Staying busy and engaged while pursuing a degree at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy is essential. Current student Whitney Dixon has managed to do both while earning a Master of Public Policy degree with a focus on international security and economic policy. During her time at the School, Dixon has interned with the U.S. Department of State, helped organize the Third Annual Saul I. Stern Symposium and served as director of communications for the University of Maryland Public Policy Review.
A recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, Dixon’s passion and commitment to foreign policy runs deep. Originally hailing from central Maryland, Dixon showed a passion for learning about other cultures and languages at a young age. In high school, she participated in People to People, a program started by President Eisenhower to promote cultural understanding and peace after World War II. Through People to People, she met with government officials in Normandy and London to learn about conflict resolution, which inspired her to enroll at George Washington University and pursue a degree in international affairs with a concentration in conflict resolution.
While in college, Dixon took courses on human trafficking and the Horn of Africa, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Morocco. In Morocco, she learned about and applied for the Pickering Fellowship, an award that supports members of historically underrepresented communities as they prepare to represent the United States as Foreign Service Officers. It was also in Morocco that Dixon learned about the UMD School of Public Policy through her Arabic teacher who knew Senior Research Scholar David Crocker. As she learned more about SPP’s international program and reputation, Dixon realized the University of Maryland where she wanted to pursue her graduate education.
Here at SPP, she has repeatedly shown her passion for “improving the lives of others through foreign policy initiatives” and she says she remains interested in foreign service and “promoting the unique diversity that is the United States, especially for those who are unable to visit it.” Specializing in international security and economic policy, she recognizes the importance of foreign policy expertise in today’s globalized world.
Dixon says she appreciates SPP’s curriculum, which often “forces you to leave your comfort zone” and gain experience through academic and real-world collaborations. The best part of these collaborations, she explains, is that they are multi-faceted experiences that combine the arenas of health, business, environmental sustainability, the armed forces and foreign policy among others. Dixon credits the School’s faculty and staff with helping to create a supportive environment that fosters academic growth.
Dixon has proved herself to be a true global citizen by focusing on policy issues at home and abroad. Last year, she served on the planning committee for the Third Annual Saul I. Stern Symposium, a forum dedicated to shedding light on an underserved policy issue. Dixon and her co-planners organized an event focused on mitigating inequality through economic policies. She recalls, “it was a rewarding experience because it taught me how to strategically plan for a large-scale policy event and promoted an issue about which I was passionate.” Dixon encourages her fellow SPP students to pursue their passions and advises them to take the time to “learn the difference between describing a problem and prescribing a solution.”