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Samantha Sloate MPP ’22 said she was surprised and honored to hear of her fellowship when she was admitted to Sanford.

“One of the first things I did after learning that I was selected for this fellowship was to learn everything I could about Professor Joel Fleishman and the Koskinens (John and Patricia Koskinen). I attended a talk Professor Fleishman gave a few weeks after I learned about the fellowship, and I understood why an endowment fund was created in his honor. He was a pleasure to listen to!” Sloate said. “I also enjoyed learning about the Koskinens—as an econ student, being even tangentially connected to a former IRS Commissioner is exciting. Funny enough, I even studied in the Koskinen Room at Sanford before I had heard about the fellowship. Needless to say, I’ve continued to study there.”

The Joel L. Fleishman Endowment Fund was established in 1983 by a group of supporters to honor Joel L. Fleishman, the founding director of the Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, now the Sanford School of Public Policy. The fund provides fellowship support for graduate students at Sanford. The fellowship is a prestigious honor recognizing academic achievement and potential to excel in the awardee’s future career.

“My main feeling after I learned more about the endowment honoree (Professor Fleishman) and the donors (chiefly, the Koskinens) was connection. I was grateful to be part of a place where professors were beloved and where alumni enjoyed the school enough to give back. It imbued a sense of campus community in me, which is sometimes difficult to find in the time of COVID-19,” she said.

Sloate grew up in Central Massachusetts and studied economics at Bowdoin College in Maine. Before coming to Sanford, she lived outside of Washington, D.C. and worked for a federal consulting firm on projects related to workforce development and poverty alleviation programs. Her interest in public economics, the social safety net and program evaluation led her down the path of an MPP. Sloate is planning to pursue a concentration in social policy. She would like to work for a federal or state agency in research and evaluation for public social programs and she is interested in the intersection of data science and governmental or social institutions.

“Public policy is a concrete way to blend research and action. At its core, public policy is about improving people’s well-being through new and existing institutions. It’s about helping those institutions function better, to help people live better,” she said.

She said the fellowship gives her a sense of pride and confidence in her work.

As graduate students, we all question why we are in school at some point or another, so knowing that a fellowship committee believes in my past and future academic work is inspiring in those times,” she said.

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Kelly Jasiura MPP ’22 was also pleasantly surprised to learn about the support from a fellowship when she was accepted into the program.

“I remember being super excited though that I had been given such a generous scholarship to such a high-quality school,” she said. ​“I sent the donors [Mr. John A. Koskinen and Mrs. Patricia Koskinen] a thank you letter, to show my gratitude for making my graduate education affordable. I don't know if I would have ended up at Duke and been able to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities here if it weren't for this support.”

She said the fellowship has lessened her stress and allowed her to focus on her studies.

​“I can intentionally focus my coursework, internships and research pursuits on what I'm interested in.  The support has been a relief during this stressful time.”

Jasiura is focusing her MPP on education and social policy. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2017 with a degree in media and journalism and a second major in public policy. After graduation, she worked for a year in New York City for a communications and advocacy firm focused on global health and development. She later spent two years in Washington, D.C., working as a policy consultant for philanthropic organizations and nonprofits, working on issues including technology justice, economic mobility, and voting rights. After her MPP is complete, she hopes to work in education policy.

“Public policy matters to me because it allows us to apply an objective, scientific framework to solve challenges that can have a huge impact on people’s lives,” she said.