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

Public Policy Minor

Rocky and Me: Estephanie Aquino ’18 Senior Reflection

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

When I was deciding between colleges during the spring of my senior year of high school I remember checking out Dartmouth’s website and instantly being drawn to the Rockefeller Center after reading about students only two years older than me being actively involved in the policy-making process, conducting research, and meeting legislators. As a student who was exposed to the intricacies of environmental policy and regulation through my high school’s Energy and Utilities Academy, I knew that I needed to enroll at an institution that could cater to my curiosity and would allow me to be directly involved in the policy-making process.

Rocky and Me: Abhilasha Gokulan ’18 Senior Reflection

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

Rocky and Me: Jimmy Fair ’18 Senior Reflection

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

I grew up visiting Dartmouth every summer because my grandparents retired to Hanover 25 years ago. Dartmouth became my first choice by the beginning of high school, and I was surprised by how receptive professors were to my requests to sit in on classes and chat with them during a visit my junior year of high school. Coming from Colorado, I also wanted to go to college where I had immediate access to the outdoors. 

Rocky and Me: Julia Decerega ’18 Senior Reflection

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

When I walked into Rocky for the first time during one of the many orientation week open houses I attended, I did not imagine at the time the impact the physical building, and the people in it, would ultimately have on my college experience. I had heard about Rocky when I visited Dartmouth during Dimensions, I even took a pretty brochure home at the time. It was comforting to know that Dartmouth had a center dedicated to the study of public policy and to helping students apply their knowledge in the real world, which is what I was looking for in college. This made my decision to choose Dartmouth feel like the right one at the time. 

PBPL 85 Drafts Policy Memo During their Final Few Days in Liberia

After looking forward to our Liberia trip for nearly six months, I can’t believe that it is almost over! Oh, how I will miss my fresh* papaya and pancakes in the morning! Oh, how I will miss our giant van and our lovely drivers, Bedna, James, and Jimmy! Oh, how I will miss the cultural landmark that is Monroe Chicken… actually, I probably won’t miss Monroe Chicken that much. 

In our last few days in Liberia, we are all working hard to complete our memo, especially since we all seemed to procrastinate writing our citations until the very end. Last night (technically early this morning), our diligent editors woke up at 4am to edit our first complete draft, while the rest of the team tried to get some sleep. This afternoon, we took a quick memo break to explore a street fair hosted by the U.S. Embassy, and to grab some lunch at a local Lebanese restaurant. On our excursion, we discovered that Professor Wheelan is not very good at bargaining with street vendors. Since there is little tourism in Monrovia, we were relieved to finally secure a few souvenirs before our trip home tomorrow.

PBPL 85 Visits Chimpanzee Island

Today, the students of Public Policy 85 were able to have a serious once-in-a-lifetime experience in Liberia. They were able to venture about an hour out of Monrovia along the coastal road to a beach side village. There, they were greeted by a parade, complete with snare drums, saxophones and many local school children marching and dancing. However, that wasn’t the first unanticipated event of the trip. 

PBPL 85 Meets with World Bank Officials

Another exciting day here in Liberia! We survived our last day of meetings with two very exciting visits. In the morning, we met with the World Bank’s Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, and her team. This was one of the most productive and insightful meetings we’ve had in the country. We were able to discuss Liberia’s economic priorities with a group of really knowledgeable professionals, and gained great insight about what steps to recommend to the new government. Before we left we took a picture in front of the World Bank Christmas tree. We tried really hard, but sadly could not get Anthony to smile. Maybe tomorrow when we visit Chimpanzee island!

PBPL 85 Visits the Liberian Revenue Authority

The day began at 8:30am to the cacophonous sounds of Tubman Boulevard, one of Monrovia’s main streets. My shower which does either ice cold or scorching hot decided it would be an ice cold day and my shirt, which does either white or stained, decided it would be a stained day. My big decision of the day was switching my allegiance from Monroe Chicken to The Hub. Hopefully my GI tract agrees with this. It’s been well behaved thus far.

The day began with a meeting at the Liberian Revenue Authority. This was far and away the nicest building that we have visited. The inside of the building looked like it could have been a bank in the United States. The boardroom was well equipped with presentation materials and we were served an assortment of nuts. The meeting shed some light on the different forms of revenue collection across the country. It was interesting to hear about the organization’s efforts to expand revenue collection efforts by appealing to the national sentiment and creating a shift in the culture.

PBPL 85 Meets with Liberia’s National Health Institute Officials

After a relaxing weekend at the beach in Robertsport, we headed into our meetings Monday feeling energized. We first met with the director and staff of Liberia’s National Health Institute. These health experts fought the 2014 Ebola crisis from its earliest stages, and we discussed the difficulty the country has retaining medical professionals, the contributions of international aid, and the institute’s plan for the next major crisis. Director of USAID in Liberia Tony Chan later treated us to an economist’s perspective on Liberia’s development path during an evening in his own living room. We ended the day at an Ethiopian restaurant in town enjoying lively discussion and heavenly injera bread.

We began a full day of meetings on Tuesday with multiple officials at the Carter Center, where we learned about their work promoting access to justice and legal counseling throughout the country. Shortly after, Peter Wilson of the US African Development Foundation answered a litany of questions on agriculture and land reform necessary for our group to recommend policies in our memo that will promote key exports such as rice for generations to come. 

PBPL 85 Travels to Robertsport, Liberia

During the weekend of December 2nd we travelled to Robertsport, a Liberian town located right along the beach a few hours out from the capital. On Saturday morning, we scrambled to store our luggage and squeeze into our four-wheel drive, terrain-adaptive vehicles. Deciding on which vehicle to enter proved to be a fateful choice for four students in particular, myself included. Thirty minutes into our sweaty excursion, our good friend Steve, the driver, pulled over. The imaginable had happened: the AC in the car was broken. After about half an hour of work on the car, Steve claimed the AC had been fixed. This was hardly true, but we scurried along our path anyways.


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