Nova Tebbe, MPA, MPH, Energy Analysis and Policy Certificate

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Highlands Ranch, CO

Undergraduate Education

Bachelor’s degree in microbiology and philosophy, bioethics minor, University of Idaho, 2019

Professional/research interests

Climate change, health, equity, policy, public health, community-based research

Graduation date

May 2022

Why an MPA?

With a background in microbiology and philosophy, I first knew that I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in public health (MPH). I went on a summer study abroad program in London and Amsterdam to learn more about public health and global health. In this program, I was immediately engaged and interested in the implications of health policy and community interventions. Specifically, the role of global policies and interventions in trying to improve health worldwide. This experience led me to pursue not only an MPH but also a dual master’s degree in public affairs so I could understand and influence policy with a health and equity lens.

Why the La Follette School?

I was initially drawn to the La Follette School because it gave me the ability to do a dual degree in MPH and MPA. The school is unique in its support of and structure for MPA/MPH students and was one of my top choices of programs to attend.

Further, I knew the class sizes were small, and I could connect with my cohort. I went to a small school for my undergraduate studies, and I wanted to keep this tight-knit community while also having the resources of a large and world-renowned research university. My time at the La Follette School has allowed me to have both.

Career goals

I hope to work as a policy researcher and analyst, either designing innovative policy approaches to big problems or showing how policies are unhealthy and inequitable.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?

The La Follette School’s Introduction to Policy Analysis course (PA 873) is a great class to learn more about how to take a policy question, research the context and policy alternatives, and analytically conclude on what policy is best for addressing that question. I drew upon what I learned in this course during several of my research projects. Introduction to Public Management (PA 878) also was essential, especially for my internship where I had to write memos. In addition, the closeness of my cohort has helped me connect with students who have similar interests and career goals.

Project assistantship

For the first two years of my dual degree, I was a project assistant for the College of Letters & Science. This was mainly an administrative job, where I helped run the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship for L&S. I helped with planning events, creating appointment letters, and answering questions from departments.

This year, I began a new project assistantship with Professor Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute, where I research climate change policies that are rooted in climate and equity. This position came out of work I already was doing with him for two years, and I wanted to continue doing for a larger percentage of my time.

Summer internship

I worked at Public Citizen as a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) research intern in the Energy and Climate Program. In this role, I researched FERC filings and wrote policy memos on whether Public Citizen should make a public comment on the filings and what that comment should be. I also helped research the lobbying efforts from large energy companies.

For one project, I was presented with a FERC filing about a company using a potential natural gas loophole to produce and export natural gas. While my supervisor gave me a previous public comment, he wanted me to look at the company’s response and determine whether further public comment was needed. I researched the proposed project and the company’s affiliations, and I wrote my recommendation given all the information. I drew upon the public management course I took at the La Follette School and the best practices I learned for memo writing.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students

Get to know your cohort! There are students with similar interests and career goals, and it is essential to connect with them for not only study groups but also for future career endeavors. I have made some great friends here that I hope to stay close with as we all head toward our careers.

Also, the La Follette School gives you the ability to choose from a wide range of electives throughout UW–Madison. Take advantage of that! Don’t just take classes directly related to policy because you may miss some important context. I took classes in the Law School, Department of Gender & Woman’s Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, to name a few. Take advantage of UW–Madison and the ability to take electives no matter the department.