English Student Set to Attend UVA's Public Policy Graduate Program


SUMMARY: Evan Weaver, English major, is set to graduate this May and attend the University of Virginia's Public Policy Master's program in August. He talked with English intern, Kat Mauser, about his time at JMU and his post-graduation plans.

Evan Weaver, a senior English major, was recently accepted into UVA’s Master of Public Policy program. He will graduate from JMU this May and will begin his master’s program at UVA in August. He found out about this program through its partnership with the Honors College at JMU, and is excited to begin his time in Charlottesville.

Q: What major and minors will you graduate with?

Weaver: [I’ll graduate with a] Bachelors of Arts in English. I have one minor, [which] is through the Honors College — Interdisciplinary Honors Studies — and then I have a minor in math.

I started in computer science [as a major]. I did three semesters of computer science and physics, so I had so many math credits that I just figured, why not go to the math minor?


Q: Can you tell me a little bit about UVA’s Master of Public Policy program?

Weaver: It's a two-year program at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. It's a lot of economics, a lot of political science courses, and things like that. And there's an internship requirement that I think I do between year one and year two. A lot of graduates typically go into public sector and federal agency work, or consulting, or think tanks, and things like that.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduating from this program?

Weaver: I'm a little undecided at this point. In my application essays I talked about science and technology — like innovation, regulation, climate change, advocacy work and stuff like that. I was talking about some social equity programs [and] policies surrounding that … I want to definitely do federal agency work, or work at the state level, or something like that.

Q:What’s been your favorite part about the JMU English program thus far?

Weaver: Definitely the professors. The professors are great and super accessible. Gen Ed English classes [are] one thing, but upper level English classes —  I love being in a room full of English majors who care about talking about books and poems and things, and hearing what other kids have to say.

Definitely also learning how to write. I came into college thinking I was a decent writer, but I've learned a lot about writing since going through the English program.

Q: What specific things about the JMU English program have prepared you for this program?

Weaver: Definitely writing skills. I went to this admitted students day at UVA and one of the things [a presenter] said [was that] a lot of people could be better writers in policy and in government. So definitely learning how to write and [using] critical thinking skills to understand problems.

Q: What is your favorite English class you’ve ever taken at JMU?

Weaver: I really did like the romanticism [class]. I [also] took one of my Gen Ed poetry [classes] … I really did like that class … I was the only English major but I really liked that class.

Q: What drew you to pursue Public Policy?

Weaver: The Batten School has a partnership with the Honors College, [which was] how I first became aware of the program. I was already thinking about doing law at the time, so I took the LSAT and everything, and then I eventually decided I just didn't want to be an attorney. But, I definitely wanted to work in government in some capacity. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the partnership between the program, [is] that's how I managed to get a fellowship. They had a guaranteed minimum fellowship if you applied [as] an alumni of the Honors College, so it seemed like a really good opportunity. I went to an interest meeting … and it seemed like a really interesting area to go into. I don't think I ever came to JMU with the idea that I'd be doing this, but things sort of fall into place. And I'm pretty pleased about it.

Q: What advice would you give a JMU student considering the same, or a similar, career path?

Weaver: Don't overlook the skills that you're learning in the English program. They're definitely valuable skills. They might not necessarily be easy to put on a resume or talk about or that sort of thing, but just because you're in the humanities doesn't mean that you're totally barred from doing stuff … the skills that you're learning in the English department are definitely worthwhile, so don't sell yourself short.

Q: Why should people care about JMU English?

Weaver: I loved it. I definitely had a good experience. I came in to JMU and was a computer science major, and then I switched to Physics. At no point during the application process did I even consider being an English major — it just sort of happened … There's a lot of really good skills that you learn. If you like reading, you definitely fit in and get something out of the English program … I think the people are definitely what makes the program special — the professors and other students in it. That's why I really enjoyed my time.”

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by Kat Mauser

Published: Friday, May 3, 2024

Last Updated: Friday, May 3, 2024

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