The acceptance email from Harris changed everything. At the time I was working on developing a business model for a Chilean company. I was under a lot of pressure. And I wasn’t sure I was doing what I really wanted to do. The simple word “congratulations” on a maroon colored piece of paper magically healed me.   

Harris is “THE school’” to me. My undergraduate degree was in Economics, so I was looking for a public policy program with an element of Econ. I knew I would focus a lot of my graduate work on economic policy, but a degree specific to economic policy would limit my career options. However, with an MPP degree, I have the flexibility to apply for jobs in other policy areas, such as international relations. The MPP program is a great fit for me because it opens possibilities for more career options.

One of my favorite things about the Harris MPP is that we are allowed to choose up to six courses outside of Harris. When I began applying to graduate schools, I thought I might later apply for a doctoral program, so finding a program that allows students to choose electives that open possibilities for pursuing different paths was important to me. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Harris allows you to do just that. I could utilize these opportunities to take courses from the Economics department or School of Social Service Administration, for example.

I always wanted to gain more action-based academic experience. I was looking for “hands-on” learning opportunities to analyze, develop, advocate for, and help drive the execution of effective policy solutions in a real-world context. I wanted to engage with real issues and help actual client organizations.

That’s why I was so excited about Harris Policy Labs. In Policy Labs, second-year Harris students work in teams to tackle issues faced by clients operating in a variety of policy areas across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. We participated in projects related to improving school choice, analyzing outpatient clinic care, and creating an innovative tool to analyze labor standards. We also created an analytic framework for the University of Chicago Medicine's new trauma center.

I was also on team Chapin Hall/CHA to form the basis of a new initiative by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The goal was to engage and support rising ninth graders and their families in choosing the best fit and high-quality high schools. We received advice from faculty throughout the entire process, from how to greet clients, to how to deliver final presentations and white papers.

The course was intense but very fulfilling. And it helps that the faculty at UChicago are very friendly and responsive to emails.

When I first came to Harris, I was interested in many different concentrations and professional roles. I had no idea which one would be the best fit for me. Between the exciting summer internships, intense but rewarding RA positions, and projects with my fellow Harristas, I was able to discover what I am good at and most enjoy doing.

I will continue to explore the world with my passion for policy, but now with a much clearer direction.