Three Values and Public Life Certificate Students Named SINSI Scholars

Thursday, Feb 15, 2018
by Femke de Ruyter

Three students pursuing a Values and Public Life (VPL) undergraduate certificate are among the ten selected to the 2018 cohort of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI). The three VPL students are: senior John “Newby” Parton, and juniors Julia Herrle and Aaron Xiao Sobel.

Parton is concentrating in WWS and pursuing certificates in Urban Studies and VPL. Parton, who was also a SINSI intern last year, was admitted as a graduate fellow, which means that he will be entering Woodrow Wilson’s School’s MPA Program next fall. Parton will complete his first year of the MPA program, then spend two years working in a federal agency as a SINSI fellow, and subsequently finish his second MPA year at Princeton.

“I plan to have a career in civil rights law,” Parton said. Last summer, Parton worked in the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. “I connected to that work personally — my youngest brother has a disability — so the experience was incredibly rewarding.”

Looking ahead, Parton is interested in criminal justice reform. “Bail is particularly important to me. Tens of thousands of Americans are held in jail, without a trial, until the disposition of their case, simply because they can't afford small bail amounts of $2500 or less,” he said. “Bail effectively incarcerates the poor and it fails to make communities safer. In many jurisdictions, pretrial incarceration can last years even for minor offenses. I don't know how you reconcile that with our Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial,” Parton questioned.

As SINSI interns, Sobel and Herrle will hold an eight-to-ten week summer internship in the federal government for which they’ll receive a weekly stipend.

Herrle is concentrating in WWS and pursuing certificates in Environmental Studies and VPL. She hopes to work for USAID, the State Department, USDA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, or the UN World Food Programme.  Her participation in VPL plays an important role in her future career as a policy maker, Herrle said: “The VPL program gives me practice in identifying and evaluating the ethical implications of a proposed policy solution.  This skill is essential for creating policies that are just, as well as effective.” 

Sobel is also concentrating in WWS and pursuing certificates in History and the Practice of Diplomacy and in VPL. Sobel said his long-term interests involve the intersection of law, development, and diplomacy: “I'm interested in building legal institutional capacity (especially, strengthening accountability mechanisms) and helping forge equitable legal frameworks in early developing countries.”

The SINSI program was established to encourage outstanding individuals to pursue careers in public service, both nationally and internationally. Not surprisingly, those students interested in careers in public service frequently overlap with those concerned about integrating a critical value perspective into their future pursuits, as those pursuing the certificate in VPL are equipped to do..

Values and Public Life prepares students to bring informed discussion of values into the public sphere and to integrate a critical value perspective into their future studies and pursuits. The first two core requirements: Introduction to Moral Philosophy and one - of five available options - political theory course, lay the foundation for applying critical thought to current issues. Students build upon this foundation to explore the ethical dimensions of the issues they are most interested in or concerned about, including, but not limited, to the environment, bioethics, cognitive science, or human rights.  

Applications for the Values and Public Life Program open this coming Monday, February 19th; the application deadline is Wednesday March 28. If you are interested in speaking to someone further about the program, please contact VPL Program Coordinator Femke de Ruyter.