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CSB student selected to participate in Public Policy and Leadership Conference at Harvard

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February 19, 2007

Bibi Abdalla, a student at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., has been selected to participate in the seventh annual Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC) Feb. 22-25 at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Abdalla is one of 50 students from around the country to be selected for the conference from a pool of approximately 125 applicants. She was the only student selected from a Minnesota college or university – the second consecutive year that CSB has had the only Minnesota representative at the conference.

The PPLC is designed to inform students about careers in the public sector. The conference encourages students who possess a commitment to public service to prepare for graduate study in public policy and international affairs, as well as to provide information on financial support through various fellowship programs.

Among the speakers at the conference include Alan Khazei, co-founder and CEO of City Year, a national youth service that inspired the development of AmeriCorps, the nation’s federal investment in national youth service; Heather Campion, group executive vice president and director of corporate affairs at Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a multi-state bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I.; and George Moose, former assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1993-97 and former ambassador to Benin (1983-86) and the Republic of Senegal (1988-91).

“I am really excited to meet ambassadors and others who work with U.S. foreign policy,” Abdalla said. “I want to work in U.S. foreign policy someday, so meeting people who work for these agencies is really interesting to me.”

Abdalla is a sophomore political science major from St. Paul, Minn. She enjoys volunteering during the summer months. During the academic year, Abdalla concentrates on her studies but finds time to be a member of the CSB/SJU Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement and the Asian Club. She is also a fellow in the Intercultural Leadership, Education and Development program at CSB/SJU.

“I love volunteering,” Abdalla said. “Whenever there is a need and I have the skills to meet those needs, I try to provide my service to those who need it. This past summer, as a civil war broke out in Somalia, I enjoined a group of students to raise money for Somali public hospitals in Mogadishu. At that same time, I was volunteering as a translator for an immigration law center in St. Paul.”           

Abdalla was recommended to attend the conference by Matt Lindstrom, associate professor of political science at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University. Besides Lindstrom’s recommendation, Abdalla had to send a resume, a personal statement and an academic transcript.

“Bibi is an ambitious political science major and an active participant in the Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement,” Lindstrom said. “She is passionate about international politics and is committed to a career in public policy and public service.

“This conference gives Bibi an opportunity to network with senior policy makers, elite graduate school representatives as well as exceptional students from around the world who are interested in public policy,” Lindstrom said.

“This (conference) will help me determine if this is really what I want,” Abdalla said. “The purpose of the conference is to recruit minorities into U.S. foreign policy. So, I guess it helps to have their expertise, their sharing of their experiences.”