A Passion for the Public Sector
Jordan Lillie, BSBA Public Policy and Management and BSBA Business Economics ’09
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Jordan Lillie’s family moved to Tucson when she was 16 years old, so when she graduated from Catalina Foothills High School in 2005, she wasn’t anxious to leave southern Arizona for college like many of her friends who’d grown up in Tucson. “I got a full scholarship to UA and decided, on a whim, to declare pre-business as my major,” she says. “The other majors I considered were art history and French horn performance! I predicted that business would offer the most opportunities… and I was right.”
Lillie wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in her career, but she knew she wanted to make a difference in her community. “As I progressed through my Eller classes, I became passionate about how business expertise can be applied to the public sector,” she says. “With that in mind, I applied for an internship with the newly-elected Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and was fortunate enough to work in both her Washington, D.C., and Tucson offices for two years.” The internship gave her experience in everything from constituent casework and public relations to Capitol tours. “Working at the epicenter of policy action was an incredible learning experience and only strengthened my passion for public service,” she says.
She spent this past summer in Sacramento, completing an internship with Deloitte Consulting. “I was staffed on a public sector project that gave me even more insight into the intersection of business and government,” she explains. “The project involved developing an integrated system that computes eligibility for public assistance programs in 35 California counties.”
Lillie also built her resume with co-curricular activities, including UA’s Honors Student Council during her freshman and sophomore years, then Eller Scholars (serving as vice president for one year), and now the Eller College Student Council.
“Involvement in the Student Council has been very meaningful because of its influential relationships with community organizations, corporate recruiters, and the College’s administration,” she says. Lillie has also worked extensively with College administration through her position as alumni and development student coordinator. “It’s given me a lot of exposure to incredible Eller College alumni and key university leadership,” she says. “The inspiration and support they have shown me has given me the confidence to turn my life goals into realities.”
Now that Lillie is completing her final semester at Eller, she’s looking back at classes that have been influential. “Dr. Gerald Swanson’s basic economic issues class changed my way of thinking about making decisions, ranging from choosing which sandwich to order at lunch to financing the debt of a nation,” she says. “I knew after taking his course that I wanted to narrow in on economics as my area of study.”
Another influential class — art history and the cinema — touched on her interest in the performing arts (she was part of the University’s choir and orchestra programs throughout college). “Dr. David Soren is a walking, talking, and sometimes, even dancing time capsule,” she says. “The knowledge he imparted about the origins and evolution of our pop culture surfaces in my mind on a daily basis. It’s funny how an arbitrary elective can have such an impact on the way you look at the world!”
Lillie will graduate in December. “My dream job,” she says with a laugh, “would be to travel the world as a food and hotel critic for National Geographic Traveler magazine, but I’m focusing my search on the public sector.”