Bocock and Hitz PUBLIC Service
BORN TO LEAD
Ask Emily Perkins (Col ’20, Batten ’21) what motivates her, and that’s the answer she provides. It’s unsurprising, considering everything she’s done to prepare for a life of public service.
The recent graduate just completed the accelerated Master of Public Policy program at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, where she was one of nine 2020-21 recipients of the Bocock and Hitz Public Service Fellowship. Established by Mary Buford and Fred Hitz, the fellowship supports exceptional students in Batten’s MPP program who are dedicated to creating positive change in their public service careers. Giving to the fellowship totaled approximately $650,000, which today has grown to more than $1,137,000, thanks to expert investment management by UVIMCO.
Originally from Roanoke, Perkins developed an interest in politics as a teen, when she and her parents would regularly engage in spirited debates about current events. Her affinity grew in the ensuing years, as the national political climate heated up and there seemed to develop an unbridgeable divide between the two sides of the political spectrum.
“I was sick of seeing politicians fight all the time,” she said. “I decided to get involved. I want to be part of the decision-making process and use the leadership skills I’ve learned to find solutions that will actually help people.”Perkins has certainly honed her ability to lead. During her time at Batten, she was a member of the Tri-Sector Leadership program, where she partnered with students from the Darden School of Business and the School of Law to cultivate multi-sector solutions to complex social problems.
She also served as a chair for the Batten Graduate Council, advocating for the needs and interests of the student body.
Meanwhile, the aspiring public servant completed several internships, both as an undergraduate and while pursuing her MPP. Working with Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Council for Nonprofits, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville provided Perkins with valuable insight into the world of nonprofit organizations. At Habitat for Humanity, she learned to think holistically about the policy decisions that affect the communities nonprofits serve. While she hopes to run for office one day, Perkins first plans to make an impact in the world of nonprofit advocacy.
“There’s the day-to-day work that nonprofits do, and then there’s the systemic issues behind why some of these problems exist in the first place,” she said. “I want to do all that I can to advocate for these organizations and help them get better legislation passed.”
Perkins cherishes the time she spent at Batten. She noted that while the curriculum was often challenging, she was consistently inspired by her professors and fellow students. Reflecting on her experience, she took a moment to consider how fortunate she was to receive her fellowship.
“I’m so grateful,” she said. “As a graduate student, I wasn’t only worried about my schoolwork, but how to pay for housing, food, and books. My fellowship reduced my financial burden. I’m looking forward to using what I learned to help make society a better place.”