Portrait of Maddie Pickens
Category: General News, Student Experience

Title: 2020 Whittington Scholar Winner is Committed to Giving Back to the Community

The Whittington Scholarship is a prestigious award given to a second-year McCourt student who excels academically and displays a strong commitment to serving their community. This year’s winner, Madeline Pickens (MS-DSPP ‘20), is a stellar student and an extremely deserving winner.

Founded in 2014, the Whittington Scholarship celebrates the memory of then-GPPI associate dean and professor Leslie Whittington who, along with her husband and two children, died on September 11, 2001.

photo of the 2020 whittington scholar

Blending Education and Interests

Madeline Pickens completed her undergraduate degree in economics and spanish at the University of Arizona in 2018 and soon found herself looking for ways to blend her background in economics with her passion for data science in a way that helped people around the world. It was during this search that she discovered the McCourt School’s Master of Science in Data Science for Public Policy (MS-DSPP) degree.

After arriving in DC, Maddie immediately became immersed in her surroundings – attending book events, joining several student organizations including Georgetown Public Policy Review (GPPR), McCourt Student Association (MSA), and Women in Public Policy Initiative (WiPPI) and engaging with the McCourt community on several different levels. Maddie quickly assumed leadership roles in each of these organizations and currently serves as the senior data visualization editor for GPPR, the MS-DSPP representative for MSA, and board member of WiPPI. 

Inside the classroom, Maddie is an engaged student who regularly goes above and beyond to help her classmates succeed. “Maddie is everything you could ask for in a student. She works hard, asks great questions and figures things out,” says Professor Michael Bailey, director of the MS-DSPP program. “She is also passionate about the program outside the classroom, serving as a DSPP-student representative and acting as a leader among her peers.”

Recently, Maddie and her classmates worked with DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to increase the efficacy of their home inspection process. This work stands to help thousands of DC residents who are living in substandard conditions. 

Maddie continuously seeks to increase her scope outside of the MS-DSPP curriculum and recently took the Leadership and Problem-Solving in the Digital Age course with Professor Tara McGuiness, finding it “fascinating to see how data science tools that [she] learned about could be such failures if not rolled out properly with consideration to ethics and availability.”

The McCourt School is thrilled to award Maddie with the 2020 Whittington Scholarship in recognition of her contributions to domestic policy through her dedication and research and her service to McCourt and the Georgetown community.