We regularly host Roundtables with alumni of the Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) Program who share their UChicago experience and advice for prospective students. 

We asked alums how they navigated the quantitative coursework of DPSS. Below are pieces of their testimonies. Access our webinar recordings or our DPSS Alumni Stories webpage for additional highlights. 

Sumair Bhimani
Sumair Bhimani

"It doesn't really matter what your background is: if you're looking for a primer into public policy or leveling up your data analysis skills, the DPSS program is for you. If you're someone who doesn't have that quantitative background or policy background, don't be deterred—you will not be alone."

Sumair Bhimani, DPSS 2020 
Jhernie Evangelista
Jhernie Evangelista

"I felt like there was a learning curve, because I had zero [quantitative] background. I hadn't taken math since high school and I felt intimidated, but the teaching team supported us through every component and met students where they were… I was able to absorb the material and gain confidence around how to conduct these analyses and processes."

Jhernie Evangelista, DPSS 2021
Raymond Garskovas
Raymond Garskovas

"I had a bit of experience with R, but didn't have experience of applying it to policy issues. DPSS was great in providing space to apply coding challenges to things I'm interested in. The previous coding course I had taken, and other online coding programs didn’t have this level of policy specific critical thinking and real-world application. The DPSS policy questions were interesting enough to motivate me to take time out of my day even with a full-time job."

Raymond Garskovas, DPSS 2021
Betty Fang
Betty Fang

"DPSS has an encouraging and approachable curriculum—the assignments, the availability of teaching assistants, all the office hours… Even in the virtual format, everything was designed and implemented fantastically in terms of platforms and resources. While working full-time and balancing my commitments, I had plenty of options to attend office hours and get support."

Betty Fang, MSCAPP Class of 2024, DPSS 2020
Jose Macias
Jose Macias

"Take it step by step, and take advantage of office hours and ask questions… Your growth is driven by how much you want to learn and how much time you can allocate to learning. The curriculum gives you a strong foundation, but in office hours and assignments, you have the room to expand on that."

Jose Macias, MPP Class of 2024, DPSS 2021
Aishwarya Maloo
Aishwarya Maloo

"I had learned R while pursuing my master's degree, but it was just basics and not R studio. In DPSS, we learned how to manipulate and clean data, and how to basically build a data set from scratch. These are important fundamentals for any kind of analysis you do—a clean data set is critical."

Aishwarya Maloo, DPSS 2021
Tejashwini Prashar
Tejashwini Prashar

"As an economics major, I was familiar with the program’s foundational statistical material. Through DPSS, however, I learned how to apply these concepts to policy research. By the end of the program, I hadn’t just come away with a better understanding of research papers. I fundamentally learnt how to think like a social scientist and design my own research to understand key policy problems. This will be immensely helpful when I do my dissertation during the final year of my degree."

Tejashwini Prashar, DPSS 2021