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

Rocky and Me: Ester Cross '15 Senior Profile

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The Rockefeller Center encourages its outgoing seniors to reflect on their experiences at Dartmouth as part of a series called Rocky and Me.

When I matriculated at Dartmouth, I was immediately drawn to the Rockefeller Center because of the incredible academic and co-curricular opportunities it offered to students beginning in their first year. I knew I was interested in American politics and in pursuing a major in Government, but the Rockefeller Center really focused and expanded that interest into a passion.

Ester Cross '15

I first became involved with the Center in first year when I took PBPL 5: Introduction to Public Policy, and had the opportunity to subsequently participate in the Civic Skills Training and First-Year Fellows Program during the summer. The Civic Skills Training program taught me skills to navigate workplace dynamics, demonstrate professionalism, and improve my public speaking abilities. The First-Year Fellows opportunity allowed me to intern with the Congressional Research Service, where I helped produce a report on FutureGen under the supervision of Peter Folger to inform and make recommendations to the nation’s lawmakers about the future of clean coal technologies. That summer, I also received funding from the Rockefeller Center to cover the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with Talk Radio News. I reported on Occupy protests, union meetings, and convention speakers in a fast-paced news environment.

As a sophomore, I enrolled in PBPL 45: Introduction to Public Policy Research, which taught me to conduct qualitative and quantitative public policy research. Following on my work in this course, I joined the Center’s Class of 1964 Policy Research Shop to complete a project on developing criteria to analyze and propose repeals of trade and commerce statutes in the New Hampshire state code. This hands-on policy work gave me valuable experience in research methodologies as well as collaborating with fellow students to produce a viable report for the state legislature. I then had the amazing opportunity to study politics at Oxford through the Dartmouth-Oxford Exchange, organized by the Rockefeller Center. Living in Keble College and attending weakly seminars and tutorials, I benefited from different instruction formats that allowed me to approach topics through multiple perspectives.

In my junior year, I secured an unpaid position with the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. I applied to the Rockefeller Internships Program to allow me to take advantage of this internship opportunity. Through a combination of working directly with discrimination complainants and conducting legal and legislative research in support of new and ongoing cases, I learned more about the legal underpinnings of American democracy.

In my senior year, I participated in two highly valuable programs at the Center that have further expanded my perspective. In the fall, I took PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership with Professor Wheelan, which allowed me to study the history of the Northern Ireland sectarian conflict, the peace process, and ongoing efforts to achieve inter-community reconciliation. I then traveled to London, Dublin, and Belfast to conduct further research and interviews with leading actors in the conflict. These included former paramilitary fighters, former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern who had a seat at the negotiating table, and local civil leaders working toward a shared society. This research culminated in a memorandum with insights and actionable steps for future policymakers. I am also participating a second time as a Rockefeller Center Peer Mentor to first-year students. I really appreciate the opportunity to build a close relationship with a fellow student and advise her about coursework and internship opportunities.

The Rockefeller Center has been an integral and indispensable part of my education, personal growth, and enjoyment at Dartmouth. I am eternally grateful for all the amazing opportunities I have been given to pursue my interests in public policy and journalism. There are few organizations and communities that leave an indelible mark, and the Rockefeller Center has definitely done that to me!

This piece was written by Ester Cross '15. Ester is a Government major and French minor. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Dartmouth student-run magazine "The Dartmouth Chronicle." Ester is a recipient of the Reiss Family Scholarship and served as a James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar in the Department of Government. This fall, she will be studying for an M.Phil. in Comparative Government at Oxford University.

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