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Department of Public Policy Leadership
University of Mississippi

Public Policy Leadership Student Ambassadors

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Grace Dragna

Grace Dragna

An economics and public policy leadership student interested in health care policy, Grace is a Stamps Scholar and attorney general of the Associated Student Body. She spent a month in Paris with the CIEE Global Institute cultural immersion program.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
The University of Mississippi felt like home! Every person I met on campus, from current students to faculty and staff, held a genuine interest in my success at this university. UM provided me with the best of both worlds as a large state university that contains smaller, close-knit communities such as the Honors College and Lott Leadership Institute.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I chose to major in public policy leadership after attending the Lott Leadership Institute’s summer program for rising 12th graders. I witnessed firsthand how much the professors in the PPL program cared about connecting with their students and helping them to explore their interests. Because of my interest in health care policy, I knew majoring in public policy leadership coupled with economics would provide me with essential analytical skills for my future career.

What are your career goals?
I hope to work in government relations for a nonprofit organization in the healthcare field.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
I am so thankful for the help of Dr. Melissa Bass in the PPL department over the past few years. After taking her Health Policy class, my interest in this field was solidified. She assisted me in the process of securing a public policy internship at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and she is advising my Honors thesis on maternal and infant health programs in Mississippi.

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community—either on or off-campus?
This past year, I served as a peer mentor for the Honors College. I worked with a group of four first-year Honors students throughout the year to answer questions they had about academics or college life. The first year of college is an exciting and challenging time, and I worked to assure my mentees that there is always someone looking out for them on campus. Serving as a resource and guide for these students made me feel more connected to the Honors College community and to the university as a whole.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
Read, take walks around Oxford with friends, and see live music.

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
I’m a big fan of the Bitter Southerner podcast, and I just finished watching Gilmore Girls.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?
Volta!

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
I want to travel to Norway to see the Northern Lights and to southeast Asia to learn more about the region’s history and culture.

 

Kennady Hertz

Kennedy Hertz

Kennady is a Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Scholar working towards a B.A. in public policy leadership with minors in Italian and Intelligence and Security Studies, a competitive program in which only 35 students are chosen annually. Kennady is a recipient of the Robert M. Carrier Scholarship and was recently awarded an Outstanding Student in 211-level Italian by the Department of Modern Languages. She serves as Associated Student Body Senator, as secretary on the Lot Student Advisory Board, and is a founding member of the Pi Beta Phi Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as the Green Committee. Kennady is also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Lambda Sigma Honors Societies.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose the University of Mississippi because it was, quite simply, the best fit. No other school had my major + minor combination, a beautiful campus and surrounding city, and such a good learning as well as social environment. Plus, that in-state tuition does NOT hurt.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
My major, public policy leadership, is a major that you have to get accepted into after you have already applied to UM. I chose PPL because I felt like it will provide a good foundation for any career I will want to pursue. Public speaking, professional writing, and a grasp on how politics work are instrumental skills that can be used anywhere, in any job. I chose to minor in Italian due to my ancestry and because I believe that learning a second language, no matter the language, helps improve other areas of life by providing a completely new way of life. A new vocabulary, a new place to visit, new food to explore, a new history to learn, and more. I chose to minor in intelligence and security studies because ISS teaches you to gather, analyze, and provide information objectively and I may pursue a career in the intelligence field.

What are your career goals?
To be determined, but I plan on a career that provides the opportunity to travel the world and keep learning new languages. I would love to become a foreign service officer with Department of State.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
My Italian professor, Elisa Modolo, has been a tremendous help in providing the foundation for an entire new language I had never attempted to learn before stepping foot in her class. She has always been there if I had questions or needed assistance. Even though learning a new language can be tough, she makes it enjoyable by playing songs, hosting cooking seminars, and more. She encouraged me to study abroad, which I will be doing the spring of 2022, which I could not be more excited for. Grazie, Professoressa Modolo!

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
During the peak of COVID-19, I joined the Oxford chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby—an organization devoted to getting laws passed that protect our planet and making every-day life more sustainable. While being in this organization I have had the opportunity to speak with students across the United States, host meetings with local and state officials, and feel like I have played a role in making the world a better place. Too often students, including me, get swept up in things that look good on their resume or what would help them get their dream job instead of focusing on what they enjoy. This organization provided me a break from focusing on myself and instead giving back to my community—and world.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I love going to the beach, reading, watching anime, and getting dressed up in my workout clothes before getting distracted and never actually working out (lol). I also love watching hockey games whether in person or on TV in the background.

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
I’ve been reading every book Huraki Murakami and Ottessa Moshfegh have ever written and I have been non-stop listening to Hayley Kiyoko, Faye Webster, and Phantogram—definitely my three favorite music artists of 2021.