Life After DPIR - Ms Cailin Crockett on a career in public policy

Cailin Crockett

Alumni 2010, St Cross College


I entered the MPhil in Political Theory in 2010 directly after completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Spanish at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). At Oxford, I quickly became immersed in the coursework for the Core Theory of Politics seminar, learning as much from collaborative discussions with my peers (all of whom humbled me intellectually) as through taught lectures with the faculty. I was fortunate to be assigned Dr Elizabeth Frazer as my tutorial supervisor my first year, and elected to continue with her as a Thesis advisor in my second year, inspired by her feminist scholarship and analytically rigorous instruction. Her guidance and teaching were instrumental in the writing of my thesis, which examined the microfinance program founded by Muhammad Yunus as an exemplification of feminist theories of recognition and redistribution.

From the moment I began the MPhil, I knew that I wanted to utilize the Oxford training in research, critical thinking, writing and argumentation to develop a foundation for a career in public policy, with a focus on social development and gender. Between the MPhil coursework in ethics, contemporary political philosophy, and the ability to take a course in social statistics through the department, I developed a skillset in qualitative and quantitative research while debating concepts such as human rights, democracy, and social welfare—the themes and tools I draw from every day in my career in government.

Since completing the MPhil, I entered civil service through the United States’ Presidential Management Fellowship. I joined the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a fellow examining public health and social services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children, and was fortunate to work for the Vice President and the White House Advisor on Violence against Women for a special assignment.

Upon completing the fellowship in 2014, I began working for the Assistant Secretary for Aging in our Department of Health, coordinating her international and gender policy. I have the privilege of providing technical comments and policy recommendations on behalf of HHS to the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization, and United Nations agencies on elevating the human rights of older women in global gender policy and public health.
As my work requires routine research, analysis, and writing for both academic and lay audiences, I find I regularly rely on the skills I developed at Oxford. Thematically, the work I do is incredibly rewarding and connected with the questions I  explored and examined during the degree about the role of the State, notions and definitions of rights, and of course, feminist critiques and approaches to all of the above.

This past September, my time at Oxford came full circle with my career when I had the privilege of staffing my boss as she spoke on a panel for the United Nations International Day of Older Persons with Muhammad Yunus, and our U.S. Ambassador for Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell. It was truly meaningful to get to meet Mr. Yunus in person and something I never could have imagined as I wrote the MPhil thesis, now four years ago. I will forever treasure my experience as a student in the Political Theory MPhil, and am grateful for the friendships, teaching, and learning Oxford made possible.