MPA student Ariana Hammersmith and La Follette School alum Ian Pearson (MPA ’22) were both selected as finalists by the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, the federal government’s flagship leadership development program. The program is extremely selective: of the more than 10,000 individuals from around the world who applied, only 850 finalists were chosen this year. As part of the program, Hammersmith and Pearson will be appointed to two-year, full-time federal positions to apply their skills while engaging in leadership development training.
“PMF is a rarefied pathway to a career in federal service, and I’m honored to have made it to this point in the process,” said Hammersmith, who plans to complete her MPA this spring. “I hope to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve gained over the last two years at La Follette in a public service role and PMF is a fantastic way of jumpstarting that goal.”
“As a first-generation college student, it is hard to describe the surreal nature of being recognized among this stellar cohort of aspiring public servants,” commented Ian Pearson, who received an MPA from the La Follette School in 2022. “This opportunity would not have been possible if not for the amazing mentorship and support that I have received throughout my academic journey. I hope to make use of these experiences to be a strong mentor to ensure that fellowships like this are accessible to all future graduate students.” Pearson is considering exploring his interest in education policy through work at the Department of Education.
Pearson says that La Follette School staff and alumni were crucial to his success in becoming a finalist. Director of career and employer services Marie Koko connected Pearson with alumni who have received the fellowship in the past, who helped prepare him to navigate the application process. “I also think the multi-disciplinary, project-based structure of the La Follette curriculum was essential because it enabled me to demonstrate experience with conducting and presenting on a wide range of analytical methodologies,” said Pearson.
PMF finalists have 12 months to secure an appointment as a fellow. The program helps participants build a network among program alumni and instills a spirit of public service, which can lead to a career in government.