Short uses the programming and analysis skills learned during the Data Analytics Credential to inform financial decisions in his role as a manager at Corteva Agriscience.
Headshot of Spencer Short
Spencer Short

Born and raised in Colo, Iowa—a rural town of about 800 people—Spencer Short, PAC'23, said an opportunity during his senior year at high school cemented his interest in research and policy. “I participated in a program with the Iowa Legislature with about 30 other students in the state. The experience of working with so many wildly smart and confident people put me on a path of pursuing research and policy analysis.”

After graduating from high school, Short moved to Des Moines to attend Drake University, where he earned a BA in international relations with an emphasis on American policy creation and human rights. "I've always been interested in research and data analysis, but my undergraduate studies primarily focused on finding already completed research and compiling results. I wasn't yet performing statistics or data analysis.”

Short subsequently began working at Corteva Agriscience as a research associate in the wheat genetics department. “I was the floor lead for all our contractors and other experiment aids and helped run genetic experiments on wheat crop lines. Although I don't have a STEM degree, the combination of my background—family farm ownership and past work experience—and interest in research allowed me to perform the work.”

Short soon realized he needed additional education in coding and analysis to achieve his long-term goals. "Being able to conduct data analysis on my own was something that interested me. When I began exploring programs, the University of Chicago Harris Policy Analytics Credential (PAC) offered exactly what I sought."

Short said the program delivered on all counts. “I had done free online classes elsewhere, but that was nothing like the knowledge I gained during PAC. Plus, the TAs were invaluable: not only did they provide coding help—they also helped me with graduate school applications and career advice."

The program’s flexibility and diversity was also something Short appreciated. “I still had to dedicate my time to it, but it was manageable with my other responsibilities. It was also great to have an international group of participants. Coming from a fairly small town and college, I really valued the diverse perspectives from fellow program participants.”

As for program outcomes, Short said his PAC experience led to a promotion and a doubling of his income. “The amount of data analysis I led at my company grew as a result of the skills I gained, and as a result, I began speaking with others in my department who needed help with data analysis projects. Within a month, I moved up to a new managerial position—entirely based on my Harris PAC experience and the hard skills I gained from the program. Now, my data work in R has been used to inform millions of dollars of spending by Corteva Agriscience.”

Short also saw personal benefits from the PAC. “It's taken a long time for me to be able to be who I want to be. I now know that I can succeed on my own…and my experience with the Harris PAC was a big part of this realization."