Meet NASFAA’s 2024 Dallas Martin Endowment Policy Intern: Zoe Turner

By Zoe Turner, NASFAA Policy Staff

Greetings NASFAA Community,

Zoe Turner at Graduation

My name is Zoe Turner and I am delighted to introduce myself as NASFAA’s 2024 Dallas Martin Endowment Policy Intern! I am honored to be joining a community of passionate professionals committed to the success of students in the classroom and beyond. This summer, I hope to contribute my knowledge and experience to further NASFAA’s mission of empowering financial aid administrators in their critical work to create opportunities for access to higher education.

Last month, I graduated with the highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and public policy and completed a minor in data science. Additionally, I served two years as a research assistant to professor Neal Caren in the UNC Sociology Department. Our Russell-Sage Foundation funded project used a mixed-methods approach to understand the impact of Black Lives Matter protests on police policy and reform. This experience greatly developed my skills in data analysis, case-study research, and policy evaluation. My undergraduate career was nothing short of incredible and I’m excited to be returning to Chapel Hill this fall to complete my Master of Public Policy with a concentration in education and labor markets. 

Although much of my recent time has been spent in North Carolina, I am a native of the DMV, born and raised in Frederick, Maryland. Growing up so close to the heart of government inspired a love of history, politics, and policy in my early academic years. I had long planned to study political science and public policy in college, but that was the extent of my academic/professional foresight. A senior year capstone project in collaboration with the YMCA of San Diego to improve early care and k-12 outcomes for families and providers served as my introduction to the education policy sector. I quickly discovered the severe affordability crisis facing both early and higher education programs. Education at any level is an immeasurable investment in longstanding success of the individual and society and requires a thoughtful policy approach. Thus, following this project, I continued to seek opportunities related to expanding access and affordability in education and fell into the world of higher education. I have always been drawn to issues of social justice in policy and believe developing equitable and inclusive financial aid policy is a major avenue to equipping marginalized, yet capable students, with the resources necessary to realize their potential.

My personal experience with financial aid serves as a secondary point of inspiration in my pursuit of higher education policy work. As an out-of-state student, I owe my entire undergraduate career and beyond to the opportunities made available via university grants, scholarships, Pell Grants, and a few loans. Additionally, I was lucky to earn both monthly income and professional development through my work-study as a research assistant. Financial aid supported my undergraduate learning and set me up for future success without burdensome loans. Every student deserves to have the chance to explore their passions and feel confident entering into the workforce. I hope to use the skills I learned to inform effective, data-driven, and equitable policy in the long-term.

Beyond my interests in politics and policy, I am heavily involved with dance in my free time. I have spent the past four summers as a dance teacher of many different ages and styles. I served as a four-year member and co-captain of UNC’s dance team and plan to continue teaching dance in the fall. My other hobbies include spending time with friends and family, working out, and watching all UNC sports, particularly basketball.

My first couple of weeks with NASFAA have been filled with many warm introductions, new opportunities, and lots of new information. On my second day I attended an advocacy pipeline on Capitol Hill with our assistant director of government relations, Nalia Medina and two amazing members to meet with congressional staff about the most pertinent issues of aid administrators. It was an unforgettable day and a great start to my intern experience. I’m looking forward to an incredible summer of learning with NASFAA and I hope to meet many of you at the National Conference in Milwaukee. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my introduction article! Please feel free to reach me at my email [email protected] to connect, share information and recommendations, or with any questions at all!


Publication Date: 6/10/2024

Lori V | 6/10/2024 8:51:52 AM

Congratulations Zoe! I hope you truly enjoy your experience with NASFAA and take away all the knowledge you can absorb. You are working with the best of the best! Wishing you the best.

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