Deyo wants to use the quantitative skills she gains at Harris to be a foreign service officer and help US interests abroad.
Headshot of Madison Deyo
Madison Deyo

Madison Deyo comes to Harris seeking to become a powerful force for change, both in the United States and abroad. Her parents worked at embassies on behalf of the US government, and Deyo grew up surrounded by politics and international relations. “I was struck by all the ways policy has failed and succeeded around the world, and the big part the US plays in development policy,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, as a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate, Deyo pursued a dual degree in political science and international development studies. “International development studies takes an interdisciplinary approach—sociology, public affairs, geography—and applies the skills I gained from political science,” Deyo said. “I knew I eventually wanted to study public policy, so the dual degree seemed like a practical starting point.”
Deyo also began taking Turkish classes in her freshman year. “My initial interest in Turkish was driven by its usefulness. Turkish is designated as a ‘critical language’ by the US government, and hardly anyone in the US learns it.” Deyo went on to spend six weeks at an intensive language program at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
Deyo said she had another inspiration for working hard to pick up the language: “In high school, I remember a show called Magnificent Century, about the Ottoman Empire, and it was in Turkish. My interest was piqued, so when I went to UCLA I also wanted to learn as much as I could about the language and larger geopolitical forces at play in the region.” 

To develop and hone her geopolitical skills, Deyo also was a research fellow at the Luskin Center for History and Policy at UCLA. There, she applied her interest in practical approaches to research, studying US influence in the Middle East with a focus on Turkey. This fellowship also informed her subsequent honors thesis, which explores the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey and contradictory governmental policies regarding integration in Turkey and return to Syria.
The 2016 election, however, directed Deyo’s interest in policy closer to home. “I was too young to vote then, and although I had always been aware of politics, I came to realize that policy influences and impacts everything. I became a lot more invested.”
This investment also compelled Deyo to finish her undergraduate program a year ahead of schedule. “One of the reasons I wanted to complete my undergrad so quickly is that I really feel a need to do something, and I want to go straight to grad school to gain the skills to go figure things out. I have an urge to make a positive change, to make something of my life, and to help others.”
This drive to make positive change led Deyo to seek a master’s degree in public policy—and UChicago Harris’ quantitative reputation made it her first choice. “Data is incredibly important. It’s also kind of my weak spot. Harris was hands down the best place for me to strengthen my quantitative skills.” Deyo also said the flexibility of the Master of Public Policy program was appealing, especially the options to pursue a variety of certificates and the significant space for elective classes.
After Harris, Deyo says she definitely sees herself in public service, potentially at the State Department or other government agency. “I especially want to be a foreign service officer, working to help US interests abroad, or for USAID,” she says. However, she also still feels drawn to work in domestic politics to solve problems here at home. “These next two years at Harris will really help determine where I go.”