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Future Leader: LSU’s Lauren DeFrank Selected as a Presidential Management Fellow

LSU graduate student Lauren DeFrank of League City, Texas, was recently selected as a 2009 Presidential Management Fellow, or PMF, a prestigious and highly competitive program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Selection into the program qualifies her for a two-year internship with federal government agencies, and an inside track to some of the top federal jobs in the nation.

Lauren DeFrank

The Presidential Management Fellows program, formerly known as the Presidential Management Intern Program, is designed to draw outstanding graduate, law and doctoral students to federal service. More than 5,000 students applied to the program in 2009, representing the largest number of applicants in a single year and a 40 percent increase over 2008.

“It is a little surreal to be selected as a PMF finalist from the thousands of applicants,” DeFrank said. “I am very excited about all the possibilities this will lead to, and I am particularly thrilled about the training we will receive.”

In order to become an official Presidential Management Fellow, a finalist must obtain an internship with the federal government within one year of being selected as a finalist. Each spring, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management holds a job fair, where students are able to meet and interview with personnel from many federal agencies.

DeFrank, who will graduate this summer with a master’s degree in environmental science with a concentration in environmental planning and management, joined 786 PMF finalists invited to the job fair in March in Washington, D.C.

“While at the job fair I got to meet a lot of fellow PMF finalists, and it was really amazing to talk with them about their experiences,” DeFrank said. “I had about seven interviews that week and a few follow-up interviews afterward.”

DeFrank received a formal offer from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute of Water Resources to work as an environmental planner. She will begin working in August in Alexandria, Va.

In the future, DeFrank hopes to spend some time in the federal government and eventually make her way back to the Gulf Coast to assist with hurricane protection and wetland rebuilding efforts.

“I would like to become a leader in the federal government in the long-term because I think I can truly make the most difference working for the government,” she said. “I would like to institute and enforce environmental policies that will promote conservation and preservation of the environment.”   

Defrank received her undergraduate degree in environmental biology and environmental science from Tulane University in 2006. After receiving her degree, she worked for the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, D.C., before moving back to Louisiana and starting graduate school at LSU.

“While at LSU, I have learned much from my professors through research and coursework,” DeFrank said. “Without the encouragement of my major advisor, Dr. Margaret Reams, and the environmental sciences department chair, Dr. Nina Lam, I would have never considered applying for the PMF program. It is thanks to them that I have this wonderful opportunity.”

As she leaves Louisiana for her second stint in the Washington, D.C., area, DeFrank offers some advice to other LSU students.

“I would encourage incoming students to be open to all sorts of possibilities and new places and to go outside your comfort zone because there are definitely some great opportunities out there,” said DeFrank, who credits her real world experience at the Alliance to Save Energy as part of the reason for her success in graduate school.

LSU Paul M. Herbert Law Center graduate Susan Bartlett was also selected as a 2009 PMF finalist.

The Presidential Management Fellows Program

The PMF program is the federal government’s premier fellows program. Since its creation by Executive Order in 1977, more than 6,000 men and women from the nation’s top graduate programs have become fellows and moved on to serve their nation at duty stations primarily in Washington, D.C., but also across the United States and worldwide.

For more information on the PMF program, visit For more information on being nominated for the program by LSU, contact Marie M. Hamilton at 225-578-3885.

Ernie Ballard | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2009