By Matthew K. Medeiros, SBS Communications Manager
Photo credit: Anna Hartmannn Photography
When Emily Stetson ‘18 (Master’s in Public Policy) first started at the University of Massachusetts as a Chemistry major, she never would have imagined her future self would be speaking to an audience of 5,000 political activists, or meeting with significant leaders of the Democratic Party. But on June 3, 2017, she did just that—when she gave a speech and introduced US Senator Ed Markey at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, held at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Earlier this year Stetson ran for one of the seats in the town of Amherst’s delegation, winning the race, and securing a seat at this year’s statewide gathering of Democratic activists. Since she is also President of the state’s College Democrats, the party asked her to speak onstage during the convention.
“I was honored and ecstatic to have been invited,” she says. Before her speech, Stetson met with Senator Markey and discussed the College Democrats and how students can be politically active on issues affecting their communities. She credits her UMass education with initiating her interest in politics.
“My experiences on campus, from living in the Social Justice Residential Academic Program, to working with the University Democrats, to attending classes with inspiring professors, led me down this path in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences that I never could have conceived would have fit my interests and passions so perfectly,” explains Stetson.
That path led to changing her major from Chemistry to Political Science, and now, working on her MPP through the accelerated degree program.
“I discovered early in my undergraduate career that the best way to see the changes needed in my community made was to fight for them myself. Studying political science prepared me with the tools to do just that,” she says.
“With the Accelerated MPP program, I’m building upon my political toolkit to continue advocating for my communities after graduation. One year into the program, I’m already beginning to get a sense of navigating our state and nation’s political systems in classes like Introduction to Public Policy (PS 280), Federal Budgeting (PPA 697FB), as well as developing the skills to grasp the nuances of policy itself in classes like Legislative Drafting (PPA 697LD),” she says.
“When the time for the speech came, I introduced myself as a student of UMass and talked about my background, including my hometown of Brockton, being the daughter of an immigrant, and my role as President of the College Democrats of Massachusetts. In the speech, I impressed upon the audience that students, ‘are not just the future of our nation; my generation’s time to act is now,’” notes Stetson.
After introducing Senator Markey, she headed backstage and ran into US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who she took a picture with and greeted. Stetson feels her education has given her the skills that have led her to meeting such significant leaders, and put her on a path to grow from there.
“Wherever these skills take me following graduation, I have confidence that my UMass Amherst education has prepared me well for any path I choose,” Stetson adds.