Eastern Michigan University student attends prestigious Harvard Public Policy Conference

Makaiya Snead
Makaiya Snead

YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University political science major Makaiya Snead was among a select group of talented undergraduates from across the nation invited to attend the 21st annual Public Policy Leadership Conference (PPLC), hosted by the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) last month.

The conference, held virtually October 8-10, provided an immersive networking and intensive professionalizing experience to promising undergraduate students pursuing careers in federal, state, or local governments, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, intergovernmental organizations, international institutions, or social enterprises.

Marny Mitchell, the Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Harvard Kennedy School, noted that “the mission of the conference is to prepare future leaders, particularly those from historically underrepresented and under-served communities, to enter the fields of public policy and international affairs.” Prospective participants like Snead, currently a sophomore, had to submit an essay describing their motivation to pursue public policy studies and have a GPA of 3.0 or better.

At the conference, Snead met with fellow participants, HKS students, faculty, and public policy staff from around the nation. She attended courses and workshops with HKS professors and met with admissions representatives of public policy graduate school programs. Snead was especially grateful to have heard from diverse professionals about their personal life and industry-related experiences in public policy. “We also got to chat with Harvard professors,” Snead said, “who gave us many tips, and alumni who shared where the program has gotten them.” 

“We got to learn about all the different types of public policy” issues impacting contemporary life, “including AI and technology, climate and environmental justice, community and economic development, and racial justice,” shared Snead. “It helped me better understand the world of public policy.”

The three-day conference also featured resume and cover letter workshops, information sessions about fellowships, student and faculty panels, policy sessions, communication and leadership workshops and presentations by keynote speakers. Snead highlighted the “Opportunities Fair session,” in particular as one benefit of the PPLC: “We could hop from room to room to ask questions and hear from professionals from programs like Harvard and Yale and hear about scholarships and internships.”

Students who attended the conference left not only with tangible resources and connections, but also with encouragement to combat injustice and to remain steadfast in their own convictions.

Snead underscored how grateful she was to have had this unique opportunity to develop her public policy and leadership skills as she continues her undergraduate studies at Eastern and eventually pursues a graduate degree in the field.

“I would definitely recommend it,” said Snead. “It was an extremely enjoyable experience and I wish that I could do it again.”

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

November 10, 2021

Written by:
Kaley Plaxton

Darcy Gifford