Rocky and Me - Nate Pucci '22

The Rockefeller Center and its champions — Deputy Director Sadhana Hall and Professor Ron Shaiko chief among them — were my first introductions to curricular and co-curricular life at Dartmouth. I distinctly remember meeting Sadhana and Professor Shaiko in Morrison Commons as an undecided admit in the spring of 2018. Their enthusiasm, passion for leadership and policy, and genuine care for their students and staff were immediately evident. I knew early on in that session that the culture of Rocky — one of collaboration, professional development, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning — would allow me to grow tremendously as a student and person. Choosing to accept my place in the Dartmouth class of 2022 shortly after that morning session was one of the easiest and best decisions I have made.

Once on campus, Rocky became my home away from home. On the co-curricular side, I dove into three of Rocky's leadership programs. Specifically, I participated in the Management Leadership Development Program (MLDP), the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP), and Rockefeller Leadership Fellows (RLF). In each of these programs, I had the privilege of joining a diverse group of peers for weekly discussions about topics related to leadership and personal and professional development. In addition to learning from my peers and the Rocky leadership team, I was privileged to meet and listen to over 25 guest lecturers during my time as a participant in Rocky's leadership programs. Some of my favorite sessions were led by Kate Hilton (on the art of relationship-building), Curt Welling (on CEO activism), and the late Gama Perruci (on developing a global consciousness).

I have also had the honor of serving as a student program assistant for MLDP, RGLP, and RLF, through which I have worked closely with some of our rock-star program officers (Robin & Leslie) and incredible co-student program assistants (Ezi, John, Rachel, Abby, and Ally). I was also fortunate to work closely with Sadhana as a research assistant for her publication about the Center, Leadership Blueprints (2021). Through these various roles at the Rockefeller Center, I have learned best practices for marketing and recruitment of Dartmouth students, and I have adopted a growth mindset by constantly thinking of ways to improve our continuum of programs. I also gained an appreciation for the difficulties of balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars, employment, and social life at Dartmouth.

On the curricular side, I learned about the fundamentals of public policy with Professor Shaiko (PBPL 5), and I explored my interest in education policy with Professors Herman (PBPL 27) and Wheelan (EDUC 20). These courses (and lots of support from Professor Herman) laid the groundwork for my senior thesis in Economics which considers the impact of time spent outside of the classroom during the pandemic on achievement among English Language Learners in U.S. public schools.

This past fall, I enrolled in an experiential learning course through the Center (PBPL 85 with Professor Nachlis) which culminated in a two-week trip to our nation's capital. Over the fall term, my classmates and I studied the United States' approach to public health, and we developed a number of reforms aimed at making the provision of healthcare more efficient and equitable. During our trip to D.C. following the termination of the course, my classmates and I were able to stress-test and revise these reforms through intimate conversations with leaders in government, nonprofits, and private businesses. This unique experience was made possible by the Rockefeller Center's hardworking staff, loyal alumni, and generous donors.

My time at Rocky has been incredible. I have benefitted from the investments of numerous peers, staff members, guest lecturers, professors, and alumni, and I am a more confident and capable person for having participated in a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities at the Center. I look forward to following the career paths of my Rocky peers who, in large part thanks to the Rockefeller Center, are well equipped with the skills necessary to lead organizations and give back in substantial ways to their communities.