Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Miranda Ehrlich, MPA

Miranda Ehrlich (MPA) Miranda Ehrlich (MPA)

Plymouth, MN

High school
Wayzata High School

Undergraduate degree
University of Minnesota, bachelor’s degrees in political science and communications studies

Professional/research interests
Environmental policy, global warming

La Follette fellowship, National Merit Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Minnesota, 2015 National Debate Champion (American Debate Association)

Expected graduation
May 2017

Why an MPA?
I originally became interested in pursuing a career in policy after participating for a number of years in extracurricular debate, where we regularly debated policy issues. I decided to pursue an MPA in particular after doing an internship with the Minnesota State Senate. A committee administrator who I worked with closely there had an MPA, and so I learned about the degree from him. I also have a mentor with an MPA who runs a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, and she helped me decide where to go to school.

Why the La Follette School?
I decided to attend the La Follette School of Public Affairs because of its strong reputation, small class sizes, and great location. Madison is an awesome city to attend school – it’s the state capitol, so there are policy-related opportunities everywhere, and it’s just a really fun and vibrant city in which to be a young person. I also had heard that La Follette had a smaller, closer-knit policy school than other, larger schools I was considering, and that turned out to be 100 percent true.

What did you do during the summer between your first and second years at La Follette?
I am doing a finance internship with the City of Madison Parks Division. I am helping develop the division’s 2017 operating budget request.

Which experiences and skills helped you get the position/internship?
Just being in a reputable MPA program helped a lot! Even though I didn’t have prior experience in city finance, I was able to draw on my general experience in policy analysis and statistics to help sell myself as a good fit for the position.

Volunteer activities
Last year, I volunteered as the debate coach for Madison East High School and helped raise money (about $1,500) for the school to start a team. I also am volunteering for the Wisconsin Debate Coaches Association, and I am helping the organization put together materials for beginner debaters to learn about next year’s topic.

What are your career goals?
I hope to pursue a career in the public sector, ideally relating to environmental issues in some way. I’m particularly interested in policy responses to climate change. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my ideal job would be – it may be in a nonprofit organization or it may be in government. Right now, I’m keeping my options open!

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
I’ve gained skills and connections that I never would have otherwise achieved. I feel like my coursework has really sharpened my analytical abilities, particularly through classes such as Policy Analysis.

What advice would you give to prospective La Follette School students?
Make sure you get out to some student events! Grad school is a lot more fun if you’re friends with your cohort.

Most challenging experience at the La Follette School?
I had a lot of assignments due the last few weeks of second semester, and it was tough balancing my time. That’s my other piece of advice for incoming students – don’t procrastinate on 20-page papers!

Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School?
Meeting so many great people. La Follette isn’t just a school; it’s a community. And that’s what sets being a student here apart from being a student at so many other places.

La Follette School Student Association participation
Yes, I am the social chair. I help plan weekly student outings (usually on Thursday nights) as well as other events. For example, last year we had get-togethers to watch the presidential primary debates.