BA public policy leadership ’15
doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University
Growing up in a politically active family may have sparked her interest in public service, but Christine Dickason (BA public policy leadership ’15) found her life’s calling when she volunteered in high school as an ACT tutor in Memphis public schools.
“I attended school only 30 minutes away but saw drastic differences in educational quality and access. It made me question the wide educational gaps.”
While at UM, Dickason was a founding member of the UM Food Bank; leader with the Associated Student Body, Ole Miss College Democrats, and Mississippi First; and a Truman Scholar finalist. Her focus on education continued through coursework, presenting ideas at a national conference, and an honors thesis that included a documentary film on college preparation and student aspirations in Mississippi public high schools.
After graduation, Dickason was First Lady Michelle Obama’s Deputy Director of Correspondence.
“The once-in-a-lifetime experience taught me so much—from how the highest levels of the federal government operate to how to plan a trip to Yosemite National Park for the First Family,” she said. “Most importantly, it taught me to be flexible with my plans and stay open to incredible opportunities.”
While earning an MA in public policy at George Washington University, she worked at the Government Accountability Office, the Center for American Progress, and the Global Development Incubator. She is pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University.
“I’m still exploring career options. I want to research education policy and reach a broader audience to inspire not only public discourse but public action—something PPL professors inspired me to pursue.”
In her reflection on the PPL program, Dickason said that is is an incredible program that is offered at a graduate level at many schools.
“It allows students to build enduring relationships with excellent professors. Through the program, I interned in DC (twice!), visited local farms to learn about food policy, and took a creative approach to my honors thesis. PPL provides a solid foundation to build a variety of careers, whether it be participating in Mississippi Teacher Corps, working for a senator, or making your way to the White House!”