ISPS Program Encourages Public Service: Alumni Establish Millstone Fellowship to Support Internships

Authored By 
Rick Harrison
May 30, 2023

Justin Elicker speaks to students, faculty, and alumni in a round room.

As a first-generation, low-income college student, Zoe Hsu feels drawn to public service. And her experiences have shaped her interactions with indigent defendants as an intern with the New Haven Federal Public Defender’s Office.

“I had learned from my Yale courses that poor people often do not have access to the same quality of legal representation as wealthier people in the criminal legal system,” said Hsu, a rising Yale College senior majoring in political science. “But getting to see up close how systemic inequities affect clients — perpetuating problems such as poverty and substance abuse — made me realize how much we need to improve if we want to truly serve justice in our country.”

Hsu is determined to change the system and sees internships as a first step. But she acknowledges that such opportunities are not equally available to all students. Even at Yale, it can be difficult for some students to afford the costs of living while working at competitive — and often unpaid — internships.

Now, with the help of a generous gift from Yale College alumni Jennifer Millstone ’00 and David Millstone ’99, the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS) is providing undergraduate students with the resources to pay for housing, transportation, and other expenses while gaining valuable experience and building a network of peers and professional contacts in pursuit of careers in public service.

“I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity,” said Hsu, who will work this summer at the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office. “This fellowship allows me to pursue my passion for public service.”

Hsu joins an inaugural group of seven students who will receive funding through ISPS’s Millstone Fellowship for Public Service to support their summer internships in local, state, and federal government.

The new fellowship joins four other ISPS fellowships designed to prepare undergraduate, graduate, and predoctoral students from across disciplines to contribute to domestic policy discussions in the United States.

“The addition of the Millstone Fellowship enhances the range of experiences available to our students and demonstrates ISPS’s commitment to preparing students for the hard and rewarding work of public service,” said Alan Gerber, ISPS director and Sterling Professor of Political Science.

Christina Kinane, assistant professor of political science, ISPS faculty fellow, and faculty advisor of the Millstone Fellowship, expressed her excitement about the program’s ability to cultivate careers in government for Yale students who often feel compelled to take more lucrative offers from companies in finance, technology, and consulting.

“Yale undergrads are driven and ambitious and incredibly smart — really looking to make a big impact on the world,” Kinane said. “But before this new program, we didn’t have the structure, financial support, and mentoring in place to compete with the private sector. Now we do. And it’s more important than ever that we encourage our motivated and amazing students to help shape the future of our government and public policies.”

Kinane said the program will feature as many as 15 students in the future and rapidly grow its network infrastructure to serve as a central clearinghouse of information on the opportunities that are available to undergraduates looking for places to make a big impact.

“Interns, especially clever and capable ones like those coming from Yale, are often given opportunities to make an impact quickly,” she said. “By facilitating an early taste of making a substantial contribution, we can encourage influential, long-term careers in the public sector.”

In addition, ISPS has begun constructing a network of alumni with experience in government. At a recent dinner to launch the program, the student fellows met with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker ’10 MBA, ’10 MEM, a graduate of Yale School of Management and Yale School of the Environment; Director for the U.S. Forest Service National Partnership Office Gary Barrett ’96 MF, Yale School of the Environment; and Will Moreland ’13, a graduate of Yale College who is currently a director for foreign policy at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on technology and national security and who has interned with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Yale has a rich history of educating people and introducing them to public service,” Moreland said. “I am happy to share my experiences to help students expand their scope of possible paths, make network connections, and get the foundational experiences they will need to be successful.”

Moreland encouraged the students to treat their colleagues with respect regardless of where they fall in an office hierarchy.

“Washington, D.C., is a small town,” he said. “Your currency is your reputation, and there is no policy goal you can achieve alone.”

Kyle Lewis is a rising senior from Colorado double majoring in history and philosophy. He will intern in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Solicitor General, helping represent the federal government in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The political branches need lawyers representing the people with a strong voice,” Lewis said. “I would love to be a part of that. This fellowship gives me a chance to work with the best constitutional lawyers in the country, see who they are, how they think, and get their advice.”

Barrett told the students to make networking about building personal — not transactional — relationships. He said they should embrace happy accidents in their careers rather than be hyper- focused on planning out every step because flexibility is the key to achieving better outcomes with fewer disappointments. And he encouraged them to let their passions drive them.

“Being a public servant is awesome,” Barrett said. “You will have challenging days. The sum total of days helps you become a better person.”

Hsu said she was grateful the Yale alumni were open to share their career paths, and she hoped to reciprocate one day.

“I don’t come from a family with public servants,” she said. “It’s exciting to be part of the inaugural cohort of Millstone fellows — people who are like-minded and working in different places across the country. It gives us an opportunity to mentor the next group. And I’m sure we will come across each other in the future.”

The Inaugural Class of Millstone Fellows:

Michaela Bauman

College: Davenport

Major: Global Affairs and Certificate Programs in Spanish and Portuguese

Millstone Internship: U.S. Department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs

Experience: Michaela has worked as an intern with the office of U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)., the Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Higher Education, and the Georgetown University Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership.

Activities: She is a fellow with Yale’s MacMillan Center Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies. She serves on the board of Bridges ESL, a club that offers free English lessons to immigrants, and Y2Y New Haven, a student-run crisis housing program for young adults. She was drawn to an internship at the Department of Defense after participating in the Peace and Dialogue Leadership Initiative in 2022, through which she traveled to Israel and Palestine with West Point cadets to study conflict resolution, civil-military relations, and the United States’ role in the Middle East.

Rachel Brown

College: Silliman

Major: History                 

Millstone Internship: U.S. Attorney, Central District of California

Experience: Rachel has worked as an intern for U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent.

Activities: She serves as president of the Yale Undergraduate Women’s Athletic Network, communications director for the Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association, and events director on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. In addition, she plays on Yale’s Division 1 field hockey team, volunteers with the Yale Law School Prison Letter Project and a soup kitchen, and dons the costume of her residential college’s mascot for campus events.

Caleb Dunson

College: Saybrook

Major: Political Science and Economics

Millstone Internship: U.S. Treasury Department Office of Economic Policy

Experience: Caleb has worked as a summer analyst for Goldman Sachs and as an intern with U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), the New Haven Mayor’s Office, and the financial services company Morningstar.

Activities: He was opinion editor for the Yale Daily News, leading outreach for a more diverse and inclusive desk, and now serves as co-editor-in-chief of The Comma, a new campus publication centered on cultural criticism.

Ethan Fell

College: Benjamin Franklin

Major: Ethics, Politics & Economics 

Millstone Internship: Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney

Experience: Ethan worked as a research and policy analysis extern for District Public, a company that helps New York City schools collect, analyze, and utilize data. He has also worked as an intern for the Office of the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee and as a page for the U.S. Senate.

Activities: He is president of the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, organizing students to work on issues related the criminal justice system, and a member of the Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association, helping provide legal access to underprivileged individuals.

Zoe Hsu

College: Berkeley

Major: Political Science  

Millstone Internship: Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office

Experience: Zoe has worked with the New Haven Federal Public Defender’s Office, the City of New Haven, and the Yale Interactive Machines Group.

Activities: She was elected as Yale’s youngest-ever student body vice president, representing more than 6,000 students and helping to lead more than 50 student officers. Previous roles on the Yale College Council include Executive Board equity director and senator. As legislative captain for Yale College Democrats, she worked on state gun control legislation and research on the effects of COVID-19 on the prison system.

Activities: She is the founder and president of MyVote Project, a nonpartisan organization providing voters with candidate and policy information before elections. She is the founder and president of Yale Students Demand Action, a nonpartisan gun violence prevention group; a board member of Chabad at Yale; an ISPS Director’s fellow; and a graduate of The Campaign School at Yale.

Kyle Lewis

College: Timothy Dwight

Major: Philosophy and History

Millstone Internship: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General

Experience: Kyle works as an editorial intern with the Yale Law Journal and worked as a teaching fellow with Breakthrough at Kent Denver, a series of educational programs to support students in need. He has also worked as an assistant coach for his Colorado high school’s mock trial team.

Activities: He has held leadership roles for the Yale Undergraduate Moot Court, including captain of the oral argument team and director of the school’s first undergraduate invitational competition.

Ethan Yan

College: Grace Hopper

Major: Political Science (Intensive)

Millstone Internship: Judge Amul Thapar, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit

Experience: Ethan has served as an intern for U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Social Security Administration, California state Sen. Jerry Hill, and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

Activities:  He has been an editorial intern for the Yale Law Journal, a volunteer teacher for Splash at Yale, a musician at St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel, an assistant coach for a California school mock trial team, and a volunteer with the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.