MSU students attend public policy, leadership conference at Harvard

Marisa Laudadio (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State University students who share a passion for public service are participating next week in the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government’s prestigious Public Policy and Leadership Conference.

Marisa G. Laudadio, a political science/pre-law and communication/public relations double-major from Walnut, is among 73 undergraduate students from around the country receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the Feb. 8-11 conference that aims to inspire pursuit of graduate programs, fellowships and careers in public service.

Laudadio will be accompanied by MSU political science and sociology double-major Emily L. Tingle of Vicksburg, who was selected in 2017 but unable to attend last year’s conference.

MSU Assistant Professor of Communication Holli Seitz said more than 800 students from 220 different colleges and universities applied this year, but only 73 students, including Laudadio, were selected. During the conference, Laudadio and Tingle will network and hear from Harvard students, faculty and staff during workshops on policy issues, career planning strategies, résumé building and leadership techniques.

Laudadio developed an interest in public service while working as a page in the Mississippi Senate during her junior year of high school.

“Growing up home-schooled in a rural area, I was convinced that a young girl from a small town in Northeast Mississippi would never be able to make a difference,” she said. “However, as a page, I saw farmers, teachers and preachers in powerful positions making decisions that impacted millions of lives across the state.”

That experience inspired Laudadio to pursue her undergraduate education at MSU, where she has explored her passion for civic engagement through active involvement in the Stennis Montgomery Association, No Lost Generation, Mississippi Votes and Mississippi Model Security Council organizations.

Emily Tingle (Photo by Russ Houston)

Along with serving as a communication assistant for MSU’s Office of Agricultural Communications, she enjoys conducting communication research from a social science perspective as Seitz’s undergraduate research assistant at the university’s Social Science Research Center.

“My work in the community through grassroots organizations, my undergraduate research on public opinion, and my passion for bridging the gap between the public and the government have prepared me to make a difference as a participant in the Harvard Kennedy School’s PPLC,” she said. “I would like to be able to share what I learn at the conference with leaders at Mississippi State to effect positive change on campus, in the community and around the state.”

Among other campus organizations, Tingle is an active member of the Stennis Montgomery Association, Mississippi Votes and National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She also is serving as the Student Association’s co-director of public relations for the 2017-18 academic year.

As a junior in high school, Tingle established “37 Books,” a foundation that has raised over $1,000 and collected more than 10,000 books for children’s shelters across the state.

“37 Books stands for the 3,700 children that were in the Mississippi foster care system when I founded the organization four years ago,” she said, adding that its success “proves that even the smallest contributions can have a lasting impact.”

After graduating from MSU, Tingle plans to attend law school and specialize in domestic law for child custody cases. Her dream is to help change legislation and advocate for all children, particularly those in impoverished areas of the rural South.

“Participating in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference will give me the opportunity to meet with peers from across the country who are interested in changing the world for the better,” she said.

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