Colleen Bowman, Olivia Parker and Grace Petty are this year’s recipients of the Robertson Fellowship. In partnership with the Robertson Foundation for Government, each fellow receives full tuition, a cost-of-living stipend and summer internship assistance.
Bowman joins the School of Public Policy (SPP) after serving as director of network engagement at the Hardwood Institute for Public Innovation. Her interest in foreign affairs came about when she interned for former Sen. John Kerry, who was serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time. Bowman also wrote her thesis analyzing U.S. involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process, and later represented her program at the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs at West Point.
“Since graduating in 2013, I’ve worked with various nonprofits and organizations that are committed to creating a safer and more equitable world. I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree so I can transition to a career more directly in public service,” said Bowman. “In other words, I don’t just want to advocate for these critical policies and programs — I want to help shape them.”
Bowman holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of the Holy Cross and will be focusing on international security and economic policy at SPP. After graduating, she hopes to work as a policy analyst in a role where she would research, analyze and make recommendations for policy decisions that impact global security.
Parker earned a degree in Chinese with a minor in French from Arizona State University. At a young age, her parents encouraged her to learn multiple languages, which led to her learning English and French at the same time. Going into middle school she started learning Chinese and had opportunities to study in Asia throughout her primary and secondary education. Parker walked and received her diploma in Taipei, Taiwan where she finished her studies and interned for a policy think tank.
“I want to be on the ground in an Asian country not only keeping Americans safe abroad but also helping those seeking a new life in the U.S. get that opportunity through visa services,” Parker explains. “I want American students to feel they have all the resources available to travel and learn about the world, which in the future will lead to more young people being adamant about promoting diplomacy worldwide.”
Parker will be focusing on international security and economics at SPP, and looks towards a future working as a public servant, while representing her home state of Texas throughout her career.
Petty comes to SPP with a degree in political science and a minor in business economics from the University of Notre Dame. After graduating, Petty performed two years of national service as an Americorps volunteer in Minneapolis, becoming deeply passionate about access to education. She will also be specializing in international security and economics during her time at SPP.
“I believe that exposure to the different roles, agencies, bureaus, and offices that exist will play a big role in my own career—you don’t know what you don’t know,” Petty says. “It was eye-opening to see the variety of paths and directions Fellows have taken and/or want to pursue.”
Working as an English teaching assistant in Rwanda through the Fulbright program, as well as working at African Leadership University, sparked Petty’s interest in Africa’s role on the global stage as its population and technological innovations continues to grow. She’s interested in promoting the U.S. foreign policy agenda in Africa as well as serving as an ambassador between American and African interests.
Students selected as Robertson Fellows must be enrolled in the two-year Master of Public Policy program and have a commitment to a career in the federal government in foreign policy, national security and/or international affairs. Robertson Fellows also participate in a Robertson internship and are required to work for the federal government for three of their initial seven years following graduation and to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language at the time of graduation.
The Robertson Foundation for Government is a nonprofit family foundation that works to identify, educate and motivate U.S. graduate students to pursue federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and international affairs. The foundation was established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson, and named in their honor.