Rocky and Me: Ray Lu ’18 Senior Reflection

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

I made the long journey from Austin, Texas — where I was born and raised — to Dartmouth knowing I wanted a new, challenging environment. My interest in economics derived from my father’s background as an economist, and the time I spent with the U.S. Department of Education Presidential Scholars Program the summer before college inspired me to explore the policy realm.

Freshman winter, I took the class Public Policy 5: Introduction to Public Policy, my first experience with the Rockefeller Center. Afterwards, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a First-Year Fellow and was placed in a fellowship with the National Council of Nonprofits for the following summer. That summer was formative — my first real internship, my first time living in a city not named Austin or Hanover. In Washington, D.C., I had an incredible time with the other Fellows, many of whom are still some of my closest friends. The internship at the National Council of Nonprofits gave me an important overview of the nonprofit world and inspired me to always look at challenges through a different lens.

Since then, I’ve participated in a wide variety of programs here at Dartmouth. I worked with two separate teams to publish policy briefs with the Policy Research Shop, presenting some of our findings in formal testimonies. I went to Montreal for the first time with the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program and participated in several other Rockefeller Center programs facilitated by inspiring staff members. I served as an Undergraduate Advisor with the Office of Residential Life. I even traveled to Liberia for two weeks with the Public Policy 85: Global Policy Leadership class — a memorable experience, especially considering I didn’t participate in a study abroad program while at Dartmouth.

Much of my last two years of college were consumed by my tenure as editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth, an entirely student-run, independent, daily newspaper. The over-a-year-long period put my leadership skills, influenced by various Rockefeller Center programs over the years, to the absolute test. That experience in and of itself cannot be captured in the space allotted, but it was the most taxing and rewarding time of my life thus far.

But this description of my Dartmouth — and Rocky — experience would be amiss if it didn’t mention the incredible faculty mentors I’ve been lucky to have over the last four years. Time and again, the professors involved in the Rockefeller Center have proved to be some of the best both inside and outside the classroom. Professors Herschel Nachlis, Andrew Samwick, Ronald Shaiko, and Charles Wheelan have overseen nearly every single one of my extracurricular activities and, collectively, taught over a fifth of my Dartmouth classes — with the inclusion of government professor Brendan Nyhan, that figure becomes over a fourth. I’m grateful for the invaluable guidance they and countless others have provided along the way, and I’m happy to have spent these four challenging and worthwhile years here in Hanover.

Ray Lu, Dartmouth Class of 2018, was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He graduates this spring with an economics major and minors in both public policy and quantitative social sciences.