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

What Do Six Alumni in Congress Have to Say About their Dartmouth Experience and Public Service?

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Today, students from the Public Policy 20 course "Contemporary Issues in American Politics and Public Policy" welcomed Senator Rob Portman ’78 (R-Ohio) for a guest lecture.  Portman is one of six alumni who are current members of the United States Congress.  These alums were recently interviewed by ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper '91 in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine

A fascinating glimpse into the lives of these Dartmouth public servants, we encourage you to review the entire article online or in the print magazine.  Below you can read a few of our favorite quotes that you will find only in the online edition.

We look forward to continuing to bring you exclusive looks into the lives of Dartmouth alumni who are active in politics, civic life, and public policy.  If you have suggestions for us to consider, please let us know in the comment section.

Rep. Michael Capuano ’73 (D-MA)

“Dartmouth made me realize the possibilities of life, made me realize that there are ways to make the world a better place to live in and helped me learn how to do it…It helped open my eyes. It gave me the impression that, committed, you can change the world.”

“I don’t know that if I had gone to a college in Boston at the time that I would’ve been able to see beyond what was effectively a conservative upbringing, that “it’s just all about me—go to a college, make money, be successful, move forward, if you can’t make it on your own, too bad.” Dartmouth opened my eyes, so I think Dartmouth therefore, in that case, was probably a miserable failure…Because I graduated more progressive than I ever thought that I would be.”

Sen. John Hoeven ’79 (R-ND)

“The diversity was tremendous to me, people from different places with different ideas and different talents and strengths. The other thing was the tremendous caliber of instruction. We had outstanding professors and small class sizes, so you really had a chance to learn adult problem-solving skills. I think Dartmouth did a remarkable job of preparing young people to go into challenging situations and decide what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. And I think each person here tonight has talked about that a little bit in different ways. That may be Dartmouth’s greatest gift.”

Rep. Charlie Bass ’74 (R-NH)

“I pulled out a couple of yearbooks maybe two or three years ago and I looked at what I was when I came there and what I was when I left, and there was no comparison at all. I learned how to write, I learned how to communicate, and I learned a lot about dealing with other people, which has been with me ever since.” 

Rep. John Carney ’78 (D-DE)

“But Dartmouth opened up a whole world. I was 12 years Catholic school, you know, old Irish-Catholic upbringing. Dartmouth opened up worlds that I had never known about or experienced. I made great friends there and actually could go back to Delaware and get elected to Congress. Not to governor, but to Congress.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ’88 (D-NY)

“But what I loved about Dartmouth is it encouraged students to explore the world. Even in our song it says, “’round the girdled earth they roam,” and it’s all about us getting into the world and having an impact on the world, and I think that’s unique about Dartmouth. When I was looking at schools, that’s the reason I chose Dartmouth, because it encouraged more study abroad. I traveled a lot as a high school student to many countries, which is highly unusual. I wanted to continue that experience, because I learned so much about other cultures, other people, other priorities by traveling. It made me not only want to be part of this world, but also to be engaged in the issues of the day. And I think that fundamentally helped me move toward public service over the years.”

Sen. Rob Portman ’78 (R-OH)

“I got to know my professors. A lot of college kids just don’t get that opportunity because of big classes and their teachers doing a lot of research. I was an anthropology major and I knew all the professors.”

“It broadened my perspectives, but it also gave me just a lot of different experiences. I did go into private practice, the law, for about 10 years. But I always knew from the Dartmouth experience that public service was going to be in my future somewhere.”

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