The Volcker Alliance and City University of New York Celebrate Inaugural Winners of the Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest

The Volcker Alliance

CONTACT: Neilia Stephens, Director of Communications


The two CUNY student winners aspire to pursue lives of service to the public good, as leaders in US healthcare policy and criminal justice

NEW YORK, NY (December 12, 2019) The Volcker Alliance and the City University of New York (CUNY) announced the inaugural winners of the Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest, Arslan Mohamed and Jason Waitkus. The Volcker Alliance hosted this contest in partnership with CUNY to recognize and support students who aspire to pursue careers in public service.

With the passing of the Alliance’s founder, Paul A. Volcker, earlier this week, the award breakfast has taken on even greater significance as a tribute to Mr. Volcker’s legacy of leadership and service.

“Though Paul Volcker is remembered by many for his brilliance as an economist and financier, his life passion was public service and restoring public trust in our government institutions. For this reason, it is fitting that we are here this week to celebrate each of the six finalists of the Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest,” said Thomas W. Ross, Volcker Alliance President.

The winners of the contest exemplify the kind of commitment, passion, and talent the public service so badly requires. Arslan Mohamed is a student in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the CUNY School of Medicine, majoring in biomedical sciences. He is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens. Mr. Mohamed aspires to work at the intersection of public service and healthcare and is fueled by his focus on advancing healthcare access and education for all.

Jason Waitkus is a Macaulay Honors College student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is working towards a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology and a minor in criminology. Mr. Waitkus is currently doing research in state prisons, surveying and interviewing correctional officers and prison chaplains to understand recruitment into white supremacy groups and the most effective measures that can be taken to counter it. As a John Jay student, he describes himself as “a fierce advocate for justice, dedicated to changing the way in which our criminal justice system works.”

“We are incredibly proud of Mr. Mohamed, Mr. Waitkus, and all of the contest finalists—they are rising leaders, passionate about giving back to their communities and making government work better for its citizens,” said José Luis Cruz, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost.

The two winning students will each receive $5,000 cash; a year-long, paid internship with a local government agency; a monthly unlimited MetroCard for their internship duration; and an expense-paid trip to a public-service related conference.

The award breakfast celebrating the essay contest winners and finalists was attended by several distinguished public servants and high-ranking CUNY officials. The ceremony’s keynote speech was delivered by Anthony Foxx, Chief Policy Officer and Advisor to the Co-Founders of Lyft, former US Secretary of Transportation, and former Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. José Luis Cruz delivered an address on strengthening public service through higher education.

The essay contest finalists were Quymbee Chen of Hunter College; Maria Jacome of Baruch College; Stephanie Lovett of New York City College of Technology; and Abdul Samed Walker of Baruch College.

The Volcker Alliance advances effective management of government to achieve results that matter to citizens. Our founder, Paul A. Volcker, envisioned a public sector workforce with the experience, preparation, and commitment to ensure that government is accountable and delivers with excellence. Visit to learn more. Follow us on social media @VolckerAlliance and subscribe to the Volcker Alliance newsletter for the latest news and developments. The Volcker Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization.