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Jan. 8: Carnegie Mellon Junior Selected For First Federal Service Student Ambassador Program


Abby Houck                      

Carnegie Mellon Junior Selected For First
Federal Service Student Ambassador Program

PITTSBURGH—Nia Austin, a junior cognitive science major in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, is one of 15 students across the country participating in the Partnership for Public Service's first Federal Service Student Ambassador Program.
The Partnership for Public Service, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, works to help the federal government by inspiring young students to serve and by transforming the way government works.
"The partnership has learned from our research that students in college are generally interested in working for the federal government, but lack the knowledge to actually find and apply for those jobs and internships," said Caroline Pettit, associate manager of education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service. "We also learned that students look to their peers for advice and assistance throughout the job-search process. This program is designed to increase interest in federal service on college campuses through developing a corps of passionate student advocates who will actively promote federal service."
Last summer, Austin completed a co-op within the federal government's intelligence community and applied for the Student Ambassador Program. She recognized that many other qualified students in the Pittsburgh area would find federal service both challenging and rewarding.
The Partnership for Public Service held a two-day training session for student ambassadors prior to the beginning of the academic year. Since then, Austin has held focus groups at Carnegie Mellon and made presentations to career-oriented student organizations.
"There has been a tremendous amount of interest across campus," Austin said. "Once students realize that government jobs aren't only for political science majors, they get excited about these challenging and meaningful career options. With over 160 federal agencies, there's a place in the government for any college major."
Throughout the year, ambassadors are discussing their progress and challenges in monthly Web conferences. They will meet again at the organization's headquarters in July to train the next group of student ambassadors.
Austin also plans to return to the nation's capital this summer to continue her co-op role. She hopes to translate her experience into a full-time federal service career in psychology, language or linguistics. "My co-op and the Student Ambassador Program have shaped my academic focus and guided me to what I want to do," she said.    
Austin's next event as a student ambassador will be assisting at a ceremony honoring the Partnership for Public Service's Citizen Services to America Medal winner Dr. Rajiv Jain, chief of staff and MRSA program director for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Jain will be recognized for developing and leading an initiative that reduced a type of life-threatening, hospital-acquired infection. The initiative has been replicated at all 153 VA hospitals and other healthcare facilities worldwide. The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, in Rangos Hall on the second floor of Carnegie Mellon's University Center.