Currently a Student Fellow at The Paulson Institute, Jinghan Zhu is preparing for PhD and civil service exams.
Jinghan Zhu smiling in a dark blazer and white shirt
Jinghan Zhu

Jinghan Zhu, MA/MA’20, grew up in Zhejiang, a province in South China, near Shanghai. After graduating from the Communication University of China, she attended Emerson College in Boston, earning a BS in Communication Studies. Wishing to continue her training and education in media, she applied to what was originally her “dream school,” the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“Journalism professors say you should seek truth,” Zhu said. “I’m always curious: what is the best way to seek—and verify—truth? Media agenda setting or selective reporting can manipulate what truth is. I wondered, where does this bias come from, and how can I unfold the data to uncover truth? ‘Seeing is believing’ is not true anymore.”

When Zhu traveled to Chicago for her Medill interview, she said she decided to also visit the University of Chicago, having explored Harris offerings online.

“I didn’t have an appointment. I just showed up at Harris Admissions and asked if I could talk to an Admissions officer about the public policy program that I’d learned about online.”

Zhu said the Admissions office immediately organized a meeting, and Jamia Jowers “not only gave me a very warm welcome but also answered every question I had about the joint-degree two-year Master of Arts in Public Policy and International Relations program. Everyone at Harris made me feel welcome, and the advantages of the program were clear.”

After receiving offers from both Medill and Harris, Zhu said she had a tough decision to make. “Journalism school is great, but there were things I was looking for that it could not provide. My tenure at Harris gave me exactly the fundamental training I wanted.”

Zhu is preparing to be a civil servant, but she’s also interested in pursuing a doctorate in public policy. Her coursework in the dual MA program—offered jointly by Harris Public Policy and the Committee on International Relations (CIR)—allowed her to marry qualitative and quantitative methods of measuring and understanding data with a rigorous analysis of international politics.

“Two of my most memorable classes at UChicago were Program Evaluation, taught by Fiona Burlig, and Liberalism and American Foreign Policy, taught by John Mearsheimer,” Zhu says. “Burlig’s class, in addition to being extremely useful, led me towards a newfound obsession with statistical models. And Mearsheimer’s class provided me with important training and theory about the liberalism that’s deeply embedded in [U.S.] policy making, and what constitutes American identity.”

Currently a Student Fellow at The Paulson Institute, Zhu intends to spend the next six months preparing for PhD and civil service exams, interviews, and job seeking.

Zhu advises Harris students to take advantage of the school’s many fields of study and avenues of student involvement. “Keep learning, keep challenging, and keep trying different things. Don’t limit yourself to one field or study; Harris offers much more than that.”