Amherst Magazine

A Future in Public Service

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David Ullman '10 says his thesis helped him win a fellowship.

An interview with David Ullman ’10

David Ullman  will soon start a nine-month fellowship with the City of New York’s Urban Fellows Program. The program gives 25 recent graduates the opportunity to work in New York City government one-on-one with a high-level government official to explore issues facing the city and assist in the implementation of public policy.

How did you become interested in New York City urban policy?

During an internship with a good-government group in New York, I was introduced to a number of city policy issues. I explored one of those issues in my senior thesis in political science, “The Political Economy of Urban Congestion Pricing.” Congestion pricing— tolling a city’s central business district during peak hours—is widely acknowledged as the best way, and perhaps the only way, to reduce urban traffic. But it’s politically difficult. I used the Bloomberg administration’s experience two years ago as my case study discussing those difficulties. I think [the thesis] certainly helped me get the fellowship.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Obviously, public policy or public service work is not going to pay particularly well, especially for someone right out of college. And that’s OK. I hope to learn about the workings of city government and about the role of urban policy in New York. But my ideal of government is helping people. If I can, in some small way, improve the lives of fellow New Yorkers, the experience will be a positive one.

Photo by Samuel Masinter '04