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USC Price grads receive Clinton-Orfalea Fellowships

Master of Public Policy graduates Kerem Yilmaz and Kathryn Urquhart
Master of Public Policy graduates Kerem Yilmaz and Kathryn Urquhart will work for the Clinton Climate Initiative. (Photo/Tom Queally)

Three USC Price School of Public Policy graduates will spend their upcoming year working toward a healthier future for people and the planet thanks to the Clinton-Orfalea Fellowships.

Since 2007, the fellowships provide opportunities for recent graduates from USC Price, the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Gould School of Law to work for the New York-based William J. Clinton Foundation while receiving stipends from the Orfalea Foundation. The Clinton Foundation addresses issues of global climate change, HIV and AIDS in the developing world, childhood obesity, and economic opportunity and development. The Orfalea Foundation is a nonprofit that funds educational and youth-oriented programs.

Allison Kwan, a Master of Public Policy graduate, will apply her talents to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. A partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, the organization aims to eliminate childhood obesity and help young people develop healthy habits.

“I’m interested in childhood obesity issues,” Kwan said. “And I figured it would a great way for me to gain some nonprofit experience in this area and see what type of work they’re doing at the Clinton Foundation. They have a multisectoral approach to childhood obesity issues, which is incredibly important.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, Kwan worked as a paralegal for the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

She began developing an interest in food policy, which led her to attend graduate school at USC Price. She turned her attention to childhood obesity issues after a “Foundations of Public Policy Analysis” course at USC and an internship at San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency.

“My long-term career goal would be a position where I could influence policy change —a general mind shift as to how you approach obesity education and how you combat obesity,” Kwan said. “For me, one of the more interesting things is how you change the environment so people can be healthier.”

Kerem Yilmaz, who received a Master of Public Policy degree, will work for the Clinton Climate Initiative, which is currently partnering with the C40 Climate Leadership Group to help large cities reduce their carbon emissions. The initiative’s multiple programs aim to advance solutions to climate change, such as increasing energy efficiency through building retrofits, providing better access to clean energy technology, and preserving and regrowing forests.

“The Clinton Climate Initiative will give me a well-rounded lens to look at the world and a tremendous opportunity to gain a different perspective along these issue areas,” Yilmaz said.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in the political economy of industrial societies from the University of California, Berkeley, Yilmaz worked in management and information technology consulting. He pursued his graduate degree at USC Price with the goal of becoming an agent for change.

“The Price School has been an amazing experience, and a nurturing and fostering environment,” he said. “It really propelled me to become the leader that I hoped to become, to take a stand and to feel like I can make a difference in the world. So it’s been a perfect fit.”

Master of Public Policy graduate Kathryn Urquhart will also work for the Clinton Climate Initiative. She first developed her passion for climate, energy and environmental policy as a political science major at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“I took an environmental studies class that went over the politics of energy and climate policy, and the challenges,” she said. “It was something that really ignited my passion. I just thought that climate change was something that was important to solve, and I wanted to be involved in it.”

Two days after receiving her bachelor’s degree, she packed her bags and flew to Washington, D.C., where she interned for the U.S. Department of Energy in the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy. She spent the following year in Los Angeles, working for a startup that arranged conferences for green businesses. She then served as a research fellow and political associate at former Vice President Al Gore’s nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Urquhart headed to graduate school at USC Price to strengthen her quantitative skills, which she believes will come in handy in her new position.

“Who knows if this opportunity would have been available to me had I not gone to [USC] Price,” she said. “They work hard for all of us to get these fellowships, so I really appreciate that.”

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USC Price grads receive Clinton-Orfalea Fellowships

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