by Chris McCrackin, MPP'25 and Chloe Fowler, MPP'25
September 19, 2023
As orientation week kicked off for the Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) program in August, the program and its associated departments welcomed eighteen new MPP candidates. The overall cohort brings energy, excitement and a broad range of interests to William & Mary. Half are current William & Mary students accepted into the accelerated 5-year Bachelor’s + Master’s program. The others are graduates of several different universities who arrived in Williamsburg to begin the traditional 2-year Master’s track.
During their course of study, members of the MPP Class of 2025 will broaden their knowledge on the policy process and gain valuable substantive knowledge and quantitative skills to better answer compelling policy questions. While mostly taking classes together, they also will explore specific areas of policy that interest them within Public Policy classes and others across campus.
The cohort began its experience with a week-long orientation to introduce them to campus and refresh their knowledge on various subjects. This included the intensive math bootcamp led by Prof. McBeth, which began at linear algebra and ended at derivatives. The orientation also included sessions with Profs. Kennedy and Byrne (law and public policy), Prof. McGlennon (policy process), and Prof. Lopresti (statistics).
At the end of the week, students presented a three-minute “lightning talk” on a policy area of interest. Topics included food insecurity, voter reform, Holocaust education, and more. To celebrate the end of orientation, faculty and students gathered at the Corner Pocket in Newtown. (For more pictures follow us on Instagram!)
“Overall, we are excited to welcome this new group of students,” said Prof. Paul Manna, Director of Public Policy and Hyman Professor of Government. “The lightning talks, especially, made clear that they bring a huge variety of interests and expertise to the program. Our faculty and staff are excited to work with them and to help them learn from one another and the second year MPP students, as well.”
While this year’s cohort includes nine William & Mary students from a range of majors including economics, public policy, philosophy, and religious studies, the class also includes nine students from seven different undergraduate institutions across Virginia and the United States. The institutions represented include the University of Mary Washington, Davidson College, the University of Lynchburg, and Virginia Tech. Overall, the cohort represents eight different states and Washington D.C., from as far north as Illinois and as far west as Hawaii. Bios of the incoming cohort appear below.
Mary-Elise Alworth (MPP): Mary-Elise graduated from the University of Mary Washington this past May, where she majored in Political Science and Philosophy and minored in Practical Ethics. Pertaining to public policy, she is especially interested in how the gender of policymakers impacts the policies they choose to champion.
Peyton Bernstein (BA/MPP): Peyton had such a positive experience here at W&M working towards his bachelor’s degree that he decided to stick around for an extra year! His main interests lie in healthcare policy and the legislative process.
Ben Coulter (MPP/MBA): Ben is a joint MBA/MPP student with a background in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics. Originally from Upland, CA, he received his bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. He is passionate about both sustainability and addressing climate change and plans to achieve those goals by consulting with both businesses and policymakers.
Thomas Cronin (BA/MPP): Thomas Cronin is an Economics major in his senior year and a first year Master’s in Public Policy student at William & Mary. He is interested in economic policy, especially its effects on low-income individuals, and is planning to do policy research in the nonprofit or public sectors after graduating.
Marley Fishburn (BA/MPP): Marley is a member of the Student Assembly, Spotswood Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, and serves as a freshman Resident Assistant. She is also interested in climate policy, specifically Indigenous-led conservation models, and education policy regarding the financing of public education. She also enjoys painting, a good hike, and good friends.
Anna Marie Flatt (BA/MPP): Anna Marie is from a U.S. Navy family currently located in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is interested in healthcare policy and studying policies to combat food insecurity and homelessness. Her other campus involvements include working as a Resident Assistant and serving on the executive board for the national honor fraternity Phi Sigma Pi.
Chloe Fowler (MPP): Chloe Fowler is a recent graduate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with double minors in Leadership & Public Policy and Nonprofit Management. She enjoys collecting vinyl music, knitting, and exploring the areas around her - being from Nebraska, she is the biggest advocate of independent legislatures and unicameralism.
Benjamin Lee (BA/MPP): Ben is a 4+1 BA+MPP student at William and Mary where he majors in Philosophy and Public Policy. He is an Everton and Colts fan, and his favorite tv show of all time is Supernatural.
Caroline Leibowitz (BA/MPP): Caroline is a Religious Studies major, currently learning mandolin, and working on a thesis about witchcraft. She feels very passionately about sustainability and improving accessibility of plant-based meals as well as defending the rights of LGBTQ+ youth.
Shaun Matthew (BA/MPP): Shaun is a W&M senior in the BA/MPP program studying Economics and Environmental Policy, both of which are his primary policy areas of interest. He is a captain of W&M's undergrad mock trial team and a research assistant in the geoLab.
Christopher McCrackin (MPP): Chris graduated from Washington and Lee University majoring in English and Classics and spent time as a teaching assistant in the University of Georgia’s Classics Department. Before coming to Williamsburg, he was a special education and remedial English teacher. His interests include the application of education policy and student classification.
Maggie Meinhardt (MPP): Maggie is from Washington, DC and graduated from Davidson College in May with a degree in economics. She is interested in women’s and children’s health policy issues.
Katelyn Oxer (BA/MPP): Katelyn is on the accelerated BA/ MPP track focusing on international development. Her interests include running, yoga, and gender equality.
Zack Potts (MPP): Zach is a recent graduate of University of Lynchburg where he majored in International Relations with a focus in the global south, as well as minored in the Spanish language. He also played baseball at Lynchburg, where they won the National Championship. He plans to continue to play baseball here at William and Mary.
Madison Richardson (MPP): Madison graduated from Virginia Tech in 2022 with a BA in Political Science. She hopes to further her interest in health and education policy through the MPP program.
Madison Scalf (BA/MPP): Madison transferred from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond in the fall of 2021. Her undergraduate is in Public Policy with a concentration in economics. For the past five years, she has worked on and off democratic political campaigns here in Virginia. Advocacy and equitable policy are important to her, so she hopes to use the MPP to build skills in order to become an informed politician.
Dana Smith (MPP): Dana attended the University of Mary Washington and majored in economics. She is interested in voter reform policy.
Owen Williams (MPP): Owen is a William & Mary graduate from the Class of 2023, interested in education and electoral policy and the intersection of politics and the policy process. He enjoys travel, movies, live music, and good food!