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Judith Kelley in cap and gown clapping towards students
Sanford's Dean Judith Kelley congratulates graduates. This is Kelley's first year as dean of the Sanford School.

The Sanford School’s graduation ceremonies on May 12 marked a number of milestones: it was the first presided over by Dean Judith Kelley, it celebrated the largest ever class of the Master of Public Policy program, the first class of the International Master of Environmental Policy and the largest PhD cohort to date. The class of 2019 includes:

  • 186 public policy undergraduates
  • 77 Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • 43 Master of International Development Policy (MIDP)
  • 10 International Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP)
  • 12 PhD graduates

Kelley told the graduates, “A lot of responsibility comes with your education. You can no longer hide behind the veil of ignorance.” She said they have a responsibility to put their new knowledge to work, whether in public service or the private sector.

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Professor of the Practice Tom Taylor with (left) Joseph-Emory Kouaho MPP '19 and Jayson Dawkins MPP '19

Graduate Ceremony

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Twelve years ago, Sarhang Hamasaeed MIDP’07 was the student speaker at his own graduation. Born in Kurdistan, Hamasaeed was displaced by violent conflict twice while growing up. He came to Sanford as a Fulbright Scholar to study international development and returned as the Distinguished Alumnus Speaker.

At his own graduation, he had spoken on the themes of change and political will, themes that are still present in his work today with Iraq, Syria and Yemen, in his role as the director of Middle East programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).

“I saw that you could win a prime minister’s support, with hard and methodical work, by making it easy for him to say yes or no to a policy. I also saw how great ideas and strong political will by a powerful leader could be crushed by bureaucracy and corruption,” he said.

Hamasaeed also told of a woman he met in Virginia in 2015, after he gave a talk about the rising tensions in Iraq. She told him she saw parallels in the rising tensions here in the U.S. At the time he didn’t think it was likely, but has come to see she was right.

He remains hopeful, he said, adding, “There are infinite ways to make a difference.”  Read more about him >>

At a separate event on Friday, the MPP program honored several students. Sarah Vanderbilt was named the MPP Outstanding Student.  Shelby Gullion, Kelsey Gold and Jessica Wilkinson received Citizenship Awards. Kate Lohmeyer, Agustin Gonzalez and Justin O’Neil received Service Awards.

Man smiling, holding award with Dean Kelley
Marcos Rangel, assistant professor of public policy, received the 2019 Richard Stubbing Teacher/Mentor award for his work with graduate students. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the graduate programs of the school and deep commitment to the personal and professional development of graduate students.  The committee included both faculty and students, and they considered the contributions over the last three years.
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PhDs Awarded

Eight of 12 PhD graduates were hooded during the ceremony. Jaron Wharton was hooded by both his mentor, Bruce Jentleson, and his sister, Tracy Wharton, a professor at the University of Central Florida.

woman cheering while others add a sash to her graduation gown

Maria Carnovale. Her dissertation was “Essay on Global Value Chains, Policies and Inequality.” (Advisor: Alex Pfaff.)

Yating Li wrote “Three Essays in Energy and Environmental Economics.” (Advisor: Billy Pizer.)

Emily Pechar. Her dissertation is “Depolarizing Environmental Policy: Identities and Public Opinion on the Environment.” (Advisor: Frederick Mayer.)

Josh Rivenbark wrote “How Social Status Permeates Inequalities in Health: Three Studies on Experiences of Social Disadvantage” (Advisors: Candice Odgers and Kathryn Whetten.)

Faraz Usmani. His dissertation was “Three Essays on Energy and Development Economics.” (Advisors: Subhrendu Pattanayak and Marc Jeuland.)

Jaron Wharton wrote “Three Essays on Decisions to Use Military Force.” (Advisor: Bruce Jentleson.)

Emma Zang wrote “Three Essays in Population Studies.” (Advisors: Seth Sanders and Christina Gibson-Davis.)

September 2018 Graduates

  • Michael Burrows. His dissertation was “Essays on Population, Environment and Development.” (Advisors: Marcos Rangel and Elizabeth Frankenberg.)
  • Sierra Smucker wrote “Three Essays on the Politics and Implementation of Domestic Violence and Firearms in the United States.” (Advisor: Kristin Goss.)

December 2018 Graduates

  • Rebecca Lehrman wrote “Methodological and Theoretical Advancements in the Study of Household Decision Making and Gender.” (Advisor: Elizabeth Ananat.)
  • Adebola Olayinka wrote “Constrained Coordination: How Strategic Interests and Bureaucracy Shape Donor Coordination.” (Advisors: Frederick Mayer and Kathryn Whetten.)

Undergraduate Ceremony

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Vanessa Agudelo was the student speaker at the afternoon ceremony. Agudelo, a Baldwin Scholar, minored in education, earned a certificate in child policy research and interned at the U.S. Department of Education.

“I grew up thinking the United States was perfect. Why else would my parents move here from Columbia?” Agudelo said.

Her Sanford classes showed her a different view of the U.S., as a flawed nation but still one of opportunity that allowed her “to stand here today as a first generation, low-income student.”



Woman surrounded by large family
Shandiin Herrera received the Terry Sanford Leadership Award for her work to create an inclusive community for Native students at Duke and her advocacy for Navajo men and women. To provide future native Duke students with support, Herrera helped found the first Native American sorority at Duke, Alpha Pi Omega, and served as treasurer and powwow chair for the Native Student Alliance.  Learn more about her accomplishments >>


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Madison Mastrangelo received the award for Best Honors Thesis for “A Policy Analysis of No-Hit Zones: What Are the Barriers to No-Hit Zone Implementation?” Read her story >>


Man, sitting with graduation robes, Duke chapel in distance

For academic excellence, the Joel Fleishman Distinguished Scholar Award went to Kushal Kadakia, who majored in biology and public policy, and earned a perfect 4.0. Next year, he will attend Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. 


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Prof. Deondra Rose

This year’s Susan E. Tifft Teaching and Mentoring Award was presented to Deondra Rose, assistant professor of public policy and political science. The award, named for the late Susan Tifft, the Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Communications and Journalism, recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching.

To give her students experience in addressing real-world problems, Rose had them partner with members of the North Carolina General Assembly, the Governor’s and the Durham Mayor’s office to address policy issues this spring.  


Young man in cap and gown, with two other older people in caps and gowns look on
Kushal Kadaki (center) with Prof. Joel Fleishman (right). Kadakia won the Joel Fleishman Distinguished Scholar Award. To the left is John Forlines, an executive in residence in the Dept. of Economics