Our students provide a first-hand perspective about what it's like to be a student at Harris Public Policy. Learn about their passion for public policy and Harris. Connect with one today.

Harris Ambassadors and Graduate Assistants are a group of students who are available to share their perspective and experiences at Harris Public Policy. They are representative of the Harris student body and passionate about their areas of study as well as their experience at Harris. Whether you have questions about the classroom experience, moving to Chicago, or their policy interests, our students are here to help! Connect with a current student on the phone or online.

Meet the Harris Ambassadors


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Terence Chau, PhD Class of 2022

Terence Chau, PhD Class of 2022

Hometown: San José, Costa Rica

Interests include: Economic History, Modernization, Labor and Migration

I'm an economist and Harris PhD student interested in topics in economic history, modernization, and migration. I'm also interested in statistical issues arising from the use of machine learning tools on historical data. I did my undergraduate studies in economics at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Before joining the PhD, I interned at the UNDP and UN-ECLAC, and was a MACRM student at Harris.

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Guo Chen, MSCAPP Class of 2023

Guo Chen, MSCAPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Interests include: Economic and Finance Policy

Prior to Harris, I received my undergrad degree at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. I majored in linguistics, with a minor in international economics and trade. It’s during my internships in finance and consulting that I realized the importance of data to address economic policy issues more efficiently. The MSCAPP program is definitely the right place for me, where I can combine computational tools with policy analysis skill sets, and step closer to “social impact, down to a science”.

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Connor Christensen, MPP/MA Class of 2024

Connor Christensen, MPP/Middle Eastern Studies Class of 2024

Hometown: Foreston, MN

Interests include: Global Conflict Resolution, International Development

I was raised in a small town in central Minnesota. After high school I served in the Navy for five years, working primarily in Spain. After falling in love with that amazing country, I got my undergraduate degree at Saint Louis University's Madrid campus. Through those years I solidified my love for international relations while gaining a new understanding of history, languages, and how connected our world truly is. I went on to study Turkish through a summer scholarship program and worked in Turkey for six months as an English instructor. I look forward to my time at the University of Chicago, both at Harris and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, as I pursue the next phase of my career and find my place in a complex, globalized world.

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Tylor Collier, MPP Class of 2023

Tylor Collier, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI

Interests include: Social Policy and Inequality, Gender and Racial Equity

I graduated with a B.A. in Social Relations and Policy, and a B.A. in Arts and Humanities from Michigan State University. Throughout my studies, I have worked to better understand how policy can improve the wellbeing of communities and how to center people in that pursuit. I am excited to continue my studies at Harris and learn how to apply my learnings to implement more equitable policy.

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Preethika Devraj Gidiya, MA Class of 2022

Preethika Devraj Gidiya, MA Class of 2022

Hometown: Trichy, India

Interests include: Education Policy, Environmental, Social and Governance Investing, and Impact Investing

I am a transactional lawyer from India with over five years of experience. I have been passionate about building inclusive communities and dispelling the inequities for marginalized communities since law school. However, it was the pandemic and the consequent glaring inequalities that motivated me to recalibrate towards the development sector. In my time at Harris, I look forward to learning from the experiences of my peers and keeping my mind open to different perspectives. Post Harris, I intend to explore options that lie at the intersection of law, policy, technology and education.

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Jo Falk, EMP Class of 2022

Jo Falk, EMP Class of 2022

Hometown: Mount Prospect, IL

Interests include: Education Policy and Health Policy

I am the Senior Program Director for Careers in Policy and Social Impact at the University of Chicago. The EMP is a great fit to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, build a robust policy analysis toolkit, and develop relationships with peers who are passionate about creating positive social change. I use what I’m learning at Harris daily to strengthen my impact in higher education administration. I look forward to my continued journey ahead, equipped with these critical qualitative and quantitative skills.

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Sasha Filippova, MSCAPP Class of 2023

Sasha Filippova, MSCAPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Sevastopol, Ukraine

Interests include: Education Policy, Municipal Finance, and Program Evaluation

Prior to Harris, I worked as a Program Manager at The Children's Trust, a non-profit organization located in Miami, Florida. In my role, I oversaw a portfolio of programs dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade county. During my time at The Children's Trust, I realized the importance of data when addressing community needs.

While at Harris, my goal is to expand my quantitative skillset and to further understand the complex nature of public policy analysis. 

I earned my undergraduate degree in Mathematics at South Carolina State University.

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Johnathan Hill, EMP Class of 2022

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Johnathan Hill, EMP Class of 2022

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Interests include: Gun violence reduction, Education, Labor, and Technology policies affecting the US's marginalized populations

I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Morehouse College. Currently, I work in social impact and serve as the Community Engagement Lead for Relativity, a SaaS legal tech company. Both in my professional and personal life, I've been driven to identify and create policies and programs that positively change outcomes for communities that have been traditionally overlooked. Leveraging what I've been able to obtain in the classroom and being able to apply it at work the next day has been extremely valuable in my experience. I am thrilled to be an EMP student continuing my studies at Harris and hope to foster my learnings in a way that allows me to scale policies that are data driven.

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Emileigh Harrison, PhD Class of 2023

Emileigh Harrison, PhD Class of 2023

Hometown: Manitowoc, WI

Policy interests include: Education Policy, Social Policy

As a PhD student at Harris, my doctoral studies are focused on education and inequality. Specifically, my research interests include non-traditional education paths such as community college and homeschooling. Before being admitted to the PhD program, I was a MACRM student at Harris.

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Victor Hinardi, MPP Class of 2023

Victor Hinardi, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia

Interests include: Economic Policy and Healthcare

I am originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. I took my undergraduate in the United States at University of Wisconsin Madison, where I majored in Food Science and Economics. I am passionate about solving public sector problems using the application of economics. My policy interests are economic and health care policies. I came to Harris to gain quantitative skills necessary to create impact in my home country, Indonesia.

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Isabelle Hirschy, MPP Class of 2022

Isabelle Hirschy, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Cary, NC

Interests include: Urban Policy, Housing, Community Development, and Civic Technology

I spent most of my career at rural development nonprofits; I came to Harris to explore policy in an urban setting. I'm passionate about creating policies that leverage the best of people, processes, and technology. I went to undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I studied political science. Getting an MPP at Harris is helping me to gain technical skills that will support my goal to work in community development.

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Lindsey Hiser, MPP Class of 2023

Lindsey Hiser, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Wixom, MI

Interests include: Economic Policy, Methods of Policy Analysis, and Technology Policy

I came to Harris to strengthen my quantitative skills, gain research experience, and expand my knowledge of various policy areas. Prior to Harris, I worked at NPR in the Development division to secure funding for national news programming and operations. I’m passionate about building programs and processes that thoughtfully address challenges facing organizations and communities, especially when those challenges arise at the intersection of policy areas.

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Erika Ishizuka, MPP Class of 2023

Erika Ishizuka, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Vienna, VA

Interests include: International Development, Finance, and Data Science

As a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, I chose Harris to deepen my understanding of economics and develop quantitative skills that are heavily used in my policy interests. I foresee being able to evaluate and strengthen the sustainability and success of development projects as well as analyze the feasibility and areas of improvement. I chose Harris to grow and learn in and out of the classroom. With immense diversity around me, I am connected with remarkable individuals that share the same passion: to make tangible change in the world.

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Brian Jan, EMP Class of 2022

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Brian Jan, EMP Class of 2022

Hometown: Fargo, ND

Policy interests include: Social Policy and Inequality, Child and Family Policy, Technology, International Development

I am originally from North Dakota, and I earned my Bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Minnesota. Before starting the Evening Master's Program, I worked for various technology firms as a software engineer. A Harris education is preparing me to make a pivot from startups and Fortune 500 companies into the policy world.

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Linhan Jiang, MPP Class of 2022

Linhan Jiang, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Chengdu, China

Policy interests include: Urban Policy, Health Policy and Economic policy

I graduated from Nankai University, with degree in Economics and visiting student experience at New York University. Before coming to Harris, I focused on policy advocacy and assessment towards a more sustainable urban development in both China and the US. I plan to enhance my analytical and leadership skills as a practitioner of “Applied Policy Science” at Harris to help companies and NGOs with their sustainable development goals in the future. The Harris community has been so supportive for me, with outstanding faculty and staff, a great mentor program, policy labs, coding, and career development resources. I have faith in the impact my fellow students and I will make.

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Sai Omar Kandukuri, MPP Class of 2023

Sai Omar Kandukuri, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Interests include: Tech Policy, Banking and Finance Policy, Data Analysis

Namaste! I am born and raised in India, and I earned my Bachelor's degree in Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani). Prior to joining Harris, I worked as a Consultant at Oracle for three years, enabling core banking transformations for major banks and financial institutions. I am passionate about utilizing data and technology to solve the pressing problems of today. I chose Harris due to its unique evidence-based/data-backed approach towards problem solving and for the diverse network of outstanding leaders, all who share the same passion of creating impact.

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Jake Lang, MPP Class of 2022

Jake Lang, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Romeo, MI

Interests include: Education Policy and Urban Policy

I’m a recent college graduate with a background in sociology and anthropology; where was I to go? Harris offered tangible, meaningful skills that gave me a step up from what I thought I had going for myself and taught me I could achieve much more. I’ve narrowed down my interests to cultural and education policy, worked with community leaders across Chicago, and presented organization-changing data analyses to the folks I’ve worked with. I’ve also had the opportunity to work as Harris’ Graduate Council Representative, co-opted my time with Harris Community Action, and led orientation just in the last year! I’m not quite sure where I’ll end up, but I know Harris has given me more than the tools I need to get there when I’ve decided.

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Sarah Lueling, MPP Class of 2023

Sarah Lueling, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Zurich, Switzerland

Interests include: Education Policy, Health Policy, Social Policy and Inequality, Child and Family Policy

I’m originally from Switzerland and earned my Bachelor's degree in Economics and Management. Prior to Harris, I worked in an education policy think tank dedicated to the improvement of education worldwide. I joined Harris in the hopes of gaining the quantitative and analytical skills needed to create evidence based policies in education.

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Emily Madalena, MPP Class of 2022

Emily Madalena, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Policy interests include: Economic Development and Policy Analysis

Prior to Harris, I worked for five years with healthcare claims and eligibility data as a research and content consultant. While I earn my MPP, I aim to augment my policy analysis skills and formalize my knowledge on economic development. With these new skills, I know I will be well-prepared to work in pursuit of my passion: answering questions that ultimately lead to the betterment of others. I currently am a copyeditor for the Chicago Police Review and I look forward to getting involved with the Harris community and Chicago at large.

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Andrea Mariño Varela, MPP Class of 2022

Andrea Mariño Varela, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Policy interests include: Political economy, Inequality, International Development, and Global conflict

I am driven to work on building solutions for today’s society problems. After pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Journalism from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, I knew my career purpose was to make a difference through policy work. Before coming to Harris, I served as an advisor at the Colombian National Land Agency where the Comprehensive Rural Reform, the first pillar of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerrilla, is being executed. Previously, I worked at the Colombian House of Representatives as an advisor to the President of the Constitutional First Commission; as press assistant to former Colombian Vice President and Chief Negotiator in the peace process with the FARC-EP guerrilla, Humberto De La Calle, during his presidential campaign; and as a consultant in public affairs and strategic communications in the private sector. I joined Harris' MPP program to acquire the leadership skills and precise decision-making tools to ultimately learn how to impact lives throughout engaged and well-structured policy initiatives.

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Brad McCandless, MPP Class of 2022

Brad McCandless, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Eastchester, NY

Interests include: Energy and Environmental Policy, Finance

Brad studied Political Science and International Relations at Northwestern University. Now, he on the executive board for Harris Tech, a student organization focused on technology policy.

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Ezra Serrins, MPP Class of 2023

Ezra Serrins, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Austin, TX

Interests include: Healthcare, Urban Policy, and Transportation Policy

I have long been interested in public policy and wanted to strengthen my understanding with an emphasis on evidence-based learning. As an undergraduate student at Michigan State, my career focused on theory-based and qualitative methods approaches, which was helpful in developing my lens. I chose to attend the Harris School because I felt Harris' emphasis on evidence-based and data-driven public policy would complement and expand my existing lens

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Jeongmin Shin, MPP Class of 2023

Jeongmin Shin, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Incheon, South Korea

Interests include: Education Policy, Human Rights, and Environmental Policy

After earning Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Korea University, I worked for an airline company for four years. Through my volunteering experiences, I got interested in educational policies for children and women in marginalized communities. I joined Harris to learn and polish quantitative skills in order to be a policy analyst creating positive social impacts.

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John Spence, MPP Class of 2023

John Spence, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Interests include: Income inequality, Public Finance, and Urban Policy

Prior to moving to Chicago, I was born and raised in Nashville. After high school, I moved to Ecuador for a year before attending Williams College and majoring in political economy. Upon graduating from Williams, I came to Chicago to work in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Now, I'm at Harris in the MPP program.

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Allison Swimmer, MPP Class of 2023

Allison Swimmer, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Glencoe, IL

Interests include: Education Policy and Municipal Finance

Prior to Harris, I taught high school English in New York City, which exposed me to the lack of equity in our country's public school system and the myriad shortcomings of several other public services. At Harris, I hope to strengthen my quantitative skills that I can use in tandem with the insight I gained from my prior work experience. Collaborating with professors and peers who are equally mission-driven has allowed me to expand my understanding of policy sectors and professional network in a very meaningful way!

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Karla Tamez
Karla Tamez, MPP Class of 2023

Karla Tamez, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico

Interests include: Data Analytics and International Devleopment

I graduated from Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico, with a degree in International Studies. For five years, I worked in Cómo Vamos Nuevo León, a non-profit that advocates for government accountability and evaluates public affairs programs through data and indicators. I am sure the MPP will enhance my analytical and quantitative skills in order to formulate evidence-based policies for the most pressing issues.

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Simiao Wang
Simiao Wang, MPP Class of 2023

Simiao Wang, MPP Class of 2023

Hometown: Beijing, China

Interests include: Finance, Education Policy, and Economic Development

I came to Harris to study public policy, using data as a tool to make policy that can benefit the society. I graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a major in Managerial Economics. During my undergraduate, I learned a lot about social welfare, and I hope to continue this course through my study here at Harris. Having worked as a teaching assistant since 2017, I am very interested in the education field. With excellent fellows, various programs, and helpful resources, the Harris community is a very awesome team. I hope to pass the spirit, love, and help I gained from Harris to impact more students.

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June Yom, MPP Class of 2022

June Yom, MPP Class of 2022

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Interests include: International Economic Development, Municipal Finance, Higher Education, Housing and Urban Policy, and Transportation

Hi y'all, I am a Tar Heel born and bred. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I majored in Global Studies and Public Policy. I am passionate about Asian American advocacy, and I was a leader in the establishment of the Asian American Center at UNC-CH. My interests include sustainable international development and municipal finance. At Harris, I am strengthening my quantitative skills and building a professional network enthusiastic about making a positive impact

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