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Two W&L Students Awarded Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Jessica Pachuca ’25 and Gabe Miller ’25 will attend the PPIA Junior Summer Institute at Carnegie Mellon University this summer.

Jessica Pachuca ’25 and Gabe Miller ’25 will attend the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute at Carnegie Mellon University during the summer of 2024. Pachuca is an economics major with a double minor in education policy and poverty and human capability studies and is from Houston, Texas. Miller, a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, is an economics and philosophy double major with a minor in poverty and human capability studies.

The PPIA fellowship program helps students achieve a master’s or joint degree, typically in public policy, public administration, international affairs or a related field.

“Being awarded this opportunity means opening an avenue for pursuing a graduate education in public policy, and with a consortium of schools connected through the program, there is greater financial feasibility,” Pachuca said. “Additionally, learning skills specific to my interests could aid in post-graduate plans regardless of my path.”

At Carnegie Mellon, Pachuca will take college-level courses centered around public policy as examined through an economics lens, such as “Dismantling Systems of Oppression” and “Applied Statistics for Public Policy.” She hopes the program will strengthen her knowledge of data analysis and the application of economics to social issues and public policy, and provide the necessary background for a career in using economics in advancing policy for a more equitable primary and secondary education system.

On campus, Pachuca is involved in the Bonner Program and Comunidad Latina Estudiantil (W&L’s Latinx student organization), and volunteers with the Rockbridge Area Relief Center and at Waddell Elementary School. She credits Howard Pickett, associate professor of ethics and poverty studies and director of the Shepherd Program at W&L, for helping her in her academic and personal journey since before she came to campus and appreciates his ability to create an inclusive and welcoming environment while delving into some of the most critical social issues.

For Miller, participating in the PPIA Junior Summer Institute will bring him one step closer to pursuing a career in law and public policy. He will be on the fellowship’s flagship track at Carnegie Mellon and take classes focused on public policy analysis and leadership capability, which will help him develop the practical and soft skills necessary for his career path and build upon the passion for service he has cultivated during his time at W&L.

“The opportunity to connect my community service work on W&L’s campus to greater policy and law issues nationwide is a great privilege,” Miller said. “I’m looking forward to meeting my cohort and professors, getting started with my classes, and continuing my work toward a career in public policy and law.”

On campus, Miller is the engagement chair on the Hillel Executive Student Board and is involved in the Bonner Program. He is also the co-founder and service chair of the Blue Ridge Mile Clinic, a student-led initiative that aims to support clients in navigating the steps required to obtain or reinstate a driver’s license. He has been inspired by the patience and dedication of Fran Elrod, associate director of the Shepherd Program at W&L and university adviser to the Blue Ridge Mile Clinic, and is also grateful to Chantal Smith, assistant professor of economics, for encouraging him to pursue an economics major and helping him connect his passion for law and justice with greater public policy issues.

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