I vividly remember the evening I found out I received the Ladd Fellowship. I received a call from a Durham number, and oddly enough I had this positive and hopeful feeling that this was **the call.** Jessica Pan was on the other line and after she congratulated me on my acceptance to Duke, she notified me that I was selected to receive the Ladd Fellowship! Despite having imagined this moment, it was very surreal. I definitely had to hold back tears while I spoke with her. Immediately after, I called one of my best friends who is a dual-degree student at Sanford and that is when it hit me.
I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Ladd and the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy for providing me with this opportunity. As a first-generation student from a low-income home, I was never sure what my pursuit of higher education would look like given the financial barriers I knew I’d be up against. I ultimately knew I would pursue higher education but I never knew how I would pay for school. The Ladd fellowship has relieved the financial burden associated with graduate studies and it gives me the freedom to fully commit myself to my studies and school community.
After graduation, I plan to work as a public sector consultant so I can help nonprofit education organizations improve their strategic planning and program evaluation capacities as they relate to educational equity and student achievement. In the long term, I hope to become the director of an organization that advocates for state-level education policies in support of students of color. – Maria Castrillon MPP’23 #HumansofDukeSanford #MPP #gradschool
Maria received the Helen F. Ladd Fellowship in Education Policy