‘At the start of her freshman year, Emily Pape was feeling a little unsure in her footing. With so many factors to consider about a good person-to-college fit and choosing an area of study, feeling confident in her decisions was difficult and some second thoughts had started to settle in. Had she made the right choice?
Having grown up in Boise, the prospect of attending Boise State had been on her radar for quite some time. Already well-acquainted with the campus community, interested in the opportunities for an enriched educational experience through the Honors College, and offered strong financial aid upon acceptance to Boise State, eighteen-year-old Emily chose the comfort of a familiar university close to home.
As a long-time fan of the long running American political drama television series, The West Wing, the idea of becoming a speech writer excited Emily in high school and so, when posed with the opportunity to choose her area of study, she set out to double-major in Political Science and English. And yet, within in a few months of classes, she couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. It was time to broaden her horizons.
“It started to feel like, for me, focusing on political science was a little too siloed,” says Pape, “Thinking about the econ side of things and how sociology interplays with the subjects I care about felt like where things really sparked.”
When she heard about Global Studies, which was a new degree at the time offered through the School of Public Service (SPS), the interdisciplinary nature of the program and chance to take a variety of different classes from a spectrum of different disciplines without having to create her own degree certainly appealed to her.
Upon making the change, things started to click and doors to opportunities excited her began to open up.
“I had the opportunities to take classes across campus, whether it was in the economics department or world languages or political science, and in being exposed to these very different fields, I had the opportunity to realize that most questions or problems our world is facing can be resolved by one approach or discipline,” says Pape, “Global Studies forced me to think of problems in a very interdisciplinary way and take a more pragmatic approach to problem solving.”
Like many other students in the School of Public Service who are encouraged to study abroad, Emily chose to explore the world and immerse herself in rich cultural experiences while taking classes that counted towards her degree in Spain and England during the summer following her Freshman year.
Those experiences reinvigorated her passion for her studies and upon returning to Boise, she noticed that things felt different. Not only was she connecting better with the areas of study that she was passionate about, but she was also finding her community and an emerging sense of self-confidence.
“My time studying abroad and importantly some of the experiences with the Honors College and my lacrosse team were really foundational to me finding my people,” says Pape, “Eventually, I was like ‘Okay, this is how college is supposed to feel’.”
For the first time, Boise State’s campus felt like home. And while Boise State was her new bedrock, she began to recognize the paths forward available to her that extended beyond her hometown.
The School of Public Service supported Emily in her academic planning and professional development with services from professional and academic advisors and faculty mentors. Plus, with hands-on and experiential learning initiatives, the School of Public Service helped her reach beyond the four walls of a classroom, giving her the chance to apply theories and concepts she was learning in classes to the real world.
“The school of Public service really directed me in how I can turn my commitment to my community into a profession,” says Pape.
Some memorable highlights of her out-of-class experiences included interning at Hilltop Political Solutions, a local political consulting firm, and then later working in the governor’s office as a staff assistant, which gave her a unique perspective on how the state of Idaho functions at both a political and administrative level.
A happy surprise for Emily was the amount of time she had to directly interface with her professors. The close relationships she cultivated yielded some incredible opportunities to get involved with research as an undergrad, something that she’s convinced wouldn’t have been as easy to come by at another school.
In her research, faculty helped her discover what she really cares about: public policy. And while her capstone project was initially intimidating in scope, close guidance and attention from faculty helped her break things into manageable bites so that she could feel good about what she accomplished.
“In the end, I was proud to say that, in good faith, I got this answer, and I feel really good about the process I used,” says Pape.
Coming up on two years post-graduation, Boise State almun Emily applies the skills she learned from her degree in Global Studies as a current research associate at the Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and as a Senior Associate and Research lead, working with Kallander & Associates, an Alaska-based firm, exploring the intersection of healthy communities, sustainable environments, and responsible development. Emily aims to continue advancing climate change solutions in energy and environmental policy, with improved public communication about climate change challenges and solutions.
“The student focus of the School of Public Service is always to empower students to become relevant, innovative, responsive and empathetic leaders”
Andy Giacomazzi, Associate Dean of the School of Public Service
The School of Public Service is dedicated to excellence in innovative teaching, cutting-edge scholarship and meaningful community outreach, serving the State of Idaho, region, nation and global communities. Areas of study include in SPS traditional undergraduate majors, like Political Science and Criminal Justice, as well as increasingly popular, recent additions like Environmental Studies, Global Studies, and Urban Studies and Community Development.
To learn more, visit the School of Pubic Services website.