Two years of students dropping out, violence in school and disengaged parents brought Selina Eadie to the La Follette School to earn a Master of Public Affairs degree.
After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2009, Eadie headed to Oakland to join AmeriCorps. She coordinated a mentoring program and supervised other AmeriCorps members. "I was inspired by my students but frustrated with their lack of academic opportunity," Eadie says. "The middle school where I worked faced many challenges, and I kept saying to myself 'There HAVE to be programs or federal policies that address these problems!'"
Now Eadie is going to Washington, D.C., for the summer to serve as a senior associate intern with the public school system, ready to test the policy analysis skills she gained during her first year at La Follette.
Eadie will be working for the school district's Office of College and Career Readiness. "My project will involve proposing a policy for community service curriculum in D.C. public high schools," she says. "The policy analysis skills I learned in David Weimer's Policy Analysis class helped prepare me for assessing what type of curriculum would be the most beneficial and effective for DC students."
Eadie is focusing her MPA studies on education policy. "I am pursuing a public affairs degree so that I can analyze the educational policy that impacts at-risk youth and promote programs that will expand student access to academic resources," she says.
"As a La Follette student, I am acquiring the tools to research programs and policies that address school violence, lack of parental involvement and students who drop out and then assess whether those programs and policies are 'worth' implementing," Eadie says. "The quantitative skill courses at La Follette are showing me how to quantify the costs and benefits of potential policy solutions. To use a cliché, La Follette is preparing me to 'walk the walk' rather than just 'talk the talk' when it comes to facilitating policy change."
Eadie walked and talked public policy as an intern with the Rainbird Foundation, a Madison non-profit with a mission to end child abuse. Eadie worked on several sustainability and community outreach projects. "I am researching affiliate development and potential community outreach strategies," says Eadie, who plans to continue with Rainbird next year. "My quantitative coursework has taught me how to objectively assess and compare programs and strategies."
Eadie says she chose La Follette for many reasons. "The program took the time to make my visit very personal and informative — I was able to talk to professors John Witte and Doug Harris and to sit in on one of professor Don Moynihan's classes," Eadie says. "I also appreciated that La Follette not only offers interesting and beneficial classes, but the school advises students to take classes in other schools and departments — including the highly respected School of Education. La Follette teaches its students invaluable analytical skills while encouraging us to pursue classes in our policy interest area, and this to me is the ideal graduate experience."
Eadie won a fellowship for her first year at the La Follette School. "I am incredibly grateful to La Follette — the fellowship allowed me to me to move halfway across the country and embrace my Midwest relocation," Eadie says.
Selina Eadie, left, recruited a group of La Follette School students and friends to volunteer for the city of Madison's Earth Day event. With Eadie are (from left): Daisy Chung, Becky Chown, Mark Dhillon, Kelsey Hill, Joe O'Connell, Phil Sletten and Ryan Eisner.
During her second semester, Eadie took Comparative and National Social Policy with Tim Smeeding; Advanced Quantitative Methods for Public Policy with Harris, whose specialty is education policy; Introduction to Policy Analysis with David Weimer; and the Policymaking Process with Susan Yackee.
"I am very interested in the correlation between conditions of poverty and student achievement, from test scores to classroom behavior to graduation rates," Eadie says, "and I appreciated the opportunity to research and analyze social and educational policy for these classes."
She appreciates that the La Follette School nurtures good relationships among students. "I love La Follette's small size — it encourages engagement and allows La Follette students to use each other as resources for learning and support," Eadie says. "La Follette students even know each other's specific policy areas and career goals — we are a community."
Eadie helps to bring that community together by serving on the La Follette School Student Association's volunteer committee during her first year and as community service and outreach coordinator for the 2012-13 school year. "Voluntarism is a huge part of my life," Eadie says. In April, she recruited La Follette School students to volunteer as part of the city of Madison's Earth Day Challenge and spent a few hours weeding, raking and mulching in Goodman Park.
Eadie's AmeriCorps service, volunteer work and the quantitative skills she is gaining at the La Follette School will inform her career. She hopes to develop local or state education programs, or work in education for the federal government. "My experiences observing and participating in public service have defined my career ambitions and personal attitudes," Eadie says. "I know that a career in public service will allow me to apply my interest in policy evaluation and passion for educational equity in a meaningful and positive way."
—updated June 27, 2014