The Orientation Staff members are returning Harris students who return to campus early to help make sure you're integrated into a community of future policy leaders. They are the backbone of the orientation experience and are here to foster community amongst the incoming class, advocate for your needs, and provide guidance on resources and policies you need to know to be a successful graduate student.

This year's Orientation Staff will be announced in early spring. Get to know last year's staff below!


Headshot of Kusala Molligoda
Kusala Molligoda, MPP

Kusala Molligoda, MPP

Orientation Program Manager 

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Environmental & Energy policy specific to Ocean Conservation
  • Undergraduate Institution: Knox College
  • Hometown: Colombo

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“To get the best out of the Harris experience, contribute to the UChicago community as much as possible! Whether it is preparing for the core prior to fall term, participating in student government or being involved with local organizations in and around the university, make sure to build lasting connections during your time here!”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“Harris provides a solid foundation in economics and statistical research methods as well as a wide range of electives. This, in combination with the freedom to work on research projects alongside some of the most accomplished faculty in the world makes learning at Harris a multifaceted graduate experience.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“Being an Orientation Leader/Project Manager presents a unique opportunity to connect with existing faculty, staff and peers as well as engage with incoming students, easing their transition into the Harris community.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Environmental Science & Policy”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“In my free time I try to maintain a mix of outdoor activities and gaming with friends, albeit in recent times it's definitely been more of the latter...I'm a strong proponent of gaming with professors - it brings out a side of them you'd otherwise never get to see”

Fun Fact about Kusala: I tell people that I was once bitten by a crocodile, only to later reveal that it was a hatchling.


Headshot of Victoria Sellas
Victoria Sellas, MPP

Victoria Sellas, MPP

Orientation Program Manager

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Urban Policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: Ferris State University
  • Hometown: Big Rapids, MI

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Students new to Harris can make the most of their experience by finding some way to get involved, whether that be by attending events, joining a student organization, or taking advantage of any of the great things that Harris, UChicago, and the city itself have to offer!”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I am studying public policy at Harris because I want to learn how to best use my education and personal experiences to create social impact through policy. What made me the most excited about attending Harris is the school's commitment to putting evidence first.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I am a Program Manager instead of an Orientation Leader, but I wanted to serve as a PM because orientation was an impactful experience for me as a new student and I want to be able to take part in providing that same experience to the incoming students.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“So far my favorite class has been Analytical Politics 1, but I can't wait to take more electives!”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I like to spend my free time painting and going for walks.”

Fun Fact about Victoria: A fun fact about me is that I am a certified forklift driver.


Headshot of Andres Crucetta Nieto
Andres Crucetta Nieto, MSCAPP

Andres Crucetta Nieto, MSCAPP

Orientation Leader for Chatham Polis

  • Degree Program: MSCAPP
  • Area of Specialization: Data Science & Data Visualization
  • Undergraduate Institution: Texas A&M University
  • Hometown: Maracaibo, Venezuela

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Walk around Hyde Park, visit local stores, take the train up north and visit new neighborhoods! There's a lot you can discover by using public transportation in the city.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I came to Harris to learn how to use technology and data to create healthier communities and help people get better access to government services”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I want to help people feel welcome in Chicago and find their community”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Advanced Statistics with Bruce Meyer! I'm looking forward to taking web development at the Computer Science department.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Biking, playing the piano, and making italian food (anything with bread)”

Fun Fact about Andres: I did improv comedy for a year in Chicago before Harris 


Headshot of Bura Jap
Bura Jap, MPP

Bura Jap, MPP

Orientation Leader for Kenwood Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida
  • Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Get involve with student organizations ASAP and talk to everyone.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I want to find ways to increase equity for disadvantaged communities through evidence based policy.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I want to help create community for incoming students and provide any additional support to immigrant /first generation students.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“AP2  with Professor Martinez”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Watching skincare videos and going to national parks.”

Fun Fact about Bura: I am originally from Myanmar. My family immigrated to the U.S when I was nine. 


Headshot of Jake Lang
Jake Lang, MPP

Jake Lang, MPP

Orientation Leader for Douglass Park Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: I'm really interested in working in arts/culture policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Chicago
  • Hometown: Bruce Township, MI

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago?

“Students can take the time to look well beyond the classroom. Joining new organizations, connecting with undergrads and students from other divisions, and especially taking the time to get to know the city have been my favorite parts of really getting the most out of Harris and the university”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I'm studying public policy at Harris because I want to work knowing I have the skills to bring new insights, challenge existing conditions, and play a valuable role on a team in the future.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I wanted to serve as an OL because I wanted the chance to bring my energy and excitement for being at Harris to incoming students, ensuring they have the best welcome to the school they can get, and helping to create a home for students at Harris”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“I'm most excited for the Economics of Cultural Policy that I'm taking this Spring, but the GIS course is a close second”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I paint, skateboard, and, lately, I've taken to baking a lot”

Fun Fact about Jake: I mainly paint miniatures, so everything is about 28-32mm tall 


Headshot of Christian Navarro
Christian Navarro, MPP

Christian Navarro, MPP

Orientation Leader for South Chicago Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP 
  • Undergraduate Institution: Morehouse College
  • Hometown: Brick Township, New Jersey

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Students new to Harris can make the most of their experience by establishing connections early and often. Joining a student organization and attending UChicago events/seminars would be a great first step!”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I'm studying public policy at Harris to acquire the necessary skills/tools to be a successful Foreign Service Officer (FSO) with the U.S. State Department after graduation.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I wanted to serve as an Orientation Leader because this position provides me with the opportunity to share/reflect on my experience at the Harris School. By sharing my story, I hope I can inspire incoming students to step outside their comfort zone and pursue their ambitions/goals with the utmost confidence.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“My favorite class at Harris has been Political Economics of Developing Countries.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“During my free time I love traveling, reading, taking light naps, and watching anime.”

Fun Fact about Christian: I worked at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and attended the 2018 MLS Cup and Super Bowl LIII. 


Headshot of Ningning Lin
Ningning Lin, MPP

Ningning Lin, MPP

Orientation Leader for Back of the Yards Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Urban Development/Smart Cities
  • Hometown: Ningbo, China

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Engage with fellow students and Harris Student Organizations as much as you can”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“Harris always gives me a sense of community, I feel welcomed, recoginized and I want to be part of creating such an experience for others.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Working on my own air fryer recipes”


Headshot of Adam Leader-Smith
Adam Leader-Smith, MPP

Adam Leader-Smith, MPP 

Orientation Leader for Little Village Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Higher Education & Technology/Privacy
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Hometown: Jenkintown, PA (just outside Philadelphia)

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“I haven't been able to make the most of Chicago yet due to the pandemic, but I have been really thankful for Harris Student Organizations, and for chances to work in groups with fellow students. I've established a lot of good friendships already with other members of the Harris community without having met any of them face to face yet!”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“Before coming to Harris, I worked at Georgetown University in their center for teaching and learning. Working there introduced me to many interesting questions about the future of higher education. To whom is higher education accessible, and should more people be going to college? How can universities improve as an engine for increasing social mobility and reducing inequality? How will colleges and universities adapt to technological progress, and how can they better protect students' rights and their privacy? I'm hoping to translate the skills I learn at Harris into a career at the intersection of higher education and technology policy to help institutions answer these kinds of questions.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I am excited to meet and support a new generation of Harris students, and to help them get settled and prepare for a successful experience here.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“As intimidating as people find the core, I am really enjoying the opportunity to learn how to program and R and how to conduct rigorous, well-designed research projects.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Reading, cooking & food, running, video & tabletop games, trivia”

Fun Fact about Adam: When I was in high school, I was in a touring choir that performed across South Africa and Japan (don't ask me to sing now, though, it's been a long time!)  


Headshot of Sophie Lemisch
Sophie Lemisch, MPP

Sophie Lemisch, MPP

Orientation Leader

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Data Science and Environmental Policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
  • Hometown: Royal Oak, MI

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Meet their peers! Your classmates are an incredible resource not only for study groups but for finding out cool internship opportunities, interesting classes, and much needed moral support.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“Public Policy can be a really powerful tool for sustainable change. I'm passionate about waste management and environmental protections. While being a conscious consumer and individual can help the climate crisis, large scale public policy is needed to ensure an equitable future.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“Harris is a huge and impressive school and it can be really overwhelming trying to find all its amazing opportunities. I wanted to share some of the programs, groups, and opportunities I've found at Harris and help future students feel like they belong and are going to thrive here.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“I'm currently taking a GIS class with Ned English that I'm really excited about. Spatial visualization of data is a quick and effective way to show a correlation, plus making maps is fun!”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I'm a huge fan of biking so you can usually find me on lakefront trail. I'm all about bike safety so I'm very visible in neon, hard to miss.”


Headshot of Jose Lara
Jose Lara, MPP

Jose Lara, MPP

Orientation Leader for South Shore Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Data Analysis and Finance Policy
  • Undergraduate Institution: Universidad de la Salle
  • Hometown: Mexico

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Talking with the Harris community. They will share all the pros and cons they have found.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I decided to study public policy at Harris because I am looking to expand my knowledge and my perspective from a analytical perspective. This definitely will help me to solve some of the most complex problems that I have found in my country.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“It can be hard to start an MPP program in the University of Chicago. I believe, through my knowledge and experience, I can help new students to make it easier this change.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Analytical Policy”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Watching movies, reading, doing exercise.”

Fun Fact about Jose: Despite I from Mexico, but I do not like a lot of the local food. (I really hate beans) 


Headshot of Julia Miller
Julia Miller, MPP

Julia Miller, MPP

Orientation Leader for Woodlawn Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Undergraduate Institution: Tufts University
  • Hometown: Lawrenceville, NJ

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Utilize Math Camp, Orientation and the first few weeks of school to reach out to people in your Polis, TA sessions or programming/events and make connections.  Collaboration and camaraderie are important throughout grad school, but especially the Core.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I wanted to build up my quantitative skillset for crafting and evaluating policy solutions, and identify my area of focus within social policy (currently interested in gender and workplace policy, and reproductive rights).”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“My own experience with Harris Orientation greatly impacted my first quarter, introducing me to peers, Harris Student Organizations and a toolkit of community resources I used throughout the Core.  I wanted to serve as a resource for incoming students and help them to build community virtually and in person.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“I'm really looking forward to taking Workplace and Family Policy this quarter!”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Spending time with friends, running, listening to music, exploring Chicago”

Fun Fact about Julia: I've performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!


Headshot of Ana Camila Vasquez
Ana Camila Vasquez, MPP

Ana Camila Vasquez, MPP

Orientation Leader for Chinatown Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: International Development & Conflict, with special focus on children and education.
  • Undergraduate Institution: Universidad Catolica Andres Bello
  • Hometown: Caracas

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“I would say that by taking the time to actually explore the city and its people. There are so many stories to tell within Chicago, that you only need to be willing to listen and open to the experience, by taking a random train to see new places, writing to new classmates, and being as proactive as possible with engagement activities!”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I came to Harris because as an economist, artist and social worker I learned how much innovative initiatives in culture can promote self-empowerment and freedom. I think that something is particularly useful for victims of violence dealing with the aftermath of trauma, who might lose this feeling of autonomy in the hands of the perpetrator. Growing in one of the most conflicted and unequal societies of Latin America, has made me want to better understand the causes of multi-causal crisis that like in my home country, have affected so many lives and particularly in childhood and youth. From Harris I want to learn how to implement technical and quantitative tools to conduct evidence-based research in not so well studied issues in Venezuela.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“Because of the opportunity I had to actually experience in front row how inspiring, welcoming and encouraging Harris and its community is beyond its academic excellence, I was able to work on my path for making what some might call "impossible" in my home country a reality (to come abroad to study in a high-quality institution as UChicago). This was in great amount thanks to the amazing people from Harris student leaders and orientation team that helped me back then. Now, I want to turn my gratitude into opportunities for more people like me, that sees Harris as a dream more than a possibility, by sharing my experience.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Currently my favorite class is being Program Evaluation with Professor Burling and Conflict & Humanitarian Interventions with Professor Wolfe. I am also looking forward to take Jens Ludwig class”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I like to spend my time taking (and also teaching) dance lessons. Besides Harris I am also a professional hip hop dancer, so you can find me at studio taking as many classes as possible”

Fun Fact about Ana Camila: I am obsessed with crime stories in general, so I got myself as birthday gift two years ago the Chicago Crime tour ticket, night shift! (spooky indeed)


Headshot of Sofia Potes
Sofia Potes, MPP

Sophia Potes, MPP

Orientation Leader for Pilsen Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Social and Economic Development
  • Undergraduate Institution: Tec de Monterrey
  • Hometown: Chicago, IL

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Try to organize themselves to study during the week so that they are able to make friends and get to know the city during the weekends.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I want to strengthen my quantitative skills, get better at coding, and have a stronger network of colleagues in public policy.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I had a great experience during Orientation and would love to help new students prepare for their life at Harris like my OL did!”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Economic Growth and Development”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I love to run and go get brunch during the weekends, do yoga, hang out with friends.”


Headshot of Andrea Araceli Salas Laura
Andrea Araceli Salas Laura, MPP

Andrea Araceli Salas Laura, MPP

Orientation Leader for Bridgeport Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: International Development
  • Undergraduate Institution: Universidad del Pacfico
  • Hometown: Lima

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“It is important to make conextion with other students, is a crutial part of the international component of the Program. A good strategy for that is to take advange of the different organizations at Harris and all the events.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“Because of the quantitative component of the program.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“Because OL was such a crutial part in my induction to the Harris Community. Even at the distance (due to COVID), the Polis made me fill part of an international community. So, I wanted to give back a little bit to the community and make this good experience possible for other students”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking?

“My favorite class, until now, was AP II. I took it with Luis Martinez. I simply loved it.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I have 3 options: i) watching a movie or documentary, ii) cooking or iii) watercolor painting or doing jewelry.”


Headshot of Sebastian Clavijo
Sebastian Clavijo, MPP

Sebastian Clavijo, MPP

Orientation Leader for Englewood Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • Hometown: New York City

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago?

“Be engaged. Harris has a lot to offer with academics and providing students the opportunity to do research or work with professors and faculty. Obviously Harris is part of UChicago and therefore there will always be opportunities to reach out and engage with students/programs in other schools if you are interested. Lastly, Chicago is great. It offers a lot of great food, lovely museums and you can easily find hidden gems throughout the city. Please please please, ask away for any recommendations to do in the city.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader?

“To engage with new students and help them acclimate to Hyde Park, UChicago and the Harris family as a whole.” 


Headshot of Qiwei Lin
Qiwei Lin, MSCAPP

Qiwei Lin, MSCAPP

Orientation Leader for Bronzeville Polis

  • Degree Program: MSCAPP
  • Area of Specialization: International Development and Policy, Data Science
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • Hometown: Hainan Island, China

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“Connect with others at Harris and UChicago. You might be amazed by how your course planning at Harris and career planning after graduation are shaped by your peers.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I want to pursue a career at the intersection of international development and data science. Harris attracts me with its reputation in international development and policy, and the rigorous education on computational analysis it provides through the MSCAPP program.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader?

“I really appreciate the support I received last year from my orientation leader and hope that I can help the incoming students in the same way.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking? 

“Economic Development and Policy by Amir Jina and look forward to Women, Development, and Politics.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Most of the time, I enjoy watching TV series, movies and playing video games. Occasionally, I love to watch great lecture recordings that would never be made online if not for Covid-19.”

Fun Fact about Qiwei: I might have chosen to study theology and religious study in UK in 2017 had I not been admitted to University of Michigan. 


Headshot of Alexandria Cedergren
Alexandria Cedergren, MPP

Alexandria "Allie" Cedergren, MPP

Orientation Leader for Washington Park Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Energy and Environment with Sustainable Development
  • Undergraduate Institution: Michigan State University
  • Hometown: Libertyville, IL

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago? 

“At Harris and UChicago I think it is really important to find those lasting connections because graduate school is very different as we are all in different places in our lives and have experienced so many different things others have not. For the city of Chicago I urge everyone to try and experience all neighborhoods in Chicago as much as they can.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris? 

“I want to make a difference in the world using evidence-based policy to combat climate change while also addressing the marginalized communities that are feeling the impacts already from environmental degradation.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader? 

“I want to be helpful to the new cohort of Harris students as they transition to life at Harris and possibly life in Chicago. This city has been my home all my life and I am excited to help others learn about it's beauty and what it has to offer.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking?

“I'm excited for continuing with electives focusing on environmental policy!”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“I take care of my dog, exercise (mainly running!), spend time with friends and read or watch TV.”

Fun Fact about Allie: I lived in the Dominican Republic for 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer!


Headshot of Rukmini Bhugra
Rukmini Bhugra, MPP

Rukmini Bhugra, MPP

Orientation Leader for Hyde Park Polis

  • Degree Program: MPP
  • Area of Specialization: Education, Family and Child Policy, Program Design and Impact Evaluation
  • Undergraduate Institution: The College of William and Mary
  • Hometown: Lucknow, India

How can students new to Harris make the most of their experience? At Harris, UChicago, or in the city of Chicago?

“Get to know second year students, because they'll help offer a macro lay of the land for academics and professional development, as well as just advice managing the responsibilities and opportunities related to being a student. Make the time to get to know members of your class; it's often as important and enriching as class content! Be intentional about the experiences you want to have at grad school, and use them as a guide to decide course/internship/job choices.”

Why are you studying public policy at Harris?

“My experience in international development revealed to me an urgent need for intentional and well-designed policy interventions, supported by a rigorous, scientific approach - based on an integration of data, and regular evaluation. I chose to pursue my MPP at Harris, because I know this program will help me build exactly the analytical skillset I want to build as a development practitioner.”

Why did you want to serve as an Orientation Leader?

“I'd like to offer my experience at Harris thus far as a resource to our incoming community members. I'm also excited to get to know members of the newest class, and hear their stories.”

What has been your favorite class, or which class are you looking forward to taking?

“Although fast-paced, I really enjoyed the Stats core sequence. I'm also currently enjoying Data and Programming and Program Evaluation.”

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Listening to music and cooking, going for a walk or run, spending time with friends.”

Fun Fact about Rukmini: I've chased/swum with wild dolphins in the Pacific Ocean.