MAPS attracts, builds strong cohort network

Nate Blanchard, Caitlin MooreBy Douglas Esser
Many of the students entering the UW Bothell Master of Arts in policy studies (MAPS) program already share a network of friendships and experiences in congressional offices that make them stand out. They expect the MAPS degree will help move them into careers where they can have an even greater impact. Photo: Nate Blanchard is entering the MAPS program as Caitlin Moore is leaving. (Marc Studer photo)

They include:
Ben Studley (community psychology ’16), veterans casework and outreach worker and a Wounded Warrior fellow in the Bothell office of Rep. Suzan DelBene

Nate Blanchard (law, economics and public policy ’17), summer intern in DelBene’s office,  

Joren Clowers (law, economics and public policy ’17) winter intern in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s Everett office;

Hussain Altamimi (law, economics and public policy ’17), spring intern in DelBene’s Bothell office, summer intern in Sen. Murray’s office;

Jaren Walker, a Seattle Pacific University graduate and community events scheduler in DelBene’s Bothell office; and 

Kaylee Galloway, Western Washington University graduate and outreach worker in DelBene’s Mount Vernon office.

"UW Bothell has always been a wonderful partner to me and my office," DelBene said. "Learning should be a life-long endeavor, and I'm pleased to see members of my staff continuing their education and further developing their skills and knowledge, which will only enhance their ability to serve our community."

Joren ClowersClowers, Altamimi and Blanchard also share a connection from UW Bothell’s Washington, D.C., Human Rights Seminar. It’s an intensive one-week trip to the nation’s capital before the start of school in September. Clowers is returning as the teaching assistant on this year’s trip, which is led by Ron Krabill, associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Science.

“There’s all these interlocking networks,” says Clowers. “I think that will be really cool for that tight cohort.”

Clowers, left, (Kristian Gorman photo) also is involved in government and policy work through two other positions. He’s the part-time program director for Bothell Youth Court, a partnership between the University and Bothell Municipal Court that helps high school students resolve traffic infractions. He’s seeking support to expand the jurisdiction to drug crimes and small criminal violations, such as theft. Clowers also is working part time this year as the student assistant with Kelly Snyder, UW Bothell's assistant vice chancellor for government and community relations.

Next year, Clowers plans to move to Washington, D.C., and hopes to work full time in a congressional office “to be where change is really happening.”

Nate BlanchardBlanchard, left, (Marc Studer photo) was a member of the UW Bothell Speech and Debate Team with Altamimi. Blanchard also was a Running Start student who attended Cascadia College. He continues his campus leadership as the director of government relations for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell.

“In politics, it’s about looking after each other and being team players and helping each other rise up.

That puts us all in a position to help one another to find new opportunities and network,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard, who hopes to attend a West Coast law school in 2018, appreciates that the MAPS program is now one year.

“It gave me the fastest opportunity to get out there and make a difference, something I’ve been studying for my whole life – to take theory and put it in practice,“ Blanchard said. “It’s incredible.”

Blanchard sees himself in a career in the legal field, as a political consultant or in a government relations position.

Ben StudleyStudley, left, (Jama Abdirahman photo) was a chancellor’s medalist last year. He entered UW Bothell after a 16-year Navy career that included service during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. Studley says he had a difficult transition to civilian life and found a calling at UW Bothell as the Vet Corps navigator, helping other veterans. That led to the fellowship in DelBene’s office.

As a patient himself in the Veterans Affairs health care system, Studley is familiar with many of the problems veterans encounter. A Duvall man named John said he was not receiving the disability benefits to which he was entitled. After many phone calls, Studley not only helped restore his benefits but had back-benefits paid and found ways for John to apply for money to make his house wheelchair accessible and buy a wheelchair-accessible car.

“A lot of people just don’t understand the system, so I explain what’s going on,” Studley said.

“That obviously made a significant difference to that man and his family,” said Ramsey Cox, DelBene’s communications director. Studley also established a veterans advisory board to relay concerns to DelBene. A recent meeting dealt with sexual assault issues.  

“He’s done a tremendous job in terms of outreach,” Cox said.

After the two-year Wounded Warrior fellowship ends, Studley would like to continue in DelBene’s office, if there is a position. And that’s where MAPS helps.

“This is what I want to do for my second career,” Studley said. “Why not give myself the tools to make myself competitive and make myself succeed?”

Studley also expects the MAPS cohort will strengthen DelBene’s office and said a one-year program with night classes won’t interfere with the job. “What a way to have everybody grow.”

Eventually, Studley may want to seek office himself. “Politics needs more veterans,” he said. “When it’s my time, it’s very attractive to maybe want to get into political office. That’s years down the road.”

As part of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, MAPS incorporates studies in political science, economics, sociology, psychology and philosophy. Students develop skills in research, analysis and cultural understanding as well as leadership and management. They take these skills into government service, nonprofit organizations as well as business, and they apply them to areas such as human rights, the environment, energy, governance and technology.

In the cohort model, all students enter in the fall quarter and advance as a group. Classes meet in the evenings twice or three times a week on the UW Bothell campus.

The program, launched in 2001, is expecting 22 students in this year’s cohort, said Miriam Bartha, director of graduate programs and strategic initiatives in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.

This is the first year for MAPS as a one-year program, with an early fall start. It had been two years, but after a review, administrators decided to better serve working students by trimming electives and focusing on the core curriculum with research through a faculty member or community partner, Bartha said.

Caitlin Moore“I think a lot of us enter policy studies because we are idealists,” said Caitlin Moore (MAPS ’17). Moore, left, (Marc Studer photo) had a mission in life even before she graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science focusing on genetics and biology. In 2007, she created the nonprofit Olympia Seed Exchange. It not only promoted organic seeds but also served as a way to spread information about biodiversity, food sovereignty and the political economy of the seed system. 

While attending an agriculture conference and hearing farmers talk about their frustrations, Moore realized that “they all boiled down to policy. If I wanted to make a bigger impact, I needed to enter the policy realm.”

Enrolling at UW Bothell “really opened my eyes” and broadened her interests, Moore said. She hopes to work in urban or transportation planning – “things that affect not just human health but the economy.”

“I was so laser-focused on the seed industry. Now, I’m thinking more of the 10,000-foot view of systems.”