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Cortney Sanders wins Michigan Difference graduate student leadership award

March 31, 2017

On March 29, Cortney Sanders (MPP ’17) won the Michigan Difference Student Leadership Award for “Graduate Student of the Year” in recognition of her outstanding achievements in academics, leadership, and service.

Sanders is a second-year MPP student at the Ford School and an alumna of the Ford School's Public Policy and International Affairs program. At the Michigan Difference awards ceremony, Sanders was described as someone who believes deeply in living her values:

"As a first generation college student, [Cortney] has been actively involved in the First Gen group here at Michigan, bravely sharing her journey to and through college to encourage other students in a similar situation to persist. Cortney has helped with recruiting outreach to prospective public policy students as the outreach chair for the Pipeline Initiative, which pairs prospective students with current students to mentor them through the application process. She also chairs the Students of Color in Public Policy organization. For her independent study, she’s analyzing how unemployment insurance fails African Americans, bringing nuance and heart to the topic. She recently published a compelling op-ed in the Detroit News and has been an eloquent spokesperson for minority students serving on the Student Advisory Board for Equity and Inclusion. She has worked tirelessly to find new ways to include minorities in the university’s program and curriculum, while also managing a team of researchers focused on field experiments in poverty research."

As an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin, Sanders employed her leadership skills to file an amicus brief with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the Black Student Alliance in the Fisher vs. The University of Texas Supreme Court case. As a JJ “Jake” Pickle Junior Analyst, Sanders conducted independent research on the evolution of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She presented her independent research at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago and, later, interned for the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Education and Workforce and traveled to Accura-Ghana (Africa) for economic development work.

Sanders was an educator and AmeriCorps Vista Fellow at Big Brothers - Big Sisters prior to beginning her master's of public policy studies at the Ford School.

Student Life's Michigan Difference Student Leadership Awards are designed to recognize and celebrate students who are doing remarkable things. Nominations are submitted by students, faculty, and staff members.