Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Elgin Karls, MPA

Elgin Karls (left) Elgin Karls (left)

Racine, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degrees in economics and Spanish, University of Iowa, 2013

Professional/research interests
Social policy

Expected graduation date
May 2018

Other degree, certificate
Master’s degree in Latin American Iberian and Caribbean Studies

Summer internship
The Organization of American States (OAS) in the Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia

What were your primary job responsibilities?
Thanks to the La Follette School Summer Public Affairs Learning Experience Award Program, I was able to go to the OAS and gain first-hand experience supporting the peace process in Colombia. My primary responsibility was building out maps to track demobilization activities in the regions most afflicted by the internal conflict.

Why the La Follette School?
Without a doubt, my favorite part of La Follette is the small cohorts – everyone knows each other’s name and looks out for one another. I didn’t understand how valuable this aspect was until I arrived on Visit Day. The intimate class sizes and accessible faculty and staff truly make this program feel like a family.

Research assistantship
I am in my third semester with Associate Professor Alexandra Huneeus in the Law School. I assist with her research regarding the influence of international law on domestic law, more specifically in the current Colombian peace process and transition to democracy in Peru.

Most rewarding La Follette experience
It’s hard to choose just one rewarding experience because I have cherished my time at La Follette. I’ve loved being able to grow both personally and professionally on client projects while exploring my interests outside of the department.

What did you do before enrolling at the La Follette School?
Before coming to La Follette, I spent three years living and working in New York City as a home visitor, providing services to Spanish-speaking immigrant families and subsequently as a resource development associate at a nonprofit organization in the New York Housing Authority’s Queensbridge Houses.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Visit all the schools you can to find the program that best fits your needs and interests. If and when you choose La Follette, check out all of the amazing lectures on campus – my personal favorites are at the Law School and in the Latin American Studies Department!

La Follette School Student Association (LSSA)
I am secretary of LSSA, and I co-planned the 2017 LSSA Fall Trivia fundraiser, where I was the MC (see picture above!)