Meet a few of the Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program alumni and hear of their experiences. You are welcome to connect with a program alum through the Connect with Program Alum form.

Irene Franco Rubio
2019 DPSS Participant Irene Franco Rubio

Irene Franco Rubio

Irene is a media professional at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University. Growing up in the West Phoenix Valley in Arizona and recognizing social and racial injustices in disadvantaged communities, she made it her mission to advocate for systematically oppressed populations. She hopes to shift today’s media landscape by accurately representing the perspectives of disenfranchised communities as an advocate, content creator, intersectional thinker, and change-maker. In the fall of 2019, Irene will intern at the U.S. House of Representatives at the office of Debra Haaland, one of the two first Native American women to serve in Congress, in Washington D.C. through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

“Through DPSS I came to better understand the importance of data in policymaking. Having this data and quantitative analysis awareness will give me the edge that is necessary when it comes to reporting, and when it comes to producing evidence-based writing."

Simon Zhang
2019 DPSS Participant Simon Zhang

Simon Zhang

Simon is a senior at University of California Los Angeles, majoring in applied mathematics and minoring in philosophy. He chose the program to connect his analytic and liberal arts backgrounds and apply the quantitative skills to issues he is passionate about, such as international relations. In his capstone project, Simon worked with Dr. Kara Ross Camarena to aid in her research into refugee camps and the political economy of migration. Simon aims to apply the quantitative analysis and R programming he learned in the program to his coursework in the fall.

“The work we're doing really allowed us to apply the skills we learned throughout this program, as well as think about some of the important policies that needs to be addressed in this world today. I really love the faculty here. I've got to talk to a few of them about my possible future, career-wise or academic. They've been really helpful in terms of helping me think about what my next step is in my life.” 

Kristen Storms
2019 DPSS Participant Kristen Storms

Kristen Storms

Kristen is a junior at Soka University of America in southern California, studying humanities with an emphasis on law, history, and critical race theory. Kristen attended the program seeking a taste of quantitative analysis to balance her liberal arts education. She plans on applying the mathematics and computer programming she learned at UChicago toward her senior capstone project at Soka.

“Despite my lack of background in quantitative analysis and (computer) programming, I felt comfortable in the classroom to ask my questions, because I know that all of my classmates are at different stages, and some know more than others. We really collaborate in the classroom and outside of the classroom, as well. I always have support—not only from faculty, but also my own classmates. And I now have a very firm foundation in both quantitative analysis and R programming language that I can take beyond this program.”

Maria Ballesteros
2018 DPSS Participant Maria Ballesteros

Maria Ballesteros

María is a recent graduate of Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México with a bachelors in Political Science. Her interest in understanding how policy impacts daily life influenced her choice to attend the 2018 Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program. María returned to UChicago Harris Public Policy as a full-time Research Assistant, and supported the 2019 program as a Teaching Fellow and Resident Assistant. 

"The biggest impact was getting to work with so many exceptional people from all around the world. The capstone project allowed us to work closely with both professors and peers in several fields, all of whom have different outlooks on a specific problem. Living in the dorms and exploring the city was a great balance of fun and social engagement to our studies. The group’s diverse backgrounds made the program an enriching and mind-opening experience."

Read more in María’s blog post.

Manish Muthukrishnan
2019 DPSS Participant Manish Muthukrishnan 
 

Manish Muthukrishnan 

Manish studies economics and marketing at the University of Canterbury. Wanting to supplement his knowledge of statistics with a foundation in computer programming, Muthukrishnan attended the program to learn the computer programming language R. While at UChicago, he used R to analyze data on racial segregation in Chicago housing and to create a visual representation to communicate the scope of the problem. 

“I've always been in public policy, but the data element and how you can incorporate that into public policy is something that DPSS has really given me. After this, I want to go back and continue learning R, and add Python to it. That will be really useful in my career, and the impact that I can have on my community.” 

Jessica Lyu
2018 DPSS Participant Jessica Lyu

Jessica Lyu

Jessica is a recent graduate of the University of International Business Economics in China. As an economics major Jessica has a solid knowledge of the theoretical side. She chose this program to learn more about policy and the application side, which is part of the reason why she enjoyed the policy series the most. She is now enrolled in the Master of Arts in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods at Harris. 

“What impressed me the most was the ability to ask all of our questions. we were able to ask questions at any time in class, and there were office hours every day after class for us to ask more questions. This ability and opportunity to connect with faculty and engage the course content was different from my undergraduate experience.”

Mayra Hoyos Benitez
2019 DPSS Participant Mayra Hoyos Benitez

Mayra Hoyos Benitez

Mayra graduated from the Universidad de Monterrey with a double bachelor’s in Political Science & Public Administration and International Affairs. Prior to the program she was a researcher for TOJIL, a non-profit civil association, and a Director of International Affairs at the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. Wanting to focus on public policy, Mayra saw the program as a crucial preparatory step for graduate study—or any policy job.  She now serves as an Account Supervisor at Edelman Public Affairs Practice, and is applying to graduate programs in policy.  

“Through this program I learned that I can push myself, and get out of my comfort zone to learn new skills and to do things I never thought I could do before. This was most apparent in our capstone project, which explored how the demographics of refugee camps have shifted to include more women and children. It was challenging and rewarding to accomplish so much in so little time.” 

Ruobing Wang
2019 DPSS Participant Ruobing Wang

Ruobing Wang

Ruobing is currently studying computer science and economics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he works as a teaching assistant for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He worked as a student mentor for a Bloomberg Workshop to analyze the stock market and financial trends. Ruobing decided to join the program to learn the economics behind programming systems and network within UChicago.

“This program offers opportunity to build your network. Not only did I meet with university admission advisers, but also with current graduate students and professionals. For example, I had coffee with a student who has almost two decades of experience working in global finance and policy. It was really helpful to talk with him about his experience, work, and how he applies the course materials. We are now connected through LinkedIn.” 

Yangzhou Ou
2018 DPSS Participant Yangzhou Ou

Yangzhou Ou

Yangzhou is an aspiring data journalist. Before entering her fourth year at Fudan University’s School of Journalism, Yangzhou was actively seeking data science and quantitative skills. She chose this program to become equipped with the analytical and programming skills to conduct in-depth reporting. Yangzhou will return to Harris Public Policy fall of 2020 as a graduate student in our MS in Computational Analysis and Public Policy, and will intern at international organization and technology companies during the gap year. 

"Within three-weeks of intensive learning with econometrics and R, we could apply these tools in real-world data sets and give suggestions on policy issues. I was amazed to find that I could visualize the data and conduct analysis with the knowledge I learnt just few weeks ago."

Read more in Yangzhou’s blog post.

Zhaopeng “Cecilia” Cai
2019 DPSS Participant Zhaopeng “Cecilia” Cai

Zhaopeng “Cecilia” Cai

Cecilia is a junior at New York University Shanghai, where she is earning a bachelor’s degree in Interactive Media Arts. She studies and artistically interprets the connections between new media technology and the physical world. Cecilia chose the program to learn how to use data to help solve real-world problems through policy—a skill she thinks will be invaluable in her post-college career.

“It really helped me a lot in thinking about how to analyze a situation and what kind of information I will have to seek to support my evidence. One thing I learned is to never be too hasty to draw conclusions from your evidence. That logic and that mindset really helped me prepare for my future learning.”

Nina Jhunjhnuwala
2019 DPSS Participant Nina Jhunjhnuwala

Nina Jhunjhnuwala 

Nina recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Conversation and Resource Studies. She chose the program as a way to add quantitative prowess to her qualitative skills, particularly when it comes to analyzing environmental policy. Fresh on the job market, Nina thinks her newfound computer program and data analysis skills will give her a leg up as she enters the workforce.

“The academic highlight for me for me has been in learning how to use the programming language, R. Learning how to utilize it to analyze data has been such a joy in a way that I didn't expect it to be. It's difficult to learn, but once you're able to master it—and are able to analyze data and be able to predict results and draw graphs—it really changes how you view data and how you can use it to move forward research. I'm able to spend hours on a (data) set and get an immediate answer in a way that you couldn't do before having this program.”

Lana Kugli
2018 DPSS Participant Lana Kugli

Lana Kugli

Lana is a recent graduate of New York University Shanghai with a bachelors in Economics. Her research interest and experience is in the intersection of economics, politics, and gender. In search of a fulfilling graduate school program, Lana chose the program to help narrow to her search and to deepen her technical understanding of data. 

"I entered the program with so many graduate school ideas. I wanted to learn programming, and to understand my graduate school interests. Week by week, the program shaped my interests and goals. I ended the program with a clear picture of what I want. I want to go to graduate school for a Masters in Public Policy with data analytics.”

Read more in Lana’s blog post.

Sixian Zeng
2018 DPSS Participant Sixian Zeng

Sixian Zeng

Sixian is a current undergraduate student at Peking University, studying sociology. Sixian found UChicago Harris School of Public Policy to be a place for diverse people and backgrounds who share the commonality of wanting to increase social good. Sixian’s insight for prospective students is if you are interested in public policy and want to do social good, then this program is for you.

“The classes are worth our efforts, challenging but rewarding. I would definitely recommend this program to whoever wants to experience the UChicago way of being rigorous and fun and learn new things everyday.”

Maria Camila Diaz Granados Baena
2018 DPSS Participant Maria Camila Diaz Granados Baena

Maria Camila Diaz Granados Baena

After finishing a degree in psychology, María Camila is completing another bachelors degree in business administration from the Universidad De Los Andes. Her background combines the internal or innate human mind and the external or socialized structures in society,and how these two factors relate in effective policy. María Camila chose UChicago because of the diverse and interdisciplinary approach to education and research necessary for data-based policy.

"I got to know the University of Chicago and get a glimpse of what studying there would be like. I loved getting to know more about the different graduate programs the university offers. In addition, I really enjoyed getting to know different people from all over the world and from different backgrounds including students, teachers, and other members of the UChicago community."