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Why I Majored in Public Policy Analysis

Jose Huerta-Gutierrez ’20

I decided to major in public policy analysis (PPA) for a few reasons. First, I wanted to major in field that engaged with society and its problems rather than just learning theory. PPA requires a policy elective and a policy implementation class, both of which involve studying a policy and/or policymaker. In both of these classes observed policy implementation and asked policymakers how and why they came to their policy. Through these classes, I gained insight on the policy-creation process and skills to analyze policies. I also majored in PPA because of the support I found in the major. The PPA faculty is deeply involved with PPA majors. They help us find internships, ask for feedback and are constantly checking in.

My area of interest is immigration policy. As a first-generation immigrant, I have such a deep connection and concern with the current immigration crisis occurring at the southern border. This past summer I worked at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies in San Francisco, CA where I worked as a communications and development intern. I learned how to craft media content that conveyed the dire situation occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border and in the immigration court system. I also conducted research on the immigration policies enacted by the current president and his administration. That research was synthesized into policy memos that were used for congressional advocacy.

As a result of my summer internship and the PPA department, I secured an externship at Public Counsel in Koreatown. I work under the supervision of an immigration attorney and conduct intake interviews, track immigration judges and write reports. I conduct three-hour long interviews to determine the legitimacy and merits of a litigant’s case. After reviewing my notes and writing a report, I help my supervising attorney determine if we should take the case. I enjoy working at Public Counsel because I help connect litigants with pro-bono attorneys, medical providers and mental health resources. Public Counsel, generally, does not allow undergraduate students to extern, however, thanks to the PPA department they made an exception. I am incredibly grateful for the PPA department for their support and advocacy. In the near future, I plan to attend law school and pursue a career in immigration impact litigation.

Lauren Schoen ’20

Like many public policy analysis (PPA) majors, I had no idea what PPA even was when I started at Pomona. I originally intended to be a neuroscience major and go to medical school, but my classes at Pomona showed me that I’m more passionate about the policies governing healthcare – who can get it, who can afford it – than actually doing the healthcare myself. Specifically, I found myself becoming more and more passionate about women’s health and reproductive health issues, which allowed me to continue studying biology while also studying the policies surrounding women’s healthcare access. Beyond classes, PPA gave me the skills and support I needed to do work in the “real world.”

The summer after my sophomore year, I was able to use what I learned in my politics, economics and biology classes as a research assistant for Professor Stephanie Morain at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy. I researched parental leave policies at top schools of public health, since we were fairly certain they were not meeting their own standards. While the American Public Health Association recommends 14 weeks of paid leave for best health outcomes for the mother and child, we indeed found that the majority of public health schools only give paid leave for faculty – not staff – and most allow fewer than 14 weeks. We published our findings in the American Journal of Public Health, where we urged public health institutions to follow their own policy recommendations as a model for the rest of society.

Additionally, the PPA program is unique at Pomona in that it requires students to do a substantive internship either the fall semester of senior year in the Claremont/Los Angeles area or the spring semester of junior year through the CMC Washington Program. I did the D.C. Program and interned at NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the oldest and largest advocacy groups for reproductive rights. As the opposition research intern, I tracked the anti-choice movement’s actions so our teams could properly fight against them. Now that I’m back in Claremont, I can appreciate how being on the ground in D.C. has entirely changed my view of how policies are made and who makes them. I know that my internships and classes have fully prepared me for whatever steps I take after graduation.