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

Rocky and Me: Chris McCorkle '20 Senior Reflection

Chris McCorkle, Class of 2020 

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In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.

When I came to Dartmouth, I had an open mind about what I might want to study in my time at the College. Aside from playing on the club hockey team, I really had no clue how I wanted to invest my time. I chose Dartmouth because of the strong sense of community and the ability to interact closely with my peers and professors. For me, this beneficial aspect of the Dartmouth experience was realized from the first class I took with the Rockefeller Center. As a sophomore, one of my close friends, also a Public Policy minor, suggested I take PBPL 45 – Introduction to Policy Research, the prerequisite course for the Policy Research Shop. However, I had not taken the required PBPL 5 course yet, as I did not think I would be a Public Policy minor at that point. However, Professor Shaiko was flexible and understanding enough to allow me to take PBPL 45 before taking PBPL 5, which set me on the path towards an incredibly fulfilling experience with Rocky. 

What stood out to me most was the fact that Rocky offered much more than simply courses in Public Policy. In my sophomore year, I participated in the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP). I had been nominated by a classmate of mine who participated in a previous term and really enjoyed it. While in the program, I really felt myself being pushed out of my comfort zone—having meaningful, thoughtful conversations with new acquaintances and developing my public speaking skills. The program provided me almost immediate value, as the professional skills I developed were greatly beneficial for me in my summer internship. Upon reflection, I realized just how well-developed and thought out the co-curricular programs are, and how they are designed to complement the course load offered by Rocky. 

As my time at Dartmouth progressed, my focus transitioned from primarily developing skills and an understanding of the Center to developing relationships with professors and peers. PBPL 43 (Social Entrepreneurship), taught by Professor Samwick, PBPL 85 (Global Policy Leadership), with Professor Nachlis, numerous courses with Professor Shaiko, and Policy Research advising from post-doctorate Lauren Russell all afforded me opportunities to interact closely and regularly with professors regarding my academic work as well as professional and co-curricular life, something I found to be unique to the Public Policy Department. 

When I start my professional journey this summer, I am confident that the skills, knowledge, and relationships I gained during my time at Rocky will be remarkably valuable to me. Some of the advice I am most adamant about to my brother, Gannon, who is an incoming member of the Class of 2024 is to try out courses at Rocky and take full advantage of the co-curricular programs offered, in hopes he finds as much value from the Center as I did. 

-Written by Chris McCorkle, Class of 2020

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