Rob Stupar interned with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Madison nonprofit RENEW Wisconsin during the summer of 2014.
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Rob Stupar turned to public policy for graduate school because no matter which professional field he considered as an undergraduate, he felt that there was no better way to help solve national problems than through public policy.
"During my undergraduate career I was exposed to many different perspectives through experiences in the corporate world and academia," Stupar says. "I also took classes ranging from sociological theory to organic chemistry. While I was interested in many of the topics, I felt limited in my ability to influence society with careers in most of the fields I was considering, such as engineering, chemistry, biology, and sociology. I found that the impact of the work done in these fields was heavily dependent on the public policy surrounding them. It became clear to me that policy that was the crux of progress. Because of this, I want to dedicate my career to developing effective policy."
Stupar graduated in 2013 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in community and environmental sociology. As a student starting the La Follette School's Master of Public Affairs program, he received scholarships from the La Follette School's Dennis Dresang, Clara Penniman and Alumni-Friends funds. "I am grateful to all the donors to these funds," Stupar says. "These scholarships are helping me pay for tuition this year."
Stupar enrolled in the La Follette School to develop the skills he needs to dedicate his career to public service. "Public policy presents both the biggest challenge and opportunity to make enduring, meaningful impacts in America," Stupar says. "I want to gain the tools to analyze and create policies in innovative ways to seek out the root causes of problems. By doing this, I will be able to help improve our nation and world for years to come."
Stupar is focusing his studies on energy policy and plans to pursue a certificate in energy analysis and policy along with his MPA. "Energy is at the core of every aspect of modern society," he says. "We need energy for transportation, agriculture, medicine, communication, water purification, etc. Our society will need to develop a comprehensive plan for how we will meet our energy demands, as current energy sources are becoming increasingly scarce, expensive, and hard on the environment. It will be challenging to develop policy that can navigate political, cultural, and technical obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting energy plan. That is why I find energy policy interesting."
During the summer before starting at La Follette, Stupar combined his interests in sociology and economics by working on a research project with professor Gary Green in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. "We researched how the Great Recession and deindustrialization in Janesville, Wisconsin, has affected communities in Rock County," Stupar says. "We explored topics such as community members' disillusionment with the local economy as well as attitudes toward government aid for the unemployed." Along with his research, Stupar volunteered regularly this summer with Habitat for Humanity of Dane County in Fitchburg.
Stupar looks forward to learning the analytical skills for which the La Follette School is so well known. "I need a strong foundation in quantitative skills if I want to develop meaningful policy," he says, adding that the La Follette School's small size and small teacher-to-student ratio willgive him the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with faculty members.
"Public service is important to me because it provides me with the ability to impact the lives of the greatest amount of people," Stupar says. "I want to help as many people as I can with what I do in my professional career, and public service's wide-reaching nature grants me the opportunity to do so."
After he graduates in 2015, Stupar hopes to work for an energy policy consulting firm that focuses on the development of renewable energy technologies, preferably in Madison, Washington, D.C, or Freiburg, Germany. "I am passionate about developing solutions for the problems that our nation faces, particularly when it comes to energy," Stupar says. "I want to do whatever I can to foster energy efficiency, environmental conservation and economic prosperity through compromise and analytical problem-solving."