Two from CSSW Are Finalists for Presidential Management Fellowships

January 27, 2021 @ 8:06 pm

Two students have been selected as finalists for a program that offers a foothold for a career in government.

Two members of the Class of 2021 have been selected as finalists for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) Program, which places students and recent graduates in salaried positions with government agencies. The PMF Program was established in 1977 by an executive order from President Jimmy Carter to develop a new cadre of leaders and offer sustenance to promising graduates in the first years of their career.

Caitlin Kay and Westin Wallace are two of ten MSW students among the 551 finalists chosen from a field of nearly 7,000 applicants. Their selection underscores the value of social workers in key government positions, as well as our School’s success in preparing and motivating its students to pursue leadership roles in government and policy making. Columbia University at large boasts 35 finalists who will enter the program.

“Now more than ever, social workers and social work thinking are needed in every area of government as we form policies that impact our future well-being,” said Dean Melissa Begg. “The School is proud to produce leaders who can use their policy training and social justice lens to innovate within large federal agencies. I congratulate both of these terrific students and wish them all the best as they move to the next stage of this remarkable opportunity.”

The finalists now have one year to secure an appointment with a participating agency in order to move from finalist status to fellow.

We asked the two successful candidates from our School to tell us about what made them apply for a PMF and what agencies they hope to work for.

Caitlin Kay

Caitlin Kay

Primary focus: Advanced Clinical Practice; Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities, with a minor in Public Policy and Administration
Current practicum placement: Center for Complicated Grief
What made you pursue this fellowship?
I grew up in different parts of the world, including countries in Asia, Oceania, and Europe. As growing up abroad gave me a global perspective of past and current social events, I was inspired to do work that is not only meaningful to me but will also have a positive impact on all people in the U.S. and our global community. I am convinced that the PMF Program is a great opportunity to learn about different agencies through the built-in rotations and be part of the cohort of professionals who want to make a positive difference.
What do you hope to do in DC?
Before returning to my alma mater to study social work, I worked and volunteered at health clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals in the U.S. and countries in Latin America. My previous and current experiences have continued to form my views of healthcare, social work, and the ways in which they intersect. I hope to work for an agency that is doing important work in public health and global health, where I can integrate the core values of the social work profession.

Westin Wallace

Westin Wallace

Primary focus: Social Enterprise Administration; World of Work
Current practicum placement: Human resources and compliance departments of Urban Pathways
What made you pursue this fellowship?
I am from Washington, DC, and several of my family members have worked for the federal government over the last few decades. What I like about the federal government is the breadth of the work that one has the opportunity to engage in, due to the vast number of agencies and sub-agencies. The PMF Program appealed to me because fellows have a primary appointment at an agency, but, during the program, they can work on temporary projects housed in other agencies. This provides one with the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in many areas.
What do you hope to do in DC?
My academic background and interests are fairly broad. The agencies I am most interested in working for include Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and Personnel Management; but I am keeping an open mind.

Related links:

Two from CSSW Tapped for Presidential Fellowships

Emily Jabbour