Student Profile: Yasmeen Kaboud, MPA '19

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April 30, 2018

Yasmeen Kaboud, MPA '19, is a first-year submatriculant from Las Vegas, Nevada who is currently working on Eryn Santamoor's campaign for City Council. Before Fels, Yasmeen worked at an advocacy nonprofit and interned at Senator Catherine Cortez Masto's office in Washington D.C. In this interview, Yasmeen discusses her experience at Fels as well as her hopes for the future.


What did you do before coming to Fels?


Before Fels, I was an undergraduate here at Penn. My situation is somewhat uncommon in that I submatriculated into the program, which means that I was able to complete the first year of my MPA while still a senior (so, I am currently preparing to graduate with my B.A. in Political Science, which is very exciting). In terms of employment before Fels, I worked for a nonprofit here in Philadelphia for some time before going to Washington D.C., where I worked both at an advocacy nonprofit and in the U.S. Senate. Specifically, I worked in Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s office as a legislative intern who focused mostly on Senator Cortez Masto’s civil rights portfolio; I did a lot of research about immigration, gun rights, loan policy, and that sort of thing.


What made you want to get an MPA from Fels?


I wanted to get an MPA because I felt that my Political Science education at Penn, though really fulfilling, lacked a lot of tangible quantitative analysis and practicality. Overall, it was very theory based and made me want to learn more about a different side of the practice--things that were more applicable to the kinds of work that I wanted to do long-term. So, when the opportunity to apply to Fels as a submatriculant arose in my junior year of college, I knew that it was something that I couldn’t turn down. So far, it has turned out to be a great experience!


Did you always want to submatriculate?


I decided that I really did want to submatriculate around the end of my sophomore year, once I knew that it was a real option for me. Once I found out about it, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do. Not only was choosing to submatriculate a way to save time and money in the long-run, but I decided that it would also be a great way to augment my undergraduate education and put myself a step up when it comes to finding jobs after graduation. It’s a really great thing: not only do submatriculants have a half or entire master’s degree already completed when they and their undergrad peers graduate, but they’ve also gained so many more tangible, marketable skills.


How has your time at Fels been so far? Do you have a favorite course?


My time here at Fels has been great! I really love the people, especially. I think our class as a whole is wonderful. I have also really enjoyed all of my courses and I have definitely been learning a lot of those tangible skills that I’d been looking for. As for a favorite course, I would probably have to choose Buck Benedict’s public speaking class--it sort of turns into a group therapy session, which is really great. You get to know everyone in the class really well by hearing their stories, and you learn a lot about the really diverse experiences and cultures that exist not only at Fels, but university-wide at Penn. It is a really fascinating experience to be in class with so many people, all sharing their stories with you.


Do you have a favorite part of the Fels experience?


Yes, I do. The staff at Fels makes a real effort to bring in practitioners of the kinds of things that people in the program want to learn about, so there is never a shortage of people to meet who actually work in city governments, the federal government, the nonprofit world, or other any other sector that you’d like to get experience in. There is also no shortage of alumni to meet and connections to make, which is really great for us, educationally and professionally.


Are you involved in any groups at Fels?


Yes. I am a board member of the FSA (the Fels Student Association). My experience on the board has been great. I love everyone on it and am really proud of events we were able to put on this semester--they’ve been great. I think we brought some nice new events to the student body and were able to successfully continue some great popular events from the past, as well. These included things such as networking club and the “Can we talk?” series. We also made some great events happen here at the end of the year, and have a lot already planned for next semester. Again, it has been a really great experience so far.


After Fels, what sort of work would you like to do?


Currently, I am working on Eryn Santamoor’s campaign for city council, which has been an awesome experience. This summer, I will be working in campaign research and consulting. Because of these and some other related experiences that I have had in the past, I think I’d like to work on campaigns for awhile after Fels. I really love campaigning, and it’s the kind of thing that you can only really do when you are young and can afford to not get paid very much, travel the country, and live on someone else’s sofa. So, I sort of want to do that for a few years just to get the experience. Eventually, though, I would really like to get into some kind of policy analysis advocacy work.


Is there anything else that you'd like to share?


I just want to repeat one thing: I really love everyone at Fels. All of my student peers are great, all of the staff are amazing, and everyone is just really, really awesome. While my Fels educational experience has been great on its own merits, the amazing people that I have been able to interact with while here have so far made this experience absolutely unforgettable.

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Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

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