Passion for policy

10 July 2018

Master of Public Policy graduate Ella Weisbrot leaves Crawford School with an impressive resume and an appetite for change.

By the time Ella Weisbrot arrived at Crawford School from Sydney, she was already armed with a record of volunteering and community activism. The Bachelor of International and Global Studies graduate had already spent a year on exchange in Tokyo, and worked for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

But there were still so many things she wanted to learn.

“For example I never got to study economics, but when you get involved in political matters, it becomes obvious that’s such a big part of how our country and the world is run,” Ella says.

When it came to choosing a Masters degree, she didn’t hesitate, especially when she won the Claire Clark Scholarship to study at ANU.

“I knew I wanted to study public policy and I really liked the look of the degree,” Ella recalls. “And really, where else but Canberra and ANU?”

Since then, Ella has been fully immersed in the Crawford School experience, with a degree program more remarkable for its extra-curricular activities than her selection of courses. In just two years, Ella has done an internship with the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, completed research projects for three Crawford academics, and participated in the Australian National Internships Program (ANIP).

“I’ve had this amazing opportunity to works for these world-class academics and see what an academic research process is like,” Ella says.

As a research assistant at Crawford School, she worked on public policy projects as varied as the sustainability of coastal communities, accountability in semi-independent government entities, and the involvement of citizens in the policy process. But it was Ella’s ANIP internship that really aroused her passion for change through well informed and constructed policy.

“I spent a semester in the office of Senator Lisa Singh, where I researched Australian Aid’s investment in family planning in the Pacific islands,” Ella says.

“I found that very little is invested, and yet it is such a powerful development intervention, such an important way of empowering women and improving every other socio-economic outcome.”

To top it all off, Ella graduates this month as the co-winner of the Master of Public Policy Prize for the top student in her degree program. But she is already wistful about leaving Crawford School and Canberra.

“I really loved all of it, the faculty is amazing – we really got to know our lecturers – everyone’s been so supportive and interested in us,” Ella says.

“The biggest thing I’m taking away is so many good connections. I now have friends from everywhere, and they’ve changed my perspective because I’ve learned from people who come from very different contexts. It’s a fairly small, postgraduate-only school and yet it has the best minds in public policy from all over the world.

“It’s a real community. I can’t recommend it more highly.

“And I love Canberra. I’m actually sad about moving back because I’m a really outdoorsy person and Canberra is just so good for hiking and swimming, surrounded by parks and reserves everywhere. This is a great place for quality of life.”

Never quite satisfied with her growing resume of achievements, Ella is now off to work as an Analyst with boutique Sydney consulting firm AlphaBeta Advisors.

“I’m looking forward to extending my skills in economic and quantitative analysis. It’s a really exciting opportunity to keep learning new things but also to apply the skills I’ve learned at Crawford.”

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