Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 14, 2016

Anna Brunner, MPA

Anna Brunner, MPA

Hometown
Madison

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in political science, Penn State University

Research interests
Policy analysis in the public sector

Expected graduation
May 2017

Why an MPA?
As a political science major in undergrad, I knew that I wanted to be in the public sector arena in order to help others; however, I was never sure what avenue I wanted to take to get there. After a few years at Penn State, I began discussing master’s programs with my political science mentor, and she suggested looking into public policy/public affairs. After doing some research, I realized how instrumental a public affairs degree would be in the implementation, analysis, and advocacy of public policy.

Why the La Follette School?
As a Madison-native, being close to family was an important part of my decision to come to La Follette. However, the prestige of the university, as well as the strong quantitative coursework, pushed me over the edge in deciding to attend La Follette.

Summer internship
The U.S. Government Accountability Office was an amazing experience. Not only was I thrown in the deep end in regard to my projects, but I was given many opportunities to attend lectures, training, interviews, and upper-level management meetings to get the most out of my time in Washington, D.C. The city itself was colorful, lively, and there was always something that we could do after work or on the weekends. It was an unbelievable summer.

Which experiences and skills helped you get the internship?
The interviewers were extremely impressed by the coursework that is offered at the La Follette School. Specifically, Professor Moynihan’s public management course, as well as Professor Wallace’s statistical analysis course. It was important to the GAO that I had been exposed to higher-level statistics and had an opportunity for real-world projects. They also enjoyed hearing about my time at my undergrad newspaper, which showed my attention to detail.

What courses have you taken in which you’ve done work for real clients? Please describe the projects.
I am currently taking Benefit-Cost Analysis with Professor Weimer, where I am working on a project for the Madison and Dane County health department. We’re working with our client to increase efficiency in assisted living facilities in regard to falls. We will finish the project in December, but so far it’s been a challenging and thought-provoking experience. I appreciate the opportunity to work with a client to shed light on an issue that they care about, making the work we do that much more meaningful.

Any mentors, significant people?
I cannot stress this enough: my cohort has done so much for me, personally and professionally, that I will never be able to thank them enough. They push me to go after opportunities, they support me when classes and life get overwhelming, and they bring me joy inside and outside the classroom. They are some of the funniest, kindest, most inspiring people I know.

What are your career goals?
My current goal would be to be a policy analyst at the federal or state level. I would love the opportunity to do program evaluations in order to support evidence-based policy and make sure that programs are providing taxpayers with positive results.

What advice would you give to prospective La Follette School students?
Take advantage of everything. Take advantage of the fact that your cohort is small and you’ll be able to learn everyone’s names within your first semester. Take advantage of any and all academic and professional opportunities that you can find. Staff and faculty will help you whenever you need it.

La Follette School Student Association participation
I am the secretary for the La Follette School Student Association. It’s great to have the opportunity to give back to an association that supports our students, fund-raises, does community service, and plans things like graduation.