Grace Fulop ’13 expanded her interest in public policy through her Levitt Public Service Internship this summer. Fulop worked at LIFT, a national non-profit organization that embraces holistic solutions to the issue of poverty in the United States. Fulop primarily worked in direct client service, helping low-income community members in LIFT’s four areas of assistance: housing, employment, public benefits, and referrals. Fulop also worked independently to develop a database of available housing programs in the Maryland counties surrounding Washington, DC.
Fulop saw firsthand the implications of policies she has learned about in her coursework at Hamilton in practice through working one on one with people. In her meetings with clients she helped people create resumes and cover letters, search and apply for employment, find transitional and permanent housing, apply for public benefits such as TANF and SNAP, and locate services such as emergency rental assistance, childcare, and legal assistance, among many other things. “I really liked LIFT’s client-driven, strengths-based model for service. Seeing the tangible results and successes of my clients was one of the most rewarding parts of working with LIFT this summer,” said Fulop.
In addition to working directly with clients, Fulop also developed a database for LIFT of the available low-cost transitional, temporary and permanent housing programs in the Maryland counties surrounding DC. “LIFT already had an extensive list of programs and housing options to refer clients to within the district lines, but many of our clients come from the metro area extending into Maryland,” said Fulop. She therefore researched and contacted organizations, and compiled a list of programs for a variety of populations, including the elderly, disabled, families, and people with criminal backgrounds to implement into LIFT’s larger housing database. “My project was important because it broadened the scope of the DC metro community that LIFT is able to reach and help,” she added.
This internship was important for Fulop because it solidified her decision to pursue a career in public service after graduation, and also gave her a better idea of what she is specifically interested in doing. “Working at LIFT this summer has allowed me to witness the issues of poverty in America first-hand, and has also given me insight into the challenges that non-profits and social workers face in their "bottom-up" approach to fighting poverty,” she said. “Although the direct involvement I have had with the DC community has been an invaluable experience, I have realized that I do not want a career in social work as a case manager. Rather, I am more interested in how more macro level policies affect people.” As a result, Fulop is now planning on pursuing a Master of Public Policy and a career working in the government.