When I was a first year MPP student, I took what we call “the core” – classes in Microeconomics, Statistics, and Analytical Politics. During my first year in the core, I sometimes felt lost and had a difficult time applying the quantitative foundations and models to the real world.

So, to start my second year, I knew I wanted to take courses that would expand upon the concepts I learned in the core, but ultimately had real life applications.

Currently, I am enrolled in: State and Local Public Finance, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Lessons from Policies that Went Wrong (LPWW). These classes are all Harris electives, but I also took Crime Prevention at the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) in my 3rd quarter last year. The first two courses are heavily reliant on microeconomics principles, while LPWW uses statistical models to explain different designs that informed policies...that went wrong. Even Crime Prevention at SSA was rooted in economic and statistical concepts to analyze existing juvenile justice programs and the effects of different police tactics on crime rates.

From the City of Chicago’s current fiscal situation to California’s high speed rail project, I am learning how to look at these issues with a critical eye and calculate figures that have real world effects on policy decisions today.

If you asked me last year what electives I wanted to take, I most likely would have ran away from anything that required a calculator. However, with this baseline understanding of microeconomics and statistics from the core, I now feel better prepared to tackle this quarter’s electives that not only refine my quantitative skills, but also provide implications outside the classroom. After I graduate from Harriss, I plan to work in the public sector, specifically state level government. These classes will help me critically evaluate state programs through both a financial and social lens – ensuring financial feasibility as well as social equity.