By Breanna Ramos
UCLA Luskin Student Writer
Leadership, integrity, drive, and citizenship are qualities that leaders should have — Sydney Ganon (MPP ’17) has them all.
Ganon is the second recipient of the Ronald Reagan Public Policy Fellowship, an annual award. Through the support of The Reagan Presidential Foundation and The Draine Family Charitable Foundation, UCLA Luskin students apply to receive up to $30,000 for the two-year Fellowship. Upon hearing the news, Ganon declined offers to other schools.
As a Fellow, there are a number of requirements the recipient must uphold, academic strength being one of them. Ganon, who graduated from the University of Vermont (cum laude with a B.A. in Anthropology and English is pursuing her MPP with a focus on educational policy and quantitative analysis.
“I’m interested in learning about the cross-sections between education and other policy, such as education and health, education and environment,” Ganon said. “I like that the broad program at UCLA lets me look at those other factors.”
Recipients also must have a keen interest in public policy and assisting in the local community. At the Knowledge is Power Program New York City (KIPP NYC), which is a national network of public charter schools, Ganon was heavily involved: from organizing volunteers to connecting students’ families with local officials through lobbying.
“I’m really happy that I worked before going to grad school,” Ganon said. “If I hadn’t worked at KIPP, I would have never known that education was what I wanted to have as my career. The experience totally shaped where I wanted to go.”
A key part of the Fellowship is access to Reagan’s Presidential Library. As a part of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center’s internship program, Ganon must complete 100 internship hours at the library. Over the two-year Fellowship, the internship hours will give Ganon the time she wants to research Reagan’s educational policies.
“One of the incredible things about the Fellowship is that you get to see and learn about things from the politician’s side,” Ganon explained. “In order to create change, you have to understand what’s going on from both sides.”
Upon earning her MPP, Ganon plans on pursuing a career that provides opportunities to improve education for all.
“I would like to be working pretty specifically in education analytics, either with a school district or the state,” Ganon elaborated. “I want to be heavily involved in student data and test scores, using that information to make schools better.”