Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Cartecia Lawrence, MPA

Cartecia Lawrence Cartecia Lawrence

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in legal studies and Afro American studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2015 (2015 PEOPLE Program alumna as well)

Professional/research interests
Social and poverty policy, government administration

2015 College of Letters and Science Meyerhoff Undergraduate Excellence Award for Leadership, Scholarship and Service

Expected graduation date

Why an MPA?
I grew up in the 53206 ZIP code of Milwaukee, the most incarcerated ZIP code in the nation. Two-thirds of the children in this ZIP code live in poverty; its population is 95 percent black. My single, first-generation, Jamaican mother struggled to juggle with basic necessities because we simply could not have it all. Educational and health outcomes of its residents are far below those in ZIP codes just 10 to 15 minutes up Burleigh Street. As a child, I always wondered why. I am the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree and will be the first to earn a master’s degree. This distinction is important for me to show my family and community that 53206 can produce scholars who cannot only change the life trajectory of their families but work to help change the trajectory of the families adjacent to theirs.

My work experiences have helped cultivate my passion for building vulnerable families by increasing their access to educational, social, and financial capital through policy. One of the most impactful experiences I had while I was in undergrad was working as an Affirmative Action Student Professionals In Residence (AASPIRE) intern with the City of Madison Department of Civil Rights. That experience opened my eyes to the work that has been and needs to be done to ensure that equity work remains integral to and a part of government administration.  

Why the La Follette School?
I am very family oriented. I returned to Milwaukee the year before I applied to the La Follette School and wanted to stay close as well as receive a rigorous, world class education. The La Follette School was my ideal program.

Having spent some time in the workforce before deciding to return to school, I knew that having strong quantitative skills was something I was lacking. The La Follette School’s passion for cultivating students’ quantitative and qualitative skills was a big reason why I chose this program.

Funding was a very important factor in returning to school. After receiving a project assistant offer with the La Follette School, I was drawn to the program even more.

What skills do you hope to learn at the La Follette School?
I hope to learn program analysis methods, best practices for government administration, cost-benefit analysis, policy analysis methods, and networking/interviewing skills.

Career goals
My ultimate career goals are to secure a leadership position in a state government agency or a university program whose work focuses on building vulnerable families and communities.

Before the La Follette School ...
I worked as a program assistant/office manager with the new Milwaukee office for UW–Madison’s PEOPLE Program. Before that, I worked as a special assistant to the Director of Family and Community Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services in Chicago, a policy fellow with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in Springfield, and a seventh-grade social studies teacher/Teach for American Corps member at Colleton County Middle School in Walterboro, SC.

Anything else?
I am excited to be welcoming my first child, Kareem, very soon! I am very passionate about travelling to new places.

My favorite author is Toni Morrison, my favorite books are The Bluest Eye and The Autobiography of Assata Shakur, my favorite movie is Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and my favorite TV show is “How to Get Away with Murder.”