Record Number of Batten Students Selected as Finalists for Presidential Management Fellowships

The highly competitive program is designed to develop a strong cadre of future government leaders.

Washington DC
Ten Batten students and alumni — the highest number to date — have been selected as finalists for this year's prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program, which is designed to develop a strong cadre of future government leaders. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ten Batten students and alumni — the highest number to date — have been selected as finalists for this year's prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program. With an average acceptance rate of only 8%, the program is highly competitive and a coveted opportunity for graduate students who aim to work in policy and government.

Finalists for the PMF program seek two-year positions with federal agencies. Most available positions are in the executive branch, but the legislative and judicial branches offer opportunities as well. Many students are drawn to the PMF’s rotational opportunities, which allow fellows to explore other divisions, bureaus, offices, or programs within their agencies — or even within a different agency altogether.

This year’s finalists include students Lucy Hopkins (MPP ’22), Jie Ying Huang (MPP ’22), Ethan Novak (MPP ’22), alum Annie Lupsha (MPP ’21) and the six current and former students below. 

Jackie Chen (BA ’21)

Policy interest: Public health

I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in public service, where I can create an impact in my community,” said Chen. On track to receive her master’s degree in public health from UVA’s School of Medicine in May, Chen worked as a teaching assistant at the School of Nursing as an undergraduate and spent two summers conducting research on infectious diseases while interning with the U.S. Navy. 

Chen first learned about the Presidential Management Fellowship through Batten alum Meghan Clancy (MPP ’21), a current PMF fellow. “With her encouragement, I applied to the fellowship, and I am excited to have this avenue to serve our country,” Chen said.

Deebii Duguma (MPP ’22) 

Policy interests: Foreign policy and international development

An accelerated master of public policy student at Batten, Duguma has focused on international affairs during her time at the school, but she is excited to explore other policy areas as a PMF Fellow. Like many students, she looks forward to the program’s rotational opportunities, which allow students to work within a range of government offices.

“I hope to gain exposure to different federal agencies beyond my own areas of policy expertise,” she said. “It will be great to broaden my understanding of how different areas of government operate, as well as to explore the many faces of a career in public service.” 

Ben Pereboom (MPP ’22) 

Policy interests: Education, environment, and labor rights 

“Coming from a humanities background, Batten definitely gave me the skills I need to analyze policies, evaluate their effectiveness and ultimately understand the forces that build and implement them,” said Pereboom, who majored in history and communications. 

Pereboom will now have the chance to apply those skills as a PMF Fellow. Regardless of the agency where he ends up, he said he looks forward to further deepening his comprehension of policy and government.

“Bureaucracies can seem very opaque from the outside, but I think the PMF will help me understand how these organizations function,” he said. “I trust that this organizational knowledge will prove extremely valuable as I embark on my career.”

Andrew Sharpe (MPP ’22) 

Policy interests: Environmental and education policy 

A research assistant for the Center for Effective Lawmaking and former editor for Virginia Policy Review, Sharpe said Batten professor Andrew Pennock’s course on Virginia politics and policy prepared him for both the PMF program and his future career.

“It brought together all of the [Batten] curriculum around analyzing data, understanding institutions, and exercising leadership on difficult topics,” he said. “These skills will be critical in furthering my career in public service and making progress on the challenges our world faces.”

Once he receives his PMF placement, he is excited to start applying his knowledge in the real world. “I hope to begin to see the positive impact that my education at Batten can provide to those around me,” he said.

Matty Stanley (MPP ’22) 

Policy interests: International relations and diplomacy

An intern with the National Security Policy Center, Stanley said she is especially interested in policy that promotes “a higher quality of life for people at home and abroad.” 

Stanley sees the PMF experience as a solid professional foundation that will allow her to pursue a career in international relations. “This program is a great way to learn more about the factors influencing federal policymaking, and I hope to engage as many perspectives and experiences as possible during my time with it,” she said.

Kaytee Wisley (MPP ’22)

Policy interests: Social welfare programs and access 

In addition to the opportunities for professional development, Wisley said she’s excited by the variety of experiences that the fellowship can offer. Wisley has interned with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked on campaigns to increase voting options during the pandemic, and with the advocacy organization Voices for Virginia’s Children, which champions public policies that improve the lives of young people.   

The hands-on learning experiences she’s had at Batten, she added, have prepared her for both the fellowship and her future career. “Batten provided me with the leadership skills and the technical skills I would need for any policy job,” she said.

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