Bharadwaj combines his background in data and technology with his public policy skills to evaluate and implement solutions in the education system.
Headshot of Shashank Bharadwaj
Shashank Bharadwaj

Shashank Bharadwaj draws much of his inspiration from his parents. “They moved to the US from India in the late 1980s to pursue their PhDs because they valued education and wanted to set their kids up for those opportunities. This importance was instilled in me at a very young age, and I used that as motivation to apply to Harris.”

Bharadwaj earned his bachelor of science in industrial engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013. After graduation, he moved to DC, where he worked in consulting at IBM. In 2015, he moved to Seattle and worked in multiple engineering positions at Amazon for the next five years. But right before the pandemic, Bharadwaj began to feel like he needed a change.

“I felt disconnected from my work. I wanted to pursue something I was more passionate about. I always wanted to work in the education space, but I did not have the background.”

Bharadwaj said his volunteer experience at Mind Matters in Seattle magnified his interest in education policy. “I was tutoring and mentoring high schoolers from low-income families. I liked working with bright kids who lacked resources, had parents who were immigrants, or did not know the US education and university systems. It reminded me of my parents, who had to learn to navigate many new systems when they came to the US.”

With this motivation from his family and volunteer experience combined with his background in tech and data, Bharadwaj decided that a graduate education was his next step. At first, he considered an education-policy-specific program, but after discovering the MS in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) program, he knew that it was the right fit. “The CAPP program allowed me to apply my background to my policy interests while also learning programming and data science,” he said.

While he was a student, Bharadwaj took advantage of the exceptional courses and opportunities Harris offers. “Courses like Education in Developing Contexts with Assistant Professor Anjali Adukia and Writing for Public Policy Professionals with David Chrisinger perfectly supplemented the computer science courses in the MSCAPP program,” Bharadwaj said.  “I especially enjoyed Professor Adukia’s class where I was able to gain a new perspective about education in an international context, which was something with which I had no experience. It changed my thinking about public education because I was able to see different systems and their outcomes compared to the systems of the United States.”

Bharadwaj said he owes many of his successes in his degree and career outcomes to the support he had during his time at Harris. “I take any chance I can to shout-out the CAPP advisors and professors. They were caring, dedicated, and worked to make sure we had the best experience in the program.”

Today, Bharadwaj combines the skills from his tech background with his new knowledge from Harris as a fellow at the Strategic Data Project through Harvard University. There, he will spend two years working as an Evaluation Analyst with Alexandria Public Schools in Virginia. “I am working on developing a way to measure and track the success of policy interventions in classrooms. We want to evaluate which are helpful and which improve efficiency. These interventions have become increasingly important with learning losses due to the pandemic.”

Bharadwaj said his work so far has been personally gratifying. “I saw the societal inequities and growing opportunity gap and knew I wanted to do something to help. Harris exposed me to new perspectives and ways of thinking about education, so now I am using that to evaluate and recommend solutions.”