Hunter Juniors Win Public Affairs Summer Fellowships at Princeton and Carnegie Mellon

March 2, 2016 | Hunter College

Hunter congratulatesPPIA Christian F. Sebastien Dalencourt ’17 and Joy Nuga ’17, the newly announced recipients of prestigious, nationally competitive Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowships.

As PPIA Fellows, both will spend the summer of 2016 completing intensive studies in economics, statistics, domestic/international policy and leadership development – Dalencourt at Princeton, and Nuga at Carnegie Mellon. Their fellowships also include generous grants for graduate school.

PPIA’s stated goal is to prepare high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds for graduate programs and leadership roles in public service, “to ensure that the policies being made on a national and global level are reflective of the needs of all kinds of people.” Since the program’s inception, PPIA reports, its alumni have built “a distinguishable network of committed, innovative and respected professionals across the globe.”

Achievement Across the Social, Digital and Biological Sciences

Dalencourt, a student in Hunter’s Public Policy Program at Roosevelt House, is pursuing a double major in public policy and computer science, with a concentration in bioinformatics, and not just one, but two minors: in biology and international relations. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he came to New York after the devastating 2010 earthquake to attend high school in Brooklyn, and then studied at the NYC College of Technology before transferring to Hunter.

“The Public Policy Program was a compelling factor in my choosing Hunter,” Dalencourt says. “I was especially attracted by its interdisciplinary approach – and by the fact that you don’t have to be a poli sci major or policy nerd to be accepted.”

Dalencourt has taken full advantage of the resources, opportunities and events offered at Roosevelt House, and says a recent favorite was last fall’s public program on the role of science in advancing diplomacy. He also praises Professor Shyama Venkateswar, director of the Public Policy Program and a devoted mentor who helped him win the PPIA Fellowship. Beyond Roosevelt House, he says, Professor Cynthia Roberts’ political science courses inspired him to minor in international relations.

This will be Dalencourt’s third summer at Princeton. When he was selected in 2014 for the university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Molecular & Computational Biology, he worked with a Princeton expert on immune responses to viruses that infect the nervous system. In 2015, he was invited back to continue that work.

Looking ahead, Dalencourt is unsure of his exact career path but firm in his intention to “hold a position where I can have a significant impact on Haiti’s economic development, health security, and education system.”

Proudly Purple and Psyched about Cybersecurity

Nuga, a student in Hunter’s Macaulay Honors College, is majoring in economics with a double minor in math and German. She is also earning a public policy certificate at Roosevelt House.

The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Nuga was born and raised in the Bronx, where she attended all-girls parochial schools. She credits her high school, St. Jean Baptiste, not only for her growth as an “outspoken female,” but also for steering her toward the college she has loved since day one.

“At St. Jean Baptiste, they knew about the prestige of Macaulay at Hunter and encouraged me to apply. I was their first student to be accepted, which was very exciting,” she says. “Now I can’t imagine what life would have been like if I’d attended one of the other colleges offering me admission. Hunter has given me a wonderful campus community, individualized attention from academic advisors, and priceless help in winning this fellowship.”

Nuga has special praise for Professors Ingmar Nyman and Matthew Baker of the Department of Economics, who, she says, “showed me that economics isn’t simply supply and demand graphs – that you can apply economics to almost every academic field.” She plans to apply a mastery of economics to the field of cybersecurity, and hopes that after earning a graduate degree, she can build a career in government service.

This semester, she’s completing a cybersecurity internship at John Jay College and serving in Hunter’s Undergraduate Student Government as an elected member of the Senate. She’s thrilled about next summer, because Carnegie Mellon offers a fellowship strongly focused on digital technology.