Doors Open for Mason Students Named Presidential Management Fellows

Posted: May 9, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Kriner, Stephanie Hay, and Gazette staff

Five students from the School of Public Policy (SPP) and two students each from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) and the School of Law were named finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, one of the federal government’s most prestigious academic honors. Several students have already earned coveted federal jobs as a result.

Bestowed only to the most promising graduate students in the country, honors went to George Mason students David Christopher, Miguel Green, Athena Krell, Emily Morales, and Victoria Paulette Morgan from SPP; Jessica Marfurt and Kristi J. Robinson from CAS; Juliette Shedd and Karen Wiebelhaus from ICAR; and Gerald Brito and Sapna Sharma from the School of Law. They were chosen from a pool that included thousands of applicants.

Christopher and Green earned an MA in International Commerce and Policy; Krell expects to graduate next year with an MPP in Education Policy; Morales will graduate this spring with an MA in International Commerce and Policy; and Morgan will graduate this month with an MPP. Shedd is on track to graduate in August 2005 with a MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and Wiebelhaus will graduate this month with a MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (Wiebelhaus had to decline the fellowship offer since she had previously accepted a position at the U.S. Department of State as a junior officer in the U.S. Foreign Service). Robinson will receive her MA in Environmental Science and Policy this month, and Marfurt is in the Master of Public Administration program in Public and International Affairs. Brito and Sharma, who were editors of the Federal Circuit Law Journal at the School of Law, will both graduate this month.

On the PMF web site, a quote from President George W. Bush best describes the magnitude of the PMF honor: “The purpose of the program is to attract to the federal service outstanding men and women from a variety of academic disciplines and career paths who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs.”

To join the select group of finalists, students had to undergo an intense and competitive application process that included interviews, presentations, and essay writing.

As finalists, they were able to schedule interviews for specialized governmental PMF positions at a career fair in the Washington, D.C., Convention Center in early April.

The federal jobs were specifically earmarked for the PMF fellows, and some allow the fellows to rotate to different positions during the two-year program. In addition to their federally-appointed jobs, the fellows participate in training and other activities that prepare them for leadership positions within the federal government.

“It was a crazy and exhausting two days,” Marfurt says of the career fair. “I participated in more than 14 interviews, including ones with the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, and the Office of Management and Budget. I think those two days are what being on The Apprentice might feel like.”

Marfurt and the other finalists began the process of applying in September 2004. Semifinalists were notified in late November and scheduled in groups of 10 for an all-day assessment in January. Members of the Office of Personnel Management assessed the candidates at the event.

“Because I recognized what great opportunities this fellowship program provided, both for my professional development and for the opportunity to, perhaps, make a contribution to my field, I put a great deal of effort into the application and assessment process,” Robinson says. “Therefore, I was quite pleased when I did get selected as a finalist. I was also a little bit overwhelmed and humbled by the doors that almost immediately opened.”

Robinson has already accepted a position with the Forest Service in the Cooperative Forestry Office starting in July. She plans to begin working toward a PhD as well. Marfurt accepted a position at the Government Accountability Office as an analyst in its Natural Resources and Environment Team. Shedd, who wrote her thesis on how female terrorists are represented in the media, reports she has a conditional PMF appointment with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division as an intelligence analyst.

Write to at