Efren Gomez (MPP '20) worked at Governor Whitmer’s Office as a Research and Policy Fellow. He supported the work of Policy Director Emily Laidlaw and Ford alumna Brandy Johnson (MPP '09), policy advisor in postsecondary education and workforce development. During his time in Lansing, Efren supported Governor Whitmer's 60 by 30 initiative, a signature policy that aimed to increase the post-secondary educational attainment of sixty percent of Michiganders by the year 2030. To achieve this, the administration supported the creation of MI Opportunity and MI Reconnect, which are last-dollar scholarships that will provide tuition-free community college for state residents.
Efren was excited to go to work every day, knowing that his role could inform state policy. He spent most of his summer assessing and designing policies that aimed to improve academic equity. Working for the executive office was a tremendous opportunity that allowed him to apply writing and quantitative skills developed at the Ford School. One of the most remarkable experiences of his internship was during a lunch meeting with Governor Whitmer when she looked at him and said, "I read your memo this morning, great work!"
Even when outside of the classroom, faculty members from Ford continue to be present in Efren’s day-to-day work. For instance, in his first week as an intern, he attended a meeting with Dr. Susan Dynarski to set a research agenda on education policy, particularly related to FAFSA completion rates in Michigan. He also used the work of Dr. Brian Jacob to evaluate policies related to the Michigan Merit Curriculum.