Report date
January 2021
Learning Log

Sixteen months ago I completed the six essay questions that comprise the initial Bush Fellowship application. Coming up with compelling responses was difficult, but trimming them to meet the words limits was doubly so. I hit “send” somewhat drained by the process and not expecting to progress given the volume of highly qualified applicants.

I was proud to make the initial cut, and grew more excited with each subsequent cut (each with more questions and more word limits). My topic was how to improve trust between the police and the communities they serve. To my shock, the fellowship was announced just after George Floyd’s death as I was on the streets in riot gear. And with that I started my Bush Fellowship journey at the epicenter of the lowest ebb in police-community relations in 50 years. Because of the timing, I felt the importance of my role that much more keenly. For this first six months I’ve tried to weave several strands together to create a successful fellowship.

The main part of my journey has been in the Master of Public Affairs program at the Humphrey School. This has been a great experience. It’s often human nature to stay within your comfort zone, and this program has pushed me farther that I likely would have pushed myself. A large part of the curriculum is focussed on race and equity as it applies to systems, institutions, and leadership. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow in this area and get a more holistic view outside of policing. Additionally, I’ve been lucky to have fellow Fellows Guy Bowling and Ben Schierer in the program with me. I have no regrets about choosing this program as the main focus of my Fellowship.

Next has been a focus on myself. This also has several parts. I’ve picked a great Leadership Coach through the Fellowship who has helped me learn more about how my background and culture has shaped and influenced me in ways I hadn’t consciously realized before. I’ve also had to continue working full-time as I balance work, family, and school. In this case, working full-time also means frequently being called to respond to civil unrest. It’s a unique position being on the front lines of America's political and social turmoil while also thinking hard about big-picture ways to develop solutions.

Finally, covid has tinged everything. I regret not being able to develop the deepest possible relationships with Fellows at in person gatherings, though we have some good video meetings. I have been unable to attend some of the police specific trainings I had hoped to because of the pandemic. I’m hopeful the vaccine can help us restore in-person meetings by the end of the summer. I look forward to more opportunities to create meaningful relationships in person when it’s safe again.

I felt I had some important things to say and valuable contributions to add to make things better in our community. The Bush Foundation agreed with me, and I’m grateful to them for this opportunity to grow as a leader and make a bigger difference. If you’re considering a Bush Fellowship, I encourage you to find what motivates you to make positive change and show that passion in your application.