Multiple Young Fellows carry on family mission to shape public policy here and abroad
As Georgia State University celebrates the 80th birthday of civil rights leader Andrew Young, his family’s values and mission are helping guide and fund students pursuing advanced degrees in the School of Policy Studies named for him.
Reflecting his life and reach, the various fellowships connected to the Young family include:
- The Jean Childs Young Fellowship, for academic expenses of public policy graduate students and a biannual lecture in her name. Jean Childs Young, who passed away in 1994, was Andrew Young’s wife. Her fellowship is endowed through a $500,000 gift from Charles Loudermilk, the founder and CEO of Aaron Rents and a former campaign manager for Andrew Young.
- The Carolyn McClain Young Fellowship, to attract and support graduate students who are “leaders of tomorrow” from countries in the Caribbean, on the African continent or in nations with emerging economies. Carolyn McClain Young is married to Andrew Young, who set up the fund in 1999.
- The Andrew Young Fellowship, in combination with a graduate research assistantship, provides an annual stipend and tuition waiver for students pursuing the Ph.D. in public policy, economics, and criminal justice.
The funding is part of the Young family’s commitment to help train people to work in the United States and the world. GSU’s location in downtown Atlanta gives students a historic vantage point to study what Young calls Atlanta’s fairness formula: “That we could go forward if we all went forward together. . . . We’ve always been able to package ideas to include everyone, and I think that’s the key to the city’s success.”
“Hopefully the world will see some of the things that we’ve made work here and they will go back to their countries and help make good things happen there,” he said.
The fellowships are having that impact already, according to the graduate students who currently benefit from them.
Lorenzo Almada, recently named the first Jean Childs Young Fellow, said the funding was critical in his study of health economics. His career goal is to bring awareness and understanding to issues, such as obesity, that impact the health of children and adults in the United States, especially those with limited means. He is working on identifying incentives that will help people make healthier choices.
“I aspire to be able to compare myself to Jean Childs Young! She was an incredible woman who accomplished a great deal,” Almada said. “Many of our interests are aligned, such as the concern for children’s welfare and passion for education. She was very active in her community and worked hard to improve people’s lives and end disparity and suffering. I would be thrilled to achieve even half of what she has. Almada expects to graduate in May 2013.
Carolyn McClain Young Fellow Emefa “Emmy” Sewordor served as a bank economist on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. She observed how technical issues kept her region from meeting fiscal challenges and chose GSU for a Ph.D. in public policy with an emphasis on public budgeting and finance. Her previous education included a master’s degree in economics from the University of British Columbia and an honors bachelor of science degree in mathematics and economics from the University of Toronto.
“I intend to return to the Caribbean to work with our governments and then someday to serve with the United Nations,” said Sewordor, who is co-funded through a Fulbright Scholarship. (GSU currently has 21 Fulbright Scholars on campus from countries in Asia, Europe and Africa). Sewordor expects to finish in 2015.
Andrew Young Fellow Mark Curtis is a native Atlantan pursuing a Ph.D. in economics in the environmental, labor and public policy fields. His goal is to help create policy-relevant research that will help to inform public dialogue, rational debate and informed decision making on such issues as the benefits and costs of environmental regulation, employer mandates and government spending. After Curtis finished his master’s degree at Duke, the Young Fellowship was a deciding factor choosing GSU over several offers.
Curtis recalled the impact of meeting Young at an event crowded with VIPs:
“Upon introducing myself and informing him I was an Andrew Young Fellow, Ambassador Young’s eyes lit up and he proceeded to speak with me for the next ten minutes about my interests and his vision for the Andrew Young School,” Curtis said. “Having grown up in Atlanta, I have always been aware of the impact he has made on this city and the world, and it was great to meet him in person.
“While I never witnessed the overt racism and violence that drove Ambassador Young to enter politics, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the problems caused by unemployment, poverty and disease both here in the United States and abroad. Andrew Young responded to the problems he saw by entering politics. My response was to study how these problems are alleviated or exacerbated by the policies that we implement.”
Now in its 16th year, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies has carved out a niche of influence and excellence, as well as a few plum spots in the U.S. News and World Report national rankings. This year, the school broke into the top 25, the nonprofit management program was ranked no. 12, and the public finance program was rated no. 4 – a remarkable feat for a school that didn’t exist two decades ago.
“We have sort of taken [Andrew Young’s]life and work as the touchstone for our mission as a school,” says Harvey Newman, professor and chair of the department of public management and policy. “He’s much more than just ‘name over door’ – he’s been very active in helping to shape the school.”
—By Michelle Hiskey and Public Relations Specialist Kathleen Poe Ross; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424