Two alumni who graduated from both the College and Harris weigh in on how their UChicago experience prepared them for their next steps.
Cosette Hampton, MPP ’19, smiling in a white shirt
Cosette Hampton
Deepon Bhaumik, MACRM’18, smiling in a red sweater
Deepon Bhaumik

We interviewed alumni Cosette Hampton, MPP’19, and Deepon Bhaumik, MACRM’18, both native Chicagoans, who graduated from the College before pursuing graduate degrees at Harris.

We asked them about their fondest memories from UChicago and Harris, how they connected their undergraduate fields to their graduate work, and how that prepared them for their next steps. While Hampton was primarily interested in social policy, and Bhaumik was interested in applied economics research, they both found that their undergraduate coursework prepared them well for their studies at Harris.

What are you doing now?

Cosette Hampton: I am a planning analyst in the Planning and Reporting Department at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). I lead the execution of quarterly reporting to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and data analysis related to post-secondary education, and I carry out spatial analysis and mapping for the CHA and fulfill requests from the City of Chicago and its sister agencies. 

Deepon Bhaumik: I am currently a first year Health Policy PhD student at Yale, with a concentration in Economics.

How has your Harris degree helped prepare you for your current role?

Cosette Hampton: Perhaps more than any other policy school, Harris has an understanding of why “space matters” in relation to building out sustainable policy interventions. Leaving Harris with two certificates—one in Data Analytics and the other in Survey Research—and working at the Mansueto Institute provided me with marketable skills and the ability to integrate software like ArcGIS and R to improve CHA’s data quality, streamline processes, and automate updates.

Deepon Bhaumik: I graduated from the MA in Public Policy with a Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM) program, which is basically a pre-PhD program where you take classes from the Harris PhD core and complete a research apprenticeship with a professor. Most of the concepts I learned in the MACRM program transferred directly into the PhD program at Yale format. At Harris, I learned to balance competing research priorities and coursework, which has been an essential skill in my PhD program.  

What was your undergraduate field, and how did you connect it to public policy?

Cosette Hampton: My undergrad was also in Public Policy with a minor in Human Rights. I enjoyed the curricula for the undergrad policy program so I assumed that going directly to Harris after graduating would allow me to “master” the work I was privy to in undergrad—and my assumption was correct. 

Deepon Bhaumik: I double-majored in Economics and South Asian Languages and Civilization. As an Econ major, I took all my economics electives at Harris, because the courses and topics seemed relevant in improving health and socioeconomic outcomes for vulnerable populations. I found that the Harris faculty used many of the Economic principles and analysis I learned during undergrad in ways that had direct policy implications. I also did research with Harris professors in Health Economics and Policy, which increased my interest reducing health disparities.

How did your undergraduate experience at UChicago prepare you for graduate work at Harris? 

Cosette Hampton: Considering that my undergraduate degree was a BA in Public Policy and minor in Human Rights, I knew what to expect in the graduate program, and I felt confident in my skillset and in the support from teachers and other students because I was used to the UChicago academic community from undergrad. 

The Harris community is diverse: students come from different academic backgrounds, cities, and countries, and bring those experiences to the table. There also was a range of age and work experience. Many of the students from Chicago came to Harris to make a difference in our city because, like me, they have roots here. They were eager to challenge themselves in class, clever enough to take on difficult material, and brave enough to push back on world-views that could be damaging to Black people and people of color—when we all (re)enter the field as policy professionals. 

Deepon Bhaumik: I was already used to the format of UChicago in terms of the quarter system, pace of work, and course load (aka “the Grind”). I had a solid foundation in economics because of the major, which helped me in my courses at Harris. The undergrad also has a diverse student body from around the world, which allowed me to learn about different viewpoints and opinions. This was the same at Harris, except now many people came in with real work experience. 

What was your favorite experience/memory as an undergrad?

Cosette Hampton: I enjoyed the curriculum in the undergraduate program and was deeply academically engaged by conversations with other students. Having conversations with people from all over the world, some who had experienced similar systemic racism and oppression, and some with completely opposing worldviews to my own, allowed me to broaden my perspective on how these views would later result in policy implications in the field. I learned that in the field, I would also have to stand up for policies I believe in. Challenging myself with these conversations molded me and gave me more patience and a broader perspective. 

Deepon Bhaumik: I really enjoyed learning from and engaging with other students from my House (Henderson), classes, and RSOs. Almost everyone I met exposed me to a new perspective on everything from income inequality and health care to Indian films. Although not always an enjoyable experience, I remember working with friends on Econ homework and helping each other. I have great memories from being a part of the University’s Chamber Orchestra and involved with the South Asian Student Association (SASA) Cultural Show—the largest cultural event on campus—which happens every spring quarter and celebrates South Asian culture through music, dance, and other art. 

What was your favorite experience/memory as a graduate student?

Cosette Hampton: The camaraderie I experienced at Harris was fantastic. I enjoyed study sessions and movie nights, I had accountability partners on the weekends, and my friends invited me to interesting events on campus and told me about job opportunities. 

When I interned in Washington D.C., I didn’t know anyone there. Other Harris students interning there reached out to explore the city, attend events, and spend time with me. I was inspired and enlightened by conversations about their work at their respective internships.  

Deepon Bhaumik: Because the program was small—about 25 students—we spent a lot of time together working on problem sets and studying for exams. Even though the program was competitive, everyone in the cohort was extremely supportive and helpful. Hanging out and learning from such a fun and smart group of people made my time at Harris more memorable. One quarter, for a political economy class, there was a mock academic conference where everyone presented their research topics. The entire experience was enjoyable and valuable—presenting my research to the faculty and walking around to learn from my friends’ poster boards.  

Do you have any advice for UChicago students graduating from the College this spring as they prepare to start at Harris this fall? 

Cosette Hampton: Be prepared to have a completely different, more close-knit social experience than you had during undergrad. Take refresher courses in statistics and microeconomics, and be sure to participate in Harris’ prep courses such as Jumpstart and Math Camp—take these resources seriously and keep your notes! Whatever your undergraduate experience, come to graduate school with an open mind and an eagerness to learn, network, and build relationships.

Deepon Bhaumik: Get ready to meet lots of new amazing and intelligent friends and classmates. Sure coursework is really important, but if possible, try to take advantage of the various non-academic opportunities at Harris. There are multiple talks and presentations each week with leaders in the policy world. If research is your goal, get involved with faculty at Harris as early as possible. Cold call, send out emails to as many professors as you can, and try to find a research opportunity. Don’t be afraid of rejection or to approach professors. 

Information for UChicago College Class of 2020

Are you graduating from the College this spring? Apply to Harris by June 1. If accepted into select Master's programs, you will receive a one-year, half-tuition scholarship. 

Visit the Information for UChicago College Class of 2020 page for more details.