Abu, Ascolese Winners of Commonwealth's Best Capstone

Zulekha Abu and Liana Ascolese took top prize at the 4th annual MassASPA Keogh Best Capstone and Award competition. The competition was held on May 4, 2017, at the Public Service Institute of Suffolk University.

The duo's capstone, "If You Want Something Done, Ask a Woman: How Women College Administrators Implement Effective Title IX Policies to Prevent Sexual Assault," draws on original data collected from 118 private U.S. liberal arts colleges.

Their findings suggest that female representation among trustees, deans and Title IX coordinators strengthens the implementation of restorative justice policies for women students, but not preventative measures on campuses.

The MassASPA Keogh competition annually brings together students and faculty members from Master's of Public Administration (MPA) and Master's of Public Policy (MPP) programs in Massachusetts to meet, network and encourage students in their capstone efforts by recognizing the state's "best capstone."

Students from programs at Brandeis, Bridgewater, Clark, Harvard, Northeastern, Suffolk, UMass Amherst and UMass Boston regularly participate in the competition each year.

Abu will graduate on May 12th with dual master's degrees from the School of Public Policy and the College of Education. She is originally from Maryland, where she worked and interned on various political campaigns before moving to Massachusetts for graduate work. 

Ascolese will receive her MPP at this year's commencement. She was a political science major as an undergraduate at UMass Amherst and a participant in the UMass Women into Leadership (UWiL) program, chaired the College Democrats of Massachusetts Women's Caucus, and interned for MA State Representative Steve Howitt. 

Abu and Ascolese were guided in their capstone work this year by SPP faculty members Obed Pasha and Brenda Bushouse, and by Department of Political Science faculty member Meredith Rolfe.

Abu and Ascolese will also present their research at the School of Public Policy's annual capstone conference, held this year on Tuesday, May 9, from 9 a.m.-3:45 p.m. in 805-09 Lincoln Campus Center. The full conference schedule is available here.