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Student Ellis McKennie Combines His Interests While Studying at SPP

When he was young, Ellis McKennie developed an interest in government, politics and football. Now, he’s following those passions as he plays on the University of Maryland football team while pursuing a master’s degree at the School of Public Policy.
As an offensive lineman at UMD, McKennie has blocked and tackled while supporting his teammates on the road to victory. Off the field, his dedication to his studies landed him on the Academic All-Big Ten list in 2017 and 2018. He was also elected to the University Senate for the 2019-2020 school year.
“I’ve always been interested in government and politics growing up as a kid,” McKennie says. “When I took a government class my senior year of high school, that really got me interested. When I had the opportunity to go to grad school and still play football, public policy was the best major that fit my interests here at the University.”
McKennie says he feels a strong commitment to his teammates, and also to the School of Public Policy. “At SPP, I just love the interaction with my classmates, because everyone has similar interests and similar aspirations,” he says. “That leads to productive classes and interesting discussions. And that’s something I noticed during my first semester.”

When I had the opportunity to go to grad school and still play football, public policy was the best major that fit my interests here at the University.
Ellis McKennie

Last year, McKennie was able to pursue an internship with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin’s Baltimore office to gain experience in the policy field. “During the internship, I supported both the outreach and the case working staff,” he said.

He adds that he was also able to assist field representatives who hold events for Senator Cardin around the state. “I worked closely with the director of outreach who focuses mostly on Baltimore City,” McKennie says. “I got to go to a lot of events with him and Senator Cardin and plan those events to get the senator in front of different audiences to hear from different people throughout the state.”

As he enters into his last year of graduate school, McKennie says he plans to pursue a career as a lawyer in the future. He will graduate in May 2020. “I want to be a lawyer, but then I want to be involved in politics,” he says. “I always told my parents I wanted to be a politician, so I think being a lawyer is the path I’d like to take to lead into a life of politics.”
“I feel the obligation to make a difference,” he says. “The obligation to use my platform and education to fight for people who do not have the voice to fight for themselves.”

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