Marie Lofty Student Feature
Marie Lofty may only be entering her junior year in the fall at Open High School, but she is well-entrenched in a path to policy. A participant in Policy Pathways’ 2023 Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online (SAO), Marie is pursuing every available avenue to changemaking she can find.
Her policy interests are based on the communities she wants to help. That includes the unhoused population, migrant communities, and low-income communities. “From there,” she says, “my biggest public policy topics are immigration, reproductive rights, and the housing crisis itself; things that tug at my heart a bit which I want to advocate for.” The Summer Academy certainly provides the background, conversation, and insight to these and a myriad of other policy challenges today’s youth are inheriting. She says of SAO, “I really appreciate the opportunity to understand public policy at a deeper level. It’s definitely providing a bunch of ways to build networks in policy outside of school through SAO professors and classmates.”
Marie is part of the Capstone project entitled Economic Policy Effect on Francophone Countries in West Africa: The Palm Oil Industry in Benin. She likes that it is a lesser-known topic but no less important or multifaceted for it. She is learning of France’s interaction with former colonies, Benin GDP, and the day-to-day of low-income women harvesting, refining, and preparing palm oil. You can view her team’s Capstone presentation on the Programs page of our website!
Immediately after SAO, Marie is attending the Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute for a week at the University of Richmond. She is excited to spark a possible passion in law, which would influence her undergraduate prospects. Another field of interest for her is urban planning. She recently participated in a City Builders architecture program.
“We learned about different sectors of architecture and how you go about doing it. They had us re-envision a specific place in Richmond, the Coliseum downtown. There were different categories we could take on: commercial, housing, or transportation-based. I chose housing, but personally, I don’t think housing is the best way to re-envision that space.”
Through an after school program with Storefront for Community Design, Marie also worked on a project to revamp the 6th Street Market. “We re-envisioned it as a commercial space, with a patio for seating, food trucks, restaurants, shops.” She so enjoys this trade that she will be shadowing at an architecture firm next month!
Marie is deeply interested in studying abroad in high school or college as well. Top destinations on her list are Morocco, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, or France. Having attended Policy Pathways and partners’ Pathways to LIFE Abroad Global Education and Global Careers Fair in May, many programs have jumped out at her as possibilities, particularly summer and school-year sessions.
“I learned about networking and putting yourself out there,” she says of the fair. “It was helpful to learn from Dr. Houssou, who is from Benin, and how he was able to find a community wherever he went. That was something that was inspiring. In my travels I hope to easily move throughout communities and find some people I connect with wherever I go.”
Marie is looking toward universities and colleges that speak to these future plans. Top contenders are Spelman College and William & Mary College, as they fulfill her four requisites: study abroad opportunity, potential majors, diverse campus atmosphere, and Greek life. She wishes to major in political science, urban planning, public policy, and/or international affairs. UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Princeton are also potential schools for her.
Policy Pathways was delighted to have Marie in the Summer Academy Online; we look forward to monitoring and aiding her progress through the phases of a public policy career!