Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Since I was young, I’ve had an insatiable urge to help those around me. I spent most of my high school years volunteering and my summers going on trips with my church youth group to work on projects like reconstruction in the post-Katrina gulf coast. This desire to make the world a better place didn’t end after high school either and still serves as a constant motivation today.

I realized early on in college that I could have the largest impact through fixing the flaws I witnessed in our policy system. This ultimately resulted in my time serving fellow students in the University of North Florida Student Government. While in SG, I worked diligently to assist state-level lobbying efforts that would grant veterans and children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition. From that point forward, I was hooked on policy work and the gratification that comes after seeing tangible results from your efforts to help those in need.

I’ll continue chasing that feeling after I finish graduate school. This is why I’m pursuing a public policy degree, so I can use my expertise to make the world a more equitable place and restore confidence in our government systems. People are justifiably disillusioned with their elected leaders, but that will change by reminding them what we can collectively accomplish when we work together caring for our neighbors.

The years following graduation from American University will be filled with work at think tanks, government entities and other non-governmental organizations using their resources to address inequality or finding common-sense, bipartisan solutions to problems that Americans genuinely care about. It’s the only way I’ll feel fulfilled in my professional work. I’m not seeking a position that will gain me unfathomable wealth or fame, I just want to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. Whether that is through economics, education or other broad policy changes, I can’t think of a better way to utilize my passion and talents.

Ryan from District of Columbia
American University