Presidential Public Service Fellows dedicate summer to studying municipal government

August 02, 2023

Quinnipiac Presidential Public Service Fellows dedicate their summer to studying municipal government

Quinnipiac student Alex Ramnarine '25 has always been interested in a career in municipal government and his passions became a reality when he took on the role of being a Presidential Public Service Fellow.

Ramnarine, a criminal justice major from Middlebury, Connecticut, is one of nine Quinnipiac students who are spending the summer getting a first-hand look at how municipal government works.

Ramnarine has worked for Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett’s office, mainly developing a “process map” to help find candidates for the town’s various boards and commissions. Additionally, Ramnarine is helping with Hamden’s Sustainable Connecticut mission.

“I like to think of it as a crash course into municipal government,” he said. “It’s made me want to go into government even more. I get to see how all this valuable work that we do really impacts how residents live their lives. Local government is where the rubber hits the road and it’s a really crucial process.”

The students are part of Quinnipiac’s Presidential Public Service Fellowship Program, an initiative in its 20th year partnering with the local community. The fellowship places outstanding Quinnipiac student leaders into municipal departments for paid full-time public service in Hamden and North Haven. Students leverage their strengths for advancing projects defined by the community, leaving an enduring benefit to the towns.

“I think it is great for building the relationship between the university and the town,” Garrett said. “The students that have come through this program are really smart, hard-working students. They have been able to work on specific projects that are hard for us to really get to because we are dealing with the day-to-day running of the town. We really appreciated their impact and their input. I am really happy to partner with Quinnipiac.”

Martin Radeny, a civil engineering major from Nairobi, Kenya, is getting real-world experience working for the North Haven Engineering Department.

Some of his duties have included marking catch basins, measuring road cracks, visiting blighted properties and inspecting vacant town-owned properties.

“Through these projects, I’ve been able to learn more about the town and what it has to offer in addition to the key requirements for a well-functioning municipal government,” he said. “It’s an honor to be a part of the 20th group of fellows. I hope more students in the future will be able to join the program and take it on to the next milestone.”

The fellowship is a partnership with the office of Quinnipiac President Judy Olian and local town officials. North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said the relationship has been mutually beneficial.

“I have embraced this program from the first year that I took office and have I watched with a great deal of pride how the students who have participated have thrived in learning about local government,” he said. “Their contributions in working with our staff have been a great benefit to us also. These young men and women become part of our professional family during their time with us. Although we miss them when they leave us, we are comforted by the fact that we know they will be very successful in their future endeavors. I appreciate this program very much.”

The other fellows are Elise Boisvert (Hamden Planning and Zoning); Emily Diaz (Hamden’s Keefe Community Center); Ryan Hagerman (Hamden Economic Development); Carson Laundry (North Haven Public Works); Genesis Paulino (Hamden Youth Services); Baishampayan Sarkar (Hamden Finance and Grants); and Laura Van Aken (Hamden Arts and Recreation).

Launched in 2003, the fellowship program has placed 130 fellows in town government. Scott McLean, professor of political science, directs the fellowship program.

McLean started with just four students and has kept in touch with many former fellows.

“Our Public Service Fellows have become business leaders, attorneys, scientists, health professionals, elected officials and social justice advocates,” said McLean. “Regardless of their eventual profession, they have gone on to lives of enlightened and engaged citizenship in their communities. Their time in government was brief, but it is undeniable that their self-confidence as leaders, and their understanding of how to make things happen in their community, has had a lasting impact.”

McLean said his work with college students over two decades has made him more optimistic than ever about the future.

“It is true that the youth of today often get turned off by the way politics are,” said McLean. “But make no mistake: This generation is as savvy and as hungry for action as any I’ve seen, and even this brief time seeing the public impact of their work makes them even more confident in their ability to change things.” 

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