Master of public policy student looks forward to graduation, launching career

Katie Moats
March 29, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Jon Ortiz was studying criminology as an undergraduate, he knew two things: he wanted to go to graduate school, and he eventually wanted to work in law enforcement administration. Those aspirations led him to Penn State’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program.

“I felt that understanding public policy evaluation and implementation would be instrumental for my career aspirations,” Ortiz said. “After I graduate, I want to start working for either the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice in an administrative capacity or as a law enforcement officer.”

To best prepare for life after graduation, Ortiz has been interning with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In this role, he has been responsible for filing correspondence, reading and writing reports, and completing field-level research. Ortiz said he enjoys the work and appreciates what he has been able to learn in the field.

“I enjoy the administrators that I report to; they make it a point to expose me to different administrative levels of the federal government,” he said. “The executive team has helped me analyze from start to finish how a department submits budget proposals and then appropriately allocates them to all their offices in order to meet our agency’s expectations and be intentional about not abusing taxpayer money.”

Ortiz has used this experience to help mold his capstone project: the creation of a Midwest Fisheries Center standard operating procedures manual that will eventually serve as an administrative reference for employees of the center. Ortiz credits the MPP program for helping him understand the nuances of policy and administration and for enhancing his critical thinking skills.

“Thanks to Penn State, I’ve developed a strong understanding of the importance of using critical thinking and analytical skills to solve problems,” he explained. “Problems not only with our criminal justice system, but all around us. I’ve learned to look for challenging situations, insert myself into them, and help fix them. I genuinely believe that Penn State prepares students to be the solution and not the problem.”

Ortiz also believes that being an MPP student has taught him to look at problems practically and not make assumptions when evaluating an issue – skills he believes will help him greatly in law enforcement administration.

“It’s easy to form an opinion based on a newspaper headline – many times, people stop there,” Ortiz said. “The Master of Public Policy program and the College of the Liberal Arts have taught me practical ways to solve problems and propose them in an inclusive way for everyone to understand.”

Ortiz remains thankful to his criminology and MPP professors for educating him on the power that policy research can hold. For others who will soon be graduating and embarking on their careers, he believes that the best approach to overcome potential disappointments and setbacks is to trust that Penn State professors have equipped you with the best tools to be successful.

“Understand that when learning about your career field, you will inevitably find the flaws and limitations of your set career,” he said. “Although this might be overwhelming, know that the professors are equipping you with the knowledge and skills to fix it.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 29, 2021