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

Senior Profile: Brandon DeBot ‘14

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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.

Brandon DeBot '14 (Photo by Thanh Nguyen)

I first decided to come to Dartmouth because I loved the sense of community I felt and thought it would be a place where I could balance academics, athletics, and co-curricular activities to get the most out of my college experience. The summer before I matriculated, I remember receiving a mailing that immediately piqued my interest. It was a brochure from the Rockefeller Center describing the Rocky’s various offerings in public policy and leadership. I was immediately interested in many of the opportunities, and made a note to explore them when I got to campus.

My first experience with Rocky was through Public Policy 5, and the subsequent Civic Skills Training and First-Year Fellows Program my freshman summer. The program demonstrated the amazing investments Rocky is willing to make in its students, and the unique opportunities they can create. That summer gave me my first dose of “real-world” policy experience and solidified my interest in government and public policy. I enjoyed living with the other Fellows in Washington, DC while working at The Charles Group, and I became determined to pursue the Public Policy Minor and more programs at Rocky.

I returned to campus my sophomore year excited to become more involved in Rocky. I started by participating in the Management and Leadership and Development Program (MLDP), which taught me crucial skills including managing workplace dynamics, presentation techniques, and professionalism. I also enrolled in Introduction to Public Policy Research, which built my skills in research methodologies and policy formulation. Both of these experiences were important not only for the skills they taught me, but because of the opportunities they led to in Rocky. My sophomore winter I began working in the Policy Research Shop (PRS) and as a Student Program Assistant at Rocky. Both of these experiences were essential to my professional development as I gained valuable work and research experience throughout my sophomore and junior years. As a Student Program Assistant, I assisted Thanh Nguyen in two capacities: first with MLDP, and later with Rocky’s internship funding program. In each case, I enjoyed learning from Thanh and having the opportunity to influence the development of Rocky programs that I had participated in and benefited from.

My experience in the PRS was similarly formative. As a researcher, I collaborated on numerous policy briefs and presentations, including briefs for the New Hampshire House Budget Committee on cost-of-living adjustments in New Hampshire’s retirement system, the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health on refugee integration, and New Hampshire and Vermont localities on regionalization opportunities. In each case, I appreciated the opportunity to work with other students to develop substantive papers for policymakers, and I saw first-hand how our work could influence the policy process. My testimony before the New Hampshire House Budget Committee was especially important to my development, as it revealed my interest in fiscal policy I later decided to pursue at the federal level.

After I secured an unpaid internship with the White House National Economic Council (NEC) for my junior fall, I turned to Rocky’s internship funding program for the means to allow me to take this amazing opportunity. As a Class of 1964 funded intern, I worked on a wide array of domestic and international economic policy issues at the NEC, which gave me incredible insights into how policy is formulated and implemented, as well as the interplay between politics and policy. My experiences at the NEC and the PRS were the cornerstones of my application for the Truman Scholarship, which I won my junior year.

My senior year has been highlighted by my participation in two capstone programs at Rocky. In the fall, I took PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership with Professor Wheelan. In the course, we studied economic policy in India over the fall term, and then traveled to India over the December break to study the issue first-hand on a trip funded by Rocky. As it was my first time traveling overseas, simply being able to travel to India itself was incredible, but the structure of our visit and the opportunities we had to meet with policymakers, business leaders, academics, and other stakeholders made the experience unforgettable. I also appreciated the opportunity to produce a wide-ranging paper with actionable policy recommendations with the other students on the trip in an intense, collaborative environment. I am also a Rockefeller Leadership Fellow this year, which has allowed me to connect with leaders from across campus and build my skills at delegation, public speaking, team building, and leading in different contexts, each of which will be crucial to my future endeavors.

After reflecting on the last four years, it is clear that the Rockefeller Center has been a true home for me at Dartmouth, and that it has been instrumental to my personal and professional development. In addition to the amazing experiences Rocky has given me, I’ve grown and developed as a leader and learned a lot about teamwork, collaboration, and the particular skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. Beyond graduating with the Public Policy Minor, each of the programs I participated in was important to helping me grow and where I am today. I will always reflect fondly on my time spent in Rocky and the relationships I built with other staff members and students. It is truly a tightknit community within Rocky! As I go on to pursue a career in public policy, anything I accomplish after leaving Dartmouth will inevitably be tied to my participation in Rocky’s programs.

--Brandon DeBot '14

Brandon DeBot is a Government major and Public Policy Minor. In addition to his involvement at the Rockefeller Center, he is a 2013 Truman Scholar, Rufus Choate Scholar, and recipient of the Andrew Warden Edson Memorial Prize. DeBot competes on the Dartmouth Men’s Varsity Tennis Team in singles and doubles, and has been named Second Team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy. He has also served as a James O. Freedman Presidential Research Scholar in the Government Department. This past summer he worked as a Federal Fiscal Policy Intern at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank in Washington, DC, where he will return as a Research Associate following graduation.

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