Alivia Lindorfer, MPA

Portrait of Alivia LindorferContact Alivia


Maplewood, MN

Undergraduate education

Bachelor of arts in political science

Professional/research interests

Social and health policy-related issues

Expected graduation date

May 2025

Why the La Follette School?

I loved my undergraduate experience at UW–Madison and wanted to take up the challenge of pursuing further education here while maintaining my commitment as a student-athlete. La Follette came onto my radar very late, and I wish that I had been aware of this program and all its opportunities sooner!

Career goals

I am still exploring the numerous opportunities available within the realm of public affairs. While I may not have a distinct career plan right now, I hold a clear vision of my long-term career aspirations. Central to my career goals is the desire to effect positive change and empower individuals through the formulation and implementation of impactful public policies.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?

PA 800: Professional Development Workshop kept me on track toward applying for internships. Unfortunately, I do not have much professional experience due to my time as a student-athlete, so obtaining a summer internship has been a big goal of mine. PA 800 also helped to connect me with some alumni that I have stayed in contact with. This has been an invaluable opportunity for me as I am able to take advantage of mentoring opportunities and further connections in the field of public affairs.


PA 800 helped to introduce me to Sarah Barry (MPA ’01), the Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Our initial encounter took place during a “speed networking” event organized for the course. Subsequently, I reached out to her for an interview assignment, which led to a meaningful conversation. During our discussion, Sarah expressed her interest in maintaining a connection with me and offering mentorship. Her guidance has been invaluable, particularly in encouraging me to continue to apply to internships even when I have felt discouraged. I am grateful for the opportunity to have connected with Sarah.

Additionally, I have recently begun working with Lily Schultze (MPA ’19). She is a senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. We were connected through the mentorship program. While our connection is still in its early stages, I am equally appreciative of the chance to engage with Lily. She has been very helpful in addressing various concerns I’ve encountered in the classroom, such as overcoming my reluctance to participate in discussions and managing lengthy readings. Furthermore, Lily has also helped me navigate the internship process.

Most challenging La Follette School experience

Navigating imposter syndrome has been one of the most formidable challenges I’ve faced during my time at the La Follette School. This struggle is not unfamiliar to me; I vividly recall my freshman year’s Big Ten Championship meet, stepping onto the brightly lit pool deck with a sense of not belonging. Throughout my journey as a student-athlete, this feeling persisted, though I’ve recently begun to overcome it.

However, this internal battle has now extended into the classroom. As the sole student-athlete in the program, I often grappled with a sense of not fitting in. I have been well aware that my peers are likely dedicating more time to assignments as well as seizing more of La Follette’s opportunities than I am. This has left me with feelings of guilt and apprehension. I want to capitalize on every opportunity available and maximize my time here.

To combat these feelings, I’ve found support in building connections with my cohort. While I eagerly anticipate dedicating more time to building relationships once I retire from swimming (this summer), I recognize that forging these bonds has been pivotal in combating impostor syndrome. Additionally, open communication with my professors and La Follette faculty has been instrumental. During my first semester, I often feared that my professors and classmates maybe perceived me solely as an athlete lacking full investment or intellect for this program. However, I’ve done my best to remind myself that I am a valuable part of this program, and I was admitted for a reason! Friends and faculty have also helped to occasionally reassure me of this as well.

People would be surprised if they knew that…

I am also a student-athlete, utilizing my fifth year of eligibility granted to me due to my participation in the 2020/2021 season, as I embark on my first year in the MPA program. This journey has presented unique challenges, as I am the first individual in my circle to avail myself of a fifth year. Moreover, unlike my undergraduate experience, the intersection of student athletics and graduate school is relatively uncommon, leaving me to navigate this path largely on my own. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to embrace this challenge and am appreciative of the unwavering support I’ve received from the La Follette School, UW Athletics, and the University of Wisconsin.

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