Growing up in Kentucky, Adam Strong noticed that there were not enough social and economic supports for young people in rural communities like his. He set out to change this by pursuing a master's in public policy (MPP) from the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH.
Today, Strong works as a civic engagement liaison at Opportunity Youth United (OYUnited). OYUnited is a nonprofit based in California focused on mobilizing and organizing young leaders from low-income communities to advocate using their own policy recommendations to increase opportunity and decrease poverty in America. Strong helps these young people engage with lawmakers, advocating for themselves and others whose voices are often not heard. “Having someone that is traditionally underrepresented in the policy process is key to informing good policy,” says Strong.
Strong credits the Carsey School with teaching him how to think about issues from different perspectives. “If you really want to create a campaign that wins, you must know how to outmaneuver your opposition, and to do that, you have to understand how they think,” Strong explains.
This thinking, along with Strong’s work experience at OYUnited, has informed his capstone project, which is the culminating piece of his MPP degree. The focus of Strong’s capstone is the voter engagement plan he helped develop at OYUnited. Using skills gained through his strategy and communication courses, Strong worked with several youth-led community action teams in California to help them develop and implement voter engagement strategies, focusing on civic education, voter registration and voter turnout.
Eager to both launch a career and finish his degree, Strong says, “I looked for a job where I could do meaningful work while gaining real-world experience that would fulfill my capstone and internship requirements to graduate.”
As Strong nears graduation, he advises students to take good notes. “Carsey’s MPP program emphasizes practical skills at every level of the policy process, and you never know what roles you may fill in an organization afterwards,” says Strong. “My second piece of advice is more conventional. While you’re staying up late to study, don’t forget to have enough sleep to dream. I pictured myself in D.C. as I walked to class, and here I am. Where will you be?”