Erin Lowder, MPP/JD ’21, learned she had received the Richard A. Stubbing Memorial Fellowship in an email from Ken Rogerson, the Director of Graduate Studies of the MPP program. This endowment was established in 2005 by Anna Reilly MPP ’90 and Matt Cullinan MPP ’90 in memory of Professor Richard Stubbing of the Sanford School. This gift provides whole or partial fellowships to select MPP students.
Stubbing, a national security expert and professor of the practice emeritus, passed away in 2004 from cancer at the age of 74. Stubbing was known for his ability to bring public budgeting to life in the classroom, sharing stories and examples drawn from his 20 years of experience working for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, as well as his passion for mentorship and career assistance.
“After reading the email, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I have had to overcome a lot of obstacles and make a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am at, so it was wonderful to be rewarded for all my hard work,” Lowder said. “For one thing, the fellowship has made me feel proud and reassured that I am pursuing the right career path. I also feel like hard work truly does not go unnoticed. As a result, I feel compelled to continue putting my best foot forward in my studies, my internship, and my life as a whole.”
Lowder graduated from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminology. After college, she spent a year working in the housing industry as a staff member at a nonprofit organization in Raleigh. Now, in addition to being a student, she is an intern at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working in the Air Quality Policy Division of the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. She also served as the Editor-in-Chief of the NCCU Environmental Law Review during the 2019-2020 academic year. Her experience in the not-for-profit sector and her legal education cooperatively sparked her interest in policy development, particularly in the social and environmental contexts.
“As a law student, I learned that the legal system is often a reactive solution to injustices. Public policy, on the other hand, offers much more proactive solutions to injustices that often drive sweeping change. Thus, in my opinion, public policy is paramount to promoting a safe, healthy and equitable environment for all,” she said.
She said the fellowship from Sanford has made a difference to her.
“Every bit of financial assistance helps reduce the burden of student debt,” Lowder said. “I would like to thank the donors for supporting and believing in me and other students like me. Graduate/professional school is hard. Receiving the fellowship has motivated me to keep moving forward, to keep putting in the necessary work for a successful academic career, and to keep believing in myself.”
Abe Kenmore MPP ’21 also received the Richard A. Stubbing Memorial Fellowship. A 2017 graduate of Guilford College in North Carolina, he majored in political science and English, with a minor in peace and conflict studies.
After graduation, Kenmore took a job as a reporter at the Watertown Daily Times, a small daily newspaper in northern New York near his hometown. He covered higher education and then moved to the political beat, covering local elected representatives at the state and federal level along with general assignment reporting. Kenmore was looking into graduate school already, and a friend introduced him to the MPP program at Sanford. When he joined the MPP program, he received an email from Rogerson notifying him that he had received the fellowship.
“I had been a TA for Professor Rogerson, and I was really honored to get the email,” Kenmore said. “The fellowship in honor of Professor Stubbing speaks to the quality of the MPP program. I really appreciate the donors who are making policy training accessible and helping the next generation of MPP students to get the training they need without taking on debt.”
As a journalist, he loved learning about policy issues, but he said he struggled with the quantitative skills he needed to report the information before the MPP program.
“When I was in the newsroom, I got a spreadsheet and was so bad at Excel, I had to do the calculations manually. Today in the MPP program, I can now program an equity score using a variety of metrics, and add the information into a map of Durham. I couldn’t have conceived of doing this a year ago,” Kenmore said.
Now, he is hoping to use those skills and return to journalism – specifically in-depth policy reporting.
“You can’t make good decisions without good information. The skills I have learned in the MPP program – like statistics, policy analysis and data visualization training – will help me to find good information and communicate it clearly,” Kenmore said.
Kenmore said not only has he learned a lot of practical skills as an MPP candidate, but also learned from the people in the program.
“The professors are wonderful people – people who have used these skills in real life and come back to teach people and very interested in teaching. And my cohort was absolutely wonderful – from all backgrounds. All of us have an interest in making the world a better place,” he said.