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Davenport Institute Graduate Assistant Celeste Benitez Graduated!

celeste smiles in her cap and gown at graduation

On April 19, 2024 the School of Public Policy second year graduate students graduated with their masters degrees. 

One of our very own graduate students, Celeste Benitez, was amongst those to walk across the graduation stage.. We are excited for all of the Pepperdine students, but we are especially thrilled for Celeste as she begins her new chapter.

Celeste is from the San Fernando Valley and is Pepperdine through and through. She graduated from Seaver College, the Malibu undergraduate campus, in 2021 before completing her Masters degree. With Davenport, Celeste made valuable contributions to published research on civic engagement, coordinated Davenport Discussions, City Manager in Residence and the inaugural Mayor in Residence program, and published articles in ICMA’s PM Magazine. Some notable topics she covered in her writing were on combating loneliness and democratized participatory budgeting.

“I've learned a lot from my time with Davenport and SPP. I learned how to be flexible, the power of networking, and maintaining an eagerness to learn,” Benitez said. “I can't express how grateful I am for Maureen and Pooja's guidance throughout the last 2 years.”

Advice she would give to first year students in the Masters program,is to recognize the importance of saying ‘yes. 

“Say yes to a 1:1 meeting with a city manager, to the on-campus events, to the off-campus conferences, to the student organizations on campus,” Benitez said. “If you're interested in working with a professor or an organization, ask! I believe there to be so much opportunity at the School of Public Policy but sometimes you have to take the initiative to ask about it. Sometimes opportunities fall into our laps and other times we are the ones who need to seek them out.”

Congratulations again to Celeste, and thank you for the hard work these past two years!