Yale’s Millstone Fellowship Nurtures Next Generation of Public Service Leaders

Authored By 
Rick Harrison
October 30, 2023

Ethan Yan sits in the seat of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amal Thapar with portraits and a flag in the background

Michaela Bauman spent her summer helping the United States bolster deterrence against China and aid Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.

As one of the seven inaugural recipients of the Institution for Social and Policy Study’s Millstone Fellowship for Public Service, Bauman, a senior from Washington, D.C., majoring in global affairs, worked at the Pentagon as a policy intern for the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, preparing senior Defense Department officials to testify before the House and Senate armed services and foreign affairs committees.

“This internship has easily been my most rewarding professional experience,” she said. “It has inspired me to pursue a career in national security and diplomacy. I felt very excited going into work each day knowing that I was helping to protect my country.”

Established last year with the help of a generous gift from Yale College alumni Jennifer Millstone ’00 and David Millstone ’99, the competitive fellowship provides undergraduate students with opportunities to learn more about careers in public service. Students receive resources to pay for housing, transportation, and other expenses while gaining valuable experience and building a network of peers and professional contacts in the public sector.

“We are tremendously excited to have added the Millstone Fellowship to ISPS’s roster of student-focused programs,” said Alan Gerber, ISPS director and Sterling Professor of Political Science. “Students have the opportunity to work directly with career professionals who have dedicated their lives to public service across all levels of government.”

ISPS faculty fellow Christina Kinane, assistant professor of political science, coordinates the program.

“It has been an absolute joy working with these students and cultivating their interest in public service,” Kinane said. “Thanks to this fellowship, we are able to provide opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible to students and introduce them to alumni who can make key connections and offer invaluable advice.”

Attendees at a dinner earlier this month included Ron Borzekowski, the inaugural executive director of Yale’s Data-Intensive Social Science Center, a fellow with ISPS, and a nominee to become director of the Office of Financial Research at the U.S. Treasury; Kate Stith, the Lafayette S. Foster Professor of Law at Yale Law School and former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York; Nat McLaughlin, ’21 MBA, a senior program manager at the Tobin Center for Economic Policy and former policy advisor to Connecticut’s chief budget officer; Jess Baily, ‘82, a former foreign service officer and ambassador to Macedonia and Turkey; Diego Fernandez-Pages, ‘18, a first-year student at Yale Law School; and Veronica Chiu, ’19 MA, a foreign service officer who most recently served in Hong Kong and Macau.

Bauman said she is grateful for the mentorship she received this summer, learning about military culture and how to write insightful and concise memos.

“I am very thankful for the Millstone Fellowship because my internship program in the Office of the Secretary of Defense was unpaid,” she said. “So, I would not have had this experience without it.”Michaela Bauman speaks in a round yellow room from behind a lectern

Rachel Brown, a senior majoring in history, spent her summer fellowship working for the Office of the U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California, examining case evidence and offering detailed recommendations on whether or not to prosecute.

“I loved it,” Brown said. “I got to feel like an attorney. This experience really showed me how the legal system works up close.”

In researching cases, Brown learned about cybercrime and helped prepare a witness involved in a gang-related shooting of an off-duty police officer.

“Working in a prosecutor’s office, you get to see the power they really hold,” she said. “It inspired me for my future about maybe becoming a prosecutor and how much good you can do in that position. When you’re able to really look at all the evidence and confirm you are making the correct decisions on what, if any, charges to bring.”

Caleb Dunson, a senior majoring in political science and economics from Chicago, worked as an intern in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Recovery Programs, helping to assess the effectiveness of the $1.9 trillion 2021 American Rescue Plan in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dunson assembled a weekly internal newsletter with updates on rental assistance programs and interviewed current and former staff members to understand what worked and what could be improved when addressing another crisis.

“There were so many incredible stories to tell, and I think for me that showed the power of the federal government to really make a difference,” Dunson said. “So often, people toil away in the background, and it’s not necessarily clear to the American public how they are delivering significant positive outcomes. But I am so grateful I got the chance to see that up close.”

Ethan Fell, a senior from Tennessee majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, spent his summer at the District Attorney’s Office in Fulton County, Georgia. He shadowed an assistant district attorney over the course of three trials, including visits to crime scenes and the courtroom.

He helped prepare witnesses, drafted questions for direct and cross examination, worked on plea deal presentations, and assisted in jury selection.

“I really valued the opportunities that she gave me because she wasn’t giving me menial work,” Fell said. “She was giving me the real grunt work she had to do on a day-to-day basis in a fast-paced environment. And for that, I’m thankful for the Millstone Fellowship.”

Zoe Hsu, a senior from Los Angeles majoring in political science, spent her fellowship in the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office, helping to expand a guaranteed income program to benefit former foster youth and studying how this support would affect the economic mobility of recipients and future generations.

Hsu helped identify community organizations to serve as trusted messengers, launch a social media campaign, prepare a survey, and assist applicants.

“There were many emails I had to respond to from people who were in financial crisis,” she said. “Making sure that people know there is a real person at the other end of the email was incredibly important.”

Hsu said she found the experience tremendously rewarding.

“I am so grateful to the Millstone Fellowship for this opportunity to give back to my hometown and take a different look at how we can address socioeconomic inequality,” she said.Zoe Hsu speaks from behind a lectern as people watch

Kyle Lewis, a senior from Colorado majoring in philosophy and history, described his summer working in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of the Solicitor General in Washington, D.C., as the one place he was most happy to be.

“In my free time, the office would send me to the Supreme Court — where I once sat in the front row — and watch the justices read their opinions,” he said. “I got to ask the lawyers who represent the United States of America in the Supreme Court why they do that and how they do that and how they got there. I got to go to the Office of Legal Counsel and learn their perspective on public service and what it means to do such a high-stakes job with such high impact.”

Lewis expressed great respect for his senior colleagues and the Millstone Fellowship for granting him access.

“The level of professionalism that they exhibit every day, the level of competence with which they approach their activities, and the level of kindness that they extended to me demonstrated such admirable character,” he said. “And I would very much like to one day return there to work and do my part to shape our country’s laws.”

Ethan Yan, a senior from California majoring in political science, worked in Kentucky for Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, preparing memos for the judge prior to oral arguments, researching and reviewing draft opinions, and helping to publicize a book the judge wrote about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.Attorney General Merrick Garland and Kyle Lewis pose in a crowded room

“I’ve learned a lot in class and engaged in debates about esoteric legal theories, but it was something new to witness these cases in person,” Yan said. “There are real people and real facts before a judge, and they have to make a decision. There is a right answer and there is a wrong answer. Either a legislative act is constitutional, or it isn’t. And it was really valuable to be able to apply and translate what I have learned in the classroom.”

Yan believes public service is a noble calling that his grandfather, who had eight siblings and lived under Japanese occupation in Hong Kong, would very much appreciate.

“I’m certain he would be very grateful to this country and to the Millstones for giving me the chance to work this summer with a kind, caring, and distinguished jurist,” he said. “And I am grateful to everyone who has helped me as well.”

ISPS will begin accepting applications for this summer’s fellowship on Nov. 15 with a deadline of Jan. 5. Sophomores and juniors interested in the program can RSVP to attend an information session on Nov. 13.