Gustavus Junior Accepted into Public Service Fellowship ProgramPolitical science major Christopher Ortiz will attend the academic program at the University of Michigan this summer.
Posted on February 22nd, 2021 by

When Gustavus Adolphus College junior Christopher Ortiz was writing his application for the Junior Summer Institute Fellowship (JSI) Program at the University of Michigan he thought it was a long shot.

Junior political science major Chris Ortiz.

“Imposter Syndrome,” he explained.

But that made him getting accepted to study Public Policy and International Affairs this summer even sweeter. The program is described as “an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public policy and international affairs.”

The political science major from Los Angeles, Calif. said it was his family that got him interested in politics.

“They’ve always talked about presidents, policies, and stuff like that. I just gained interest in it,” Ortiz said.

The program is an intense academic preparation program for undergraduate students who want to go into public service careers that prepares them for a master’s degree. It was started to address the lack of diversity in public service and related fields.

Ortiz didn’t think of himself as a good applicant, but luckily his adviser, political science professor Mimi Gerstbauer, did.

“My adviser forwarded the opportunity to me and said ‘Hey, I think you’d be interested in this,’” Ortiz said.

“Chris has been very purposeful in asking for advice about how best to prepare for a career in global affairs, what kinds of internships to pursue, and more. He seemed like a perfect candidate for the Public Policy International Affairs Junior Summer Institute with his interest in a career in international affairs and public service,” Gerstbauer said.

Ortiz also credits his professors in the political science department for helping to prepare him for the program in general.

“Coming in, I knew I wanted to study political science but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took a mixture of classes and that helped me form my own opinions and made me question why I believe what I believe,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz says his career plans are still relatively undecided but he knows he would like to do something with international affairs or policy.

“Specifically what I want to do with that could go a lot of ways,” Ortiz said. “There are just so many options.”

For right now, he’s just excited to be spending the months of June and July in Michigan taking classes.

“I’m most excited for the opportunity to explore more at the graduate level, and learn what my future work in international affairs might look like,” Ortiz said.

Gerstbauer knows Ortiz is capable of this after seeing what he was able to do under trying circumstances.

“We both were outside the U.S. last spring when COVID forced us to cut our experiences short, but Chris went back to Los Angeles and found ways to give back to his community,” Gerstbauer said. “It is no small effort to put yourself out there and apply for competitive opportunities. Chris is so deserving of this, and I believe it can be a great opportunity for him in discerning the next steps of his journey.”

As for advice, Ortiz is a believer in fighting through imposter syndrome and applying for opportunities you don’t think you’re good enough for.

“A lot of people, including myself, should have more confidence in themselves. You can achieve something you think is out of reach,” Ortiz said. “Just try it.”

For more information about the Gustavus Fellowships Office and the support it gives to students, please visit the fellowship website.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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