Julia Cerenzia

I am a mid-career professional with more than 12 years of experience in federal and state government. I left my federal career in 2005 to pursue my PhD in Public Policy and I look forward to returning to my career soon, using my new skills to improve policy formation and implementation.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I worked for the State of Montana. I was truly inspired by that work and it set my feet firmly on a public sector path. Following my Master’s Degree, I joined the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Presidential Management Intern (now called Fellows). I loved every minute of my career as a federal employee. Yet, like most civil servants I was often frustrated by the ineffectiveness of some policies and programs. A recurring question—“ How did we get such a messed up policy/program?” – led me to my doctoral studies. The new skills I have honed through this degree have exceeded my expectations. I have greatly improved my critical thinking and my ability to analyze policies, the programs through which they are implemented, and the processes from which they spring. At the same time, my long career as a civil servant gives me an appreciation of the realities and everyday obstacles that can impede or pervert implementation despite the best efforts of many talented and dedicated people.

As I complete my dissertation, I look forward to returning to work in the public sector. I have already begun my job search out of financial necessity. Having left the Washington, DC, area for family reasons, I am pursuing work primarily with the State of Montana. I intend to work in healthcare or other social policy areas. In this largely rural and poor state, these policy areas offer the opportunity to make a very real difference. My goal is to combine my long-term experience as a civil servant and my newly strengthened research skills to develop and implement policies that are effective and cost-effective, ensuring that the State Government can serve its citizenry well on a very limited budget.

The interruption of my career to obtain a PhD has been costly in time and effort, and has significantly depleted my resources and those of my family. I am not a typical student – I came to my degree with four small children, a mortgage, and an understanding husband who went from being a secondary-earner to a sole-earner. Unfortunately, the pay scale of state government jobs is much lower than that of the federal government and recouping the cost of the degree will be difficult. I would be very grateful for the monetary support from this scholarship. I would also be sincerely honored to be selected by GovLoop and CampusGov because I have been and always will be a dedicated member of the community of civil servants.

Thank you for your consideration for this award.