Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, March 28, 2021

Amelia Stastney, MIPA

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Hometown
Mequon, WI

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in international studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, May 2020

Professional/research interests
Refugee policy, U.S. foreign policy

Honors
Ichiro and Toyoko Matsudira Memorial Fund Scholar, Undergraduate Humanities Exchange Grant recipient

Expected graduation date
May 2021

Why a MIPA?
During my junior year at UW–Madison, I was selected to take a part in the Resource Navigation Program, where I worked in local clinics as a resource navigator (social worker) and one-on-one with 20+ patients a week. This program was created as an answer to the question: why can't a doctor prescribe food for an empty belly, a house to live in, or heat in the winter? Doctors were noticing that patients would come in with a sickness that was caused by not having enough to eat or living on the street. I worked specifically with non-English speaking patients, helping them apply for food stamps, job training, affordable housing, etc.

It was during my time as a resource navigator that I became passionate about helping refugees. I had always known that I wanted to “do good,” but I felt through helping recent immigrants and refugees that I had found my calling. I grew frustrated at the bureaucratic challenges my patients faced, and I knew a MIPA degree was right for me.

Why the La Follette School
The faculty expertise in social policy and the ability to pursue foreign affairs related classes. During my time at the La Follette School, I have taken graduate-level classes in African studies, history, and geography.

Career goals
I would like to work as a diplomat or directly with people who are affected by U.S. foreign policy. After graduation, I plan to move to Washington D.C.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
The La Follette School has opened my eyes to the importance of public policy. Every decision one makes in public policy is layered, and, at each step along the way, there are hundreds of stakeholders in your decision. It can make policy creation and analysis complicated and fun.

Assistantship
I was a teaching assistant for Introduction to International Relations in the Department of Political Science with Professor Mark Copelovitch. This semester, I am a teaching assistant in Biological Anthropology. Teaching assistantships obviously help pay for college, but they also reinforce a lot of very useful skills. TAing has helped me curate my communication and presentation skills.

Client-based projects
In Workshop in International Public Affairs (PA 860), I am working with the Brown County Refugee Taskforce. It was awesome to find a project that aligned so well with my interests. We are working with the Taskforce to estimate the number of secondary refugees in Brown County and find ways to address gaps in services provided and services needed by the population.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
It is only two years (or one, in my case, because I am an accelerated student), so focus on classes that interest you. I am always surprised, when taking classes in African studies and history, that the topics I am studying in public policy overlap. These intersections help me better conceptualize and understand my studies at the La Follette School.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
As someone with a humanities brain, I found that statistics for policy was the hardest class. Despite this, it may have been the most useful.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
I have really enjoyed pulling together the skills I have learned during my time here and applying them in my capstone project. You can read more about Workshop and past reports written by students here.

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
My knowledge of public policy colors almost every headline I read and institution I encounter. It has really changed that way I see structures of power and the world.