Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Ben Miller-Gootnick ‘17.5

Name: Ben Miller-Gootnick ‘17.5

Concentration: Public Policy

Hometown: Washington, DC

What are some of the things that you have done so far?

I've worked for Representatives Jared Polis and Joe Kennedy, on the President's 2012 campaign, in the Rhode Island Senate Policy Office, and most recently as an intern in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. All these experiences have given me the opportunity to view the Congress and the Presidency from a lot of different angles--as Hill staff, campaign staff, White House staff, and in state government--and each have illuminated different aspects of the federal policymaking process.

What has been the biggest takeaway for you from the work that you have done so far?

My work has left me with tremendous respect for the work Congress does and a deep admiration of the Legislative process. There certainly are aspects of our Congress that are broken, but overall, I've seen how the people working in the Federal government do what they do because they genuinely want to make the country a better place.

How has your non-academic experience impacted how you view your education at Brown or vice versa?

My work experience and my Brown education enrich the other and together leave me with a deeper understanding of the policymaking process than either piece could alone. Last year, for instance, I applied the models we studied in my public policy class to memos in the Rhode Island Senate Policy Office on topics ranging from motorcycle safety to health insurance. And in my Congressional Leadership course, I'm analyzing the work I did on Trade Promotion Authority in the White House within the broader context of the changing structure of the House leadership organization. My academic and non-academic experiences play off each other and both have been indispensable pieces of my Brown education.