classes at the Rockefeller institute, ranging from “Leadership in Civil Society” to “The Economics of Public Policy”. Each of these classes has required not only a fundamental understanding of the theory of public policy but a nuanced appreciation of its application. Introduction to Policy Research guided me through the process of how an issue is researched and documented to then be manifested as legislation. My senior seminar Healthcare Reform required a quantitative application of exploring how differences in hospital management affect rates of death.

The capstone to my Rocky experience has been in my senior year. Having taken the Management Leadership and Development offered to all students hoping to enrich their professionalism skills, I was honored to be selected as a Rockefeller Leadership Fellow. Already in my short time in the Fellowship, my understanding of leadership, based on concentrated sessions assessing a facet of this subject, has been enhanced three-hold. Not only does each guest speaker present on the issues with expertise and extensive preparation, but the common-ground respect the other fellows have for one another and communal engagement we have dedicated to this program have enhanced the conversation and value of this program three-fold. Now as Vice President of the Dartmouth Student Assembly, I feel more confident and capable in delegating tasks, reflective of my decisions, and conscious of my interactions and engagements with others.

I am still unsure what direction my life will take. But regardless of the field or industry, Dartmouth has done more than direct my life pursuits: through the experiences I have been able to undergo through the Rockefeller Center, inside and outside the classroom, my character has been fundamentally molded. I have grown to be both the individual and leader I know that I can be, and through the skill-set I have acquired through the numerous Rocky programs I have participated in, I feel equipped with an arsenal to take on the world." Amrita Sankar hails from Ridgefield, CT. Upon graduating from Ridgefield High School she was also selected as a National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2008. Sankar is a Government Major, Public Policy Minor with a concentration on Political Theory and Healthcare respectively. On campus, Sankar is extremely involved with the Dartmouth College Democrats at both the campus and state level, Co-chair of Diversity and Community Affairs within Student Assembly for the past two years, and President of her female a cappella group the Dartmouth Subtleties. She has had two Rockefeller internships, working at the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement in Washington, D.C. her freshmen year and FSW, Inc. in Bridgeport, CT her sophomore winter. Sankar hopes to specialize in leadership in the non-profit sector after graduation from Dartmouth, failing which she will find a varying capacity to be a proponent for positive change in the world.

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