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Shane Crounse, EdD
Data Intelligence Analyst, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
MS, Science, Technology and Public Policy
"My time in STSPP created an endless curiosity that pushed me to pursue further study and ultimately my doctoral degree."
What is your current job?
I support a major research hospital and university with the management of research grants and contracts. VUMC is one of the top research universities and teaching hospitals in the United States and receives hundreds of millions of dollars each year in research funding. I support faculty, staff, and administrators by understanding federal policy related to grant funding. Specifically, I design and implement training, communications, and workshops about changes to policy and practice. My office also manages the database of all funded research activity on campus and we provide internal and external stakeholders with data for grant proposals and decision-making.
Why did you choose to major in Public Policy/STSPP?
RIT’s STSPP department allowed me to combine my interests in technological innovation and government policymaking. At the time, I was already working in a university research office and had recently finished my bachelor’s degree at RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Science (GCCIS). I was intrigued by the STSPP department’s desire to train technologists for the policymaking process.
Tell us about how your RIT experience, particularly your experience in the Public Policy Program, influenced your life personally and professionally?
The faculty in STSPP were very supportive of my interests and welcomed my technology background. The coursework and my thesis committee helped me clarify my thinking and gave me skills that I continue to use in my career today, such as writing policy papers and reading a lot of government reports. My time in STSPP created an endless curiosity that pushed me to pursue further study and ultimately my doctoral degree.
How has a liberal arts education at a technology-focused university set you apart from your peers and colleagues?
Since leaving RIT, I’ve realized how important (and unique) it is to combine strong technology skills with a liberal arts education. The technology around us is still being created and operated by human beings. The disciplines of the liberal arts are still the best way (I know of) to think deeply and creatively about people and society. My current job is built on my ability to combine an understanding of ever-advancing technology with an understanding of politics, policy-making, and other societal trends.
What experience most prepared you for life after RIT (i.e. class, faculty/staff member, extracurricular activity, etc.)?
The discussions that occurred in STSPP classrooms and with my thesis committee were really the most important part of my master’s degree. The back-and-forth with classmates and with faculty is where I learned the most. The discussions are also what prepared me best for further study and for my work in a highly complex and collaborative environment.
What were you involved in outside of the classroom at RIT?
At the time, I worked in RIT’s Sponsored Research Service department where I helped RIT faculty manage the rules and regulations governing their research projects. I also continued to stay involved with RIT’s Mini Baja race team – a team I joined during my time as an RIT undergrad.
What challenges and successes have you experience up to this point in your career?
I have been very fortunate to work with excellent people during my career. I’ve had several mentors who helped me identify my strengths and work on my weaknesses! My current position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the result of lucky circumstances and excellent mentorship. However, I have been able to take advantage of this luck because I kept learning and practicing the skills I’ve acquired. Technology and public policy are both continuously evolving, so I can’t afford to be complacent.
If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?
I would advise my younger self to seek out opportunities for projects and professional experiences right away. Never settle into a job too comfortably or become complacent. Always learn and evolve.