Building a public service career toolbox

Cynthia Geurrero ‘22, heading to the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy for the summer of 2021

A first-generation student from Chicago, Cynthia Guerrero ‘22 is “deeply passionate about access to higher education” — especially for traditionally marginalized students. Guerrero’s long-term goal of working in public and education policy edged a step closer when she was accepted into the Junior Summer Institute at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

The program is presented by the Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) program, a fully funded graduate-level program specifically for college juniors who are committed to public service careers. That’s what Guerrero is all about.

“After Denison, I want to work for non-profit organizations with higher education initiatives while working directly with students and executing administrative work,” she says. Guerrero is laser-focused on making a difference for students who identify as first-generation, Black, Indigenous, DACA, and students of color.

Guerrero will spend the summer sharpening her knowledge in policy and leadership — and a lot more. “We learn statistics, economics, and policy modules at a graduate school level while having the opportunity to apply them through policy memos and presentations.” She adds, “I also really appreciate their focus on social policy.”

She understands the need for strong oral communication skills, as well. “I want to read, write, and understand policy, but also to explain and communicate it with others. With this, I want to gain tools that will help make understanding policies also accessible to others.”

And that’s not all. Guerrero will join a 4,000-member strong alumni network that will provide mentoring and career development. And PPIA alumni can receive financial support for graduate school education if they attend a program in the PPIA Graduate School Consortium.

Anthropology/sociology provides the foundation

An anthropology/sociology major, Guerrero remembers the light bulb moment when she knew she had found her academic home. She took an ANSO course titled ‘Social Stratification: Race, Class, Gender.’ “I looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday because I knew I would learn something new while having great discussions.”

The class was self-revelatory. “It exposed me to educational inequalities and theories that helped explain my own experiences while teaching me about bits of the U.S. education systems.”

“With anthropology and sociology,” she says, “there is always something to unpack, analyze, critique, or explore. I really enjoy learning and discussing theory in class because it helps me understand the world around me and why/how society works the way it does.”

“I am able to apply what I learn in class to my everyday life. Whether there is a problem, conversation with a friend, TV show, or large issue in question, ANSO has prepared me to think deeper and through a sociological or anthropological lens.”


Cynthia Guerrero ‘22, from Chicago, is a first-generation American and college student - both of her parents immigrated from Mexico. She describes herself as collaborative, creative, and visionary.

Guerrero attended Gurdon S. Hubbard High School and was a member of the IB programme, the National Honors Society, the Metztli Youth Leadership, and the Tomorrow’s Legacy Club. She was on the varsity swim and water polo teams and served as senior class secretary.

Guerrero majors in anthropology/sociology and minors in Spanish with a concentration in Latin American Caribbean Studies. She is the alumni relations chair of the First Generation Network, a tutor for anth/soc and a research assistant, as well as a member of La Fuerza Latina. Guerrero is an operations intern for Chicago Scholars and participates in Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America’s (LEDA) Policy Project.

March 2, 2021