Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: James-Michael Laney

jameshmppMany of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: James-Michael Laney

Ideal Job Location: Lansing; Mid-Michigan

Ideal Job: “After graduation, I would like to work in a consulting role for nonprofit organizations that interact with state or local government agencies,” James says. He is also considering using his skills and experiences to become a policy analyst.

Eventually, James would like to run for elected office or start his own organization. In any role, he hopes to use the analytical abilities and policy knowledge he has learned in the MPP program to teach others and improve policymaking.

Work Experience: In the summer of 2016, James participated in the InnovateGov internship program. As an intern for the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness, he led a project to design and implement a program to improve service delivery and promote residents’ social, mental, and physical well-being. His research was important to the development of a business plan, which he and his fellow interns presented to the department’s director. Their plan included recommendations and suggestions that will assist the county in its ongoing efforts to address wellness issues.

James’s experience inspired him to explore this topic further for his MPP capstone project, for which he examined the program’s design and progress and proposed improvements.

James has also learned policy skills and gained legislative experience as an intern for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Academic Training: During his time in the MPP program, James completed the three-course series in Quantitative Methods.

“I learned how to apply different econometric tools and identify significant patterns in datasets of information.”

Additional courses of interest were State and Local Finance and Public Management; both sections of the 891 policy topics series. These courses helped James learn important concepts that have significant impacts on decision-making and policy implementation. He also explored courses related to the policy program during Grant Writing and Fund Development.

James was originally inspired to study public policy because he wanted to understand how to empower citizens in ways that can affect change. His own observations of politics and policy during his time in his biomathematics undergraduate program prompted him to explore a diverse range of related issues. He also credits the novels of Frank Herbert with inspiring him to think about the long-term importance of policies and the influence of the nature and the environment on the formation of societies and political power.

James’s appreciation for the interconnectedness of policy issues will serve him well in any position he holds. Because of this he seeks opportunities that will lead to more.

James concludes, “I want to always work in a role that allows me to learn and share what I’ve learned with others.”

Hire An MPP, Student Profiles

Hire An MPP: Xiao Niu


Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: Xiao Niu

Ideal Job Location: United States

Ideal Job: Xiao would enjoy working at a think tank or consulting firm because his ultimate goal is to perform timely research and give sound advice to enable policy makers to make good decisions. He is also interested in applying his skills to a policy research project, as he does at his current internship.

His studies and skill set enable him to do thorough policy work in a variety of topic areas, but he is especially interested in economic development strategies and higher education policy.

Work Experience: Currently, Xiao is completing an internship with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He is researching and writing a thorough literature review, performing data analysis, and conducting interviews for a project focused on dual enrollment policies. Dual enrollment programs allow high students to enroll in college-level courses that are often transferable to four-year institutions at no cost. This is also the topic of his upcoming MPP capstone project.

“This experience gives me a chance to improve my research skills as well as communication skills,” he says.

Skills and Academic Training:

Xiao has enjoyed the MPP program immensely. He notes that policy intrigues him because society and its needs are always evolving. He also appreciates the rigor required to perform sound, complex policy research.

The most valuable part of the MPP program for Xiao was the opportunity to engage and learn with classmates. He explains, “Your classmates are part of your education. We learn from each other, and realize that there are so many other perspectives on the same issue.”

For this reason, he has most enjoyed courses that involve discussion. This reflects his interest in the way policy findings and advice can be communicated to policymakers.

“In the near future, I want to learn from working. I want to learn more research techniques, learn more about the world and society, and learn more about myself. Then I may come back to the school to pursue a PhD.”

Xiao concludes, “My ultimate career goal is to become a successful policy researcher, whose insight and research could influence critical decisions.”

Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They’ll Go: Vinny Szczerowski

Northern Strategies 360 photo (2)

Vinny Szczerowski is a linked-student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program who will complete his degree in 2017. Being a linked student, Vinny graduated in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy while concurrently working on his master’s degree.

Vinny has spent this summer interning at Northern Strategies 360. Located in Traverse City, Michigan, Northern Strategies 360 offers consulting services to clients throughout Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The mission of the firm is to provide strategic, pragmatic, results-driven consulting services to their clients with a focus on business and economic development and governmental affairs.  According to Vinny, what sets Northern Strategies 360 apart from other consulting firms is their desire to form a close relationship with their clients to effectively and efficiently act as a liaison between business and government.  Being the first of its kind in Northern Michigan, he was especially enthused about working for the firm.  Vinny was born and raised in the small town of Hawks in Northern Michigan and has seen firsthand the difficulties businesses and other entities face when trying to procure adequate representation for government affairs.  Northern Strategies 360 offers this close-to-home representation for any interested clients.

With his interest in health policy, Vinny has been primarily working on projects directly related to the Munson Healthcare System.  As the firm’s biggest client, Munson Healthcare is a nonprofit rural regional health system made up of nine community hospitals that deliver a broad array of healthcare services to the nearly 500,000 residents of 24 counties across the 11,000 square miles of rural Northern Michigan.  Some projects that Vinny has been working for them include crafting advocacy updates on current legislation pending at the state and national level that directly affect the system, writing policy briefs on specific proposals already enacted and how they will impact the hospital network, and communicating with local, state, and federal lawmakers on behalf of Munson Healthcare.  Two major projects he has focused on involve constructing whitepapers on veterans’ access to healthcare services in Northern Michigan and the status and trends of educational attainment levels for nurses.  While the nursing paper is still being formulated, the veterans’ access to healthcare piece has been presented to and referenced by the CEO of the Munson Healthcare System when addressing local interest groups.

Through his internship, Vinny has learned that healthcare policy is even more nuanced than he had previously thought.  One rule set forth by a state or federal agency can have enormous ramifications on the operations of a hospital or healthcare system.  Going forward, he believes this lesson will greatly help in his pursuit of working within a healthcare system as a government affairs liaison or consultant.