With an interest in public service, SUNY Oswego junior political science and history major Connor Breese is set to participate in the prestigious Junior Summer Institute program at Princeton University through the Public Policy and International Affairs Program.

The intensive seven-week summer program focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service.

PPIA’s mission is to promote the participation of underrepresented groups in public service and to help advance their leadership roles. Even if an applicant is not part of an underrepresented group, they are encouraged to demonstrate their involvement with diverse communities or how their experiences enable them to contribute to the program’s goal.

Breese said he is looking forward to being surrounded by a diverse group of fellow students who have also been accepted into the program.

“While I have had the amazing opportunity to attend an institution with a great deal of diversity, I hope attending this program will help further open my eyes to what exists out there,” the Canandaigua resident said.

The summer fellows accepted into the program take courses to prepare them to enter a top-notch public policy program. They get access to a network of people, a fee waiver for graduate school applications and a guarantee of a $5,000 scholarship for programs to obtain a master’s degree in public policy or international affairs.

'A great fit'

Dr. Allison Rank, an assistant professor of political science at SUNY Oswego, serves as the undergraduate student fellowships advisor; she told Breese he should apply for the PPIA opportunity.

“Academically, Connor is a great fit for this program,” said Rank. “He has a clear interest in public service. In his coursework, I have found Connor to be a student who thinks both critically and analytically about politics -- a necessity for students interested in creating public policy.”

Breese is a founding member of SUNY Oswego’s College Democrats and for two years has served as a member of the Student Association as a senator and then as a director on the SA president’s cabinet. His participation in these activities can lead one to believe that serving the public is in his near future.

“With my interest in service, and acting as representative for the many people needing a larger voice, I believe that I will in time go on to make a career out of public policy,” he said. 

The program receives 500 applications each year, which Breese said makes him feel lucky to soon be part of it.

“Acceptance into the program is a very high honor for me,” he said. “That I was considered worthy of acceptance proves to me that my hard work has not only gone recognized, but that I must consider myself incredibly lucky to have been given an opportunity to get myself out there, and to take another large step towards my post-undergrad career.”

Breese said he hopes that by learning more about statistics and economics on top of his political science knowledge, he can better analyze issues facing the United States. Being surrounded by other like-minded students who want to solve issues such as inequality, poor access to education, nutrition and a safe environment to grow up in is the epicenter of the program.

“When the very environment young Americans are being brought up in has been created by circumstances out of their control, it becomes a matter of great importance to help them by any means possible,” Breese said.

Rank said Breese would gain a lot from the summer program to help him get closer to that career. “In terms of specific skills, the curriculum includes courses on statistics, qualitative and quantitative research methods, public policy analysis, public policy writing and more,” she said.

Breese credits his parents for encouraging him to study history, which helped spark an interest in political science.

SUNY Oswego recently earned final state approval to start offering a public policy-oriented major in philosophy, politics and economics this fall. To find out more about this and other opportunities in political science, visit https://www.oswego.edu/political-science/ or call 315-312-2350.