This year’s Robertson Fellows are Nicole Franiok, Holly Gregory, Justin Horoiwa and Kevin Laiveling. In partnership with the Robertson Foundation for Government, these students have been selected to receive the Robertson Fellowship that includes full tuition, a cost-of-living stipend and summer internship assistance.
Franiok comes to the School of Public Policy with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arcadia University. Her senior thesis research examined the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act and developed her interest in the intersection of finance and national security.
"Studying the intersection of international security and economics aligns perfectly with my undergraduate research in anti-money laundering to counter terrorist finance," she says. "UMD seemed like the best place to build my knowledge of public policy related to national security."
"I think the study of public policy is important to inform the next generation of leaders to craft solutions to our countries most pressing problems," Franiok adds. "A degree in public policy can turn a passion for doing good into a skillset built to create positive change"
At SPP, Franiok will be focusing on international security and economic policy.
My aim is to work in the foreign policy field, and UMD is one of the best schools in the world for this discipline. The university’s close proximity to Washington, D.C. also means that there are so many opportunities to have real-world learning experiences and connections for career opportunities afterwards.Justin Horoiwa SPP Student
Gregory will also be focusing on international security and economic policy during her time at SPP. “As an undergraduate student at Central Michigan University, I studied abroad in Morocco and Ireland, where I gained an appreciation for international relations and international security policy,” she says, “I think this fellowship will take me to the next level by joining my academic endeavors with my professional goals. The internship and foreign language study I will complete for the Robertson Fellowship will compliment my MPP in a very constructive and meaningful way.”
“For me, a degree in public policy is important because it will give me the tools to work with others to create lasting, meaningful change,” Gregory adds. “In addition, the financial assistance provided by my fellowship has made all of these exciting new things--getting my master’s at UMD, moving to D.C., securing an internship and more--possible for me.”
After living in Germany in 2014, Horoiwa developed a love for learning foreign languages and living in different cultures. “This led to serving in the Peace Corps in Guinea in West Africa from 2016 to 2019,” he says. “During this era, I developed the belief that we can bring countries together, end wars and prevent conflicts if we take the time to learn each other’s languages, cultures and histories.”
“I began to think about a career in diplomacy, and studying public policy is a natural path for anyone who seeks to make positive change through public service or the nonprofit sector, internationally or domestically,” Horoiwa adds. “My aim is to work in the foreign policy field, and UMD is one of the best schools in the world for this discipline. The university’s close proximity to Washington, D.C. also means that there are so many opportunities to have real-world learning experiences and connections for career opportunities afterwards.”
Laiveling says he’s also looking forward to building connections during his time at SPP. “I love academia and look forward to building close connections with my classmates that positively impact our work in an academic setting as well as in the world that comes beyond graduation,” he says. “I’m interested in topics such as terrorism and insurgency, nuclear strategy and the causes and conduct of war--with an eye towards the Middle East.”
“When I began studying international affairs in undergrad, international security issues such as the rise of the Islamic State and the civil war in Ukraine dominated headlines and captivated me,” Laiveling adds. “While I loved learning the academic theories of international relations, I wanted to find practical applications for what I was learning and a career in government working to solve such conflicts seemed like the most interesting way to do that.”
Laiveling also says he was drawn to SPP because of the faculty. “I noticed that SPP has an excellent mix of faculty coming from both academic as well as public service backgrounds and I felt that this was a beneficial balance that suits my interest in both academia and public policy,” he says. “It was my goal since day one of studying international affairs in undergrad to serve in government and this fellowship seemed like a great way to make that dream a reality.”
Robertson Fellows are required to be enrolled in the two-year Master of Public Policy program and have a commitment to a career in the federal government in foreign policy, national security and/or international affairs. Robertson Fellows also participate in a Robertson internship and are required to work for the federal government for three of their initial seven years following graduation and to demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language at the time of graduation.
The Robertson Foundation for Government is a nonprofit family foundation that works to identify, educate and motivate U.S. graduate students to pursue federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and international affairs. The foundation was established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson, and named in their honor.