PPLC 2008 Participant Interview

This is a reminder that the application deadline for our PPLC program is Friday, November 16th.  The program is available to students in their freshman or sophomore year of college.  Full program details, along with additional interviews, can be found by clicking here. Christina Fletes, a current MPP student, participated in 2008 and graciously agreed to provide us with some information about herself and her PPLC experience. 

imageName:  Christina Fletes

Harvard PPLC Year: 2008

Undergraduate School:  University of California, Berkeley

Current Status: Masters in Public Policy Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Current City: Cambridge, MA

Personal History

I have always been in the border—in the state of being in between. Growing up in a low-income, immigrant, mixed-status household has definitely shaped who I am and what my passions are. Despite some of things I had to overcome growing up, my parents worked many hours so that my sister and I would not have to work and instead be able to focus on school. Because of this I was fortunate enough to be part of the first generation of my family to go and graduate from a 4-year university.

In my life I have faced many adversities as a woman of color, but I have also had many opportunities others like me have not. Being one of the only people in my household who could speak English it was my responsibility to interpret, translate and advocate for my parents since a very young age. Being the only person that looked like me in advanced placement classes in high school was not because I was the only one from my community who was “trying hard enough,” but it was because I was one of the few who was awarded those opportunities.

I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where I studied Political Economy and Ethnic Studies. I completed my honors thesis on the organizing methods of domestic workers (nannies, caregivers, housecleaners). Upon graduation, I managed the first ever national domestic workers research project to document their working conditions. I am now at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and am a concurrent law student at Berkeley Law. I hope to continue working with workers who are excluded from labor laws, immigrants, and low-income communities.

Question and Answer

What sparked your interest in PPLC?

I didn’t know much about what public policy really was but here are things I did know: I knew that immigration, housing, education, criminal policies etc., were (and are) negatively affecting many low-income, people of color, and/or immigrant communities. I knew that this was not right and I knew that I had to do something. When I saw an email about PPLC I knew I had to apply to learn more about what I could do to address the issues facing my community.

What did you enjoy most during your time at PPLC?

PPLC was a great experience for me because I never thought I would ever even visit Harvard. At first it was intimidating to even be here. I remember thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I’m sitting in a Harvard classroom.”  It was also an amazing opportunity to be able to meet the other people in my cohort who had similar backgrounds as me and similar interests. To this day, I still keep in touch with some of the participants (5 years later!).

How has PPLC helped you with your professional and academic aspirations?

I participated in the 2008 PPLC and I am now getting my Masters in Public Policy—that is definitely not a coincidence. It was at PPLC that I was first exposed many public policy programs, fellowships, and career options. Attending PPLC helped me better understand how to serve the population I wish to work with.

What advice would you give to prospective PPLC participants?

If you want to apply but are feeling unsure about if this is for you or if you will even be accepted to this conference—-apply!!! Take advantage of this amazing opportunity. When you are working on your application think about how your background and experiences have shaped your passions and be sure to write about it. It’s like a 3 part idea: Where are you now (what do you care about)? What experiences led you there (why do you care about these things)? Where do you see yourself in the future (what do you want to do about the things you care about)?  Then think about why this conference is going to help with your future aspirations.

Sometimes talking to a friend or a mentor about these points helps can be very helpful. The 3 day conference will go by fast so get to know the other participants and definitely stay in touch. Everyone says it, but it’s very true—your undergraduate experience will go by super fast. All the sudden senior year comes and you need to figure out what to do next. Take advantage of this conference and the students by asking a lot of questions.
Ask current MPP students what their experiences have been like, why they decided to get this degree and what do they plan to do in the future. Ask them why they chose this degree over other degrees.

Tags: PPLC