Whitman Sophomore Annelle Mendez Awarded Prestigious Fellowship to Study Public Policy at Princeton this Summer

WALLA WALLA, Wash.— Whitman sophomore Annelle Mendez has been awarded a prestigious fellowship to attend the Public Policy & International Affairs Program at Princeton University this summer.

The PPIA Summer Institute at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is a seven-week program that seeks to increase leadership opportunities for future global policy leaders in both the public and nonprofit sectors. Participants are provided with the tools of critical thinking, speaking, writing and quantitative reasoning and with the skills and experiences necessary to create, analyze, implement, evaluate and affect policy in a multicultural, multiethnic society.

Princeton’s summer institute is part of the Public Policy & International Affairs Fellowship Program, a national consortium of the top public policy and international affairs graduate schools that prepare college juniors for advanced degrees and careers serving the public good.

Annelle Mendez
Annelle Mendez

Mendez, a chemistry-environmental studies major with a minor in French, grew up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She said in her application letter that she noticed the coexistence of extreme poverty and opulence in her home town at an early age and “developed a sense of duty that called me to use my privileged status as a way to make a difference.” This sense of duty, she said, was a reason she decided to obtain a high-quality education in the United States, and her experience “has increased my desire to become active in shaping and implementing public policy.”

As a teenager traveling through the rural areas of Honduras, Mendez said she saw the close ties between environmental deterioration and public welfare. “I believe it is therefore crucial to integrate environmental principles into poverty reduction strategies that are currently part of the agenda of organizations such as the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization, an agenda which I aspire to champion and execute throughout Latin America.”

As a high school student Mendez joined the International Web of Ecoclubs as a first step into public service, and at Whitman she helped found the Whitman Direct-Action Biodiesel Summer Project. From June through August of 2006 Mendez and five of her peers traveled throughout Central America, visiting non-governmental agencies and hosting conference-workshops on producing and using biodiesel as an alternative energy source. Organizing the project, said Mendez, required a lot of networking with NGO’s and private companies, as well as completing grant applications and documenting research in addition to interviewing “home brewers” and biodiesel experts. (The students learned how to make biodiesel before they left for Central America and showed others the process while they were there.)

Mendez said she plans to cultivate the necessary skills for such work in the future through the PPIA’s writing workshops and the courses that focus on strengthening public speaking. The knowledge she has gained in her studies of environmental chemistry at Whitman, she added, will need to be combined with skills in economics, speaking, writing and policy analysis to accomplish her goal of finding solutions to empower poor communities. By participating in PPIA, she said, “I hope to complement my preparation for pursuing graduate work targeted towards sustainable development such as the Environmental Science and Policy program at Columbia University.”

For information about applying for this and other fellowships, please contact Shannon Gilmore in the Office of Grants and Fellowships in Reid Campus Center 222, 527-5184, or gilmorsk@whitman.edu.

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CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu