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Alumni Spotlight:


Abby Ruth Cooper is a UNC class of 2020 Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) minor who majored in Public Policy and Women’s and Gender Studies. Abby currently works in nonprofit development as the Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator at Ascencia, a Los Angeles based homeless services agency. She is looking forward to starting a temporary Development Assistant position at My Friend’s Place, a service center in Hollywood dedicated to helping youth experiencing homelessness build self-sufficent lives. Abby is passionate about social, racial, and economic justice. She plans to attend law school in the future so that she may continue to advocate for the rights of the unhoused and low-income community.


A Conversation with Abby


(1) What led you to minor in PPE at UNC? 

The PPE minor fits at the intersection of my interests. As a Public Policy major, I wanted to learn more about how philosophy, economics, and political science interact to influence policy, and PPE provided me an opportunity to dive deeper into these topics. I have many interests, and an interdisciplinary minor such as PPE allowed me to explore multiple areas of study and how they interact.


(2) How has what you learned from the PPE Program helped you in your career? 

The critical thinking skills I developed in the PPE Program have been an asset to my career. The PPE Program provided me with multiple frameworks through which to process current events and the prominent issues facing our society. In my work in the nonprofit sector, applying a critical lens is important to discover the root cause of problems and create effective solutions.


(3) What is your greatest professional accomplishment so far? 

I am just at the beginning of my career, but in college I was the first Policy Intern at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. I worked to build the OCRCC’s capacity for policy advocacy and gave a presentation to NC’s Joint Legislative Women’s Caucus about sexual violence in NC and necessary policy reforms, including a bill that would recognize the refusal to heed withdrawal of consent as a crime that can be prosecuted. A few months later, the Governor signed SB199 – Modernizing Sexual Assault Laws, making NC the last state to recognize the right to revoke consent.


(4) What professor or course influenced you the most during your time in the PPE Program? 

The PPE Capstone course I took with Professor Alex Marcoci was very influential because I was able to pursue my own interests for the paper assignments while reading about different philosophical takes on current events.


(5) What was your favorite extracurricular programming that the PPE Program offered (i.e. reading groups, weekend seminars, speaker series, etc.)?

I participated in a reading group for Tommie Shelby’s Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and ReformI really enjoyed the opportunity to have deep conversations with my peers about the topic of the book, which furthered my understanding of the criminalization of poverty. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in policy solutions to alleviate poverty and crime.


(6) What advice do you have for prospective PPE students? 

Look for the connections between PPE and your other classes/academic interests. It is really cool when something you are learning in one class can be applied to another class.


(7) What advice do you have for recent PPE graduates? 

Apply the critical thinking skills you gained in PPE to all aspects of your life and don’t feel limited by your majors/minors. The critical thinking skills you gained are applicable to any job.


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