Watson Institute at Brown University
Public Policy

Student Spotlight: Jenna Knueppel '20

Public Policy Track: Government, Law & Ethics & Engaged Scholar

Interests: Social Policy, Tribal Affairs, Music & Coffee

My name is Jenna Knueppel and I’m a senior concentrating in Public Policy. As an Ojibwe woman from Milwaukee and the first in my family to go college, I’m driven to serve urban, low-income, and Indigenous communities as well as other under-represented people. The last four years I’ve participated in leadership roles as well as service-oriented professional and academic programs, such as Brown in DC and Brown in Tulsa. Most recently, I spent Summer 2019 at Princeton University participating in their Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute (PPIA JSI).

The seven-week Junior Summer Institute (JSI) is designed to help students from minority and under-served backgrounds pursue graduate degrees and careers in public affairs. There are five schools that host a PPIA JSI and I chose the Princeton program for its academic immersion. At Princeton, students take graduate-level economics, statistics, public speaking, policy analysis and writing courses at the Woodrow Wilson School. Students spend their summer focusing on either international or domestic policy, under the guidance of policy practitioners and academics in the field. By the end of the program, students draw on their coursework and experiences to create and present a comprehensive final report to relevant stakeholders and professionals.

I participated in the domestic policy track and my team’s final report presented recommendations on how Pennsylvania can incorporate social determinants of health into their Medicaid expansion. To influence our recommendations, I drew on skills from my quantitative and qualitative courses as well as from site visits and conversations with policy experts. The most exciting site visits included a weekend in DC, where my domestic team met with staffers and policy advisers at the Congressional Budget Office, Ways and Means Committee, and the House of Representatives.

After seven weeks of exams, policy memos, oral briefings, STATA, site visits, and more, I not only left with ready-to-use policy skills but will also be provided future support to pursue graduate studies via application fee waivers, GRE prep, and scholarships. I also now have immeasurable support from a community of peers with unique backgrounds and interests, who will simultaneously go through the graduate school process and pursue careers in public service. For all these reasons, the Princeton PPIA JSI helped me feel more confident in continuing my path in public policy and I would greatly suggest the program to any person from an under-represented background interested in domestic or international affairs. 

Learn more about the Junior Summer Institute here.