Harris’ Evening Master’s Program allows Swift to move toward a future goal while fulfilling her current professional obligations.
Alexandra Swift
Alexandra Swift

Like many of us, Alexandra Swift, a member of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Evening Master’s Program – Cohort 2, has found that sometimes the experiences we have before college can become recurring themes throughout our lives.  

In Swift’s case, awareness of education policy’s impact on society began while she was still in high school. Now as a member of Harris’ Evening Master’s Program, she hopes to move from a position in the private sector to one in the public or nonprofit sector addressing imbalances between urban and suburban public schools.

“Growing up on Chicago’s North Shore,” Swift says, “I was well aware that the educational opportunities and resources afforded to me in an upper middle-class suburban school were not available to most CPS students. Since then, my understanding of educational inequities—across America, but most specifically in and around Chicago—has grown in complexity. But I still believe that educational public policy holds the key to building a safer, more equitable Chicago.”

Before Swift went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in economics and mathematics at Columbia University, she considered following a course of study that would enable her to impact education policy. “My parents encouraged my concern for good government,” says Swift, “but they were also worried that I wouldn’t do as well financially in the public sector. So, I used my college years to develop skills that would lead to success in a number of different professions. 

“I see going back for a master’s degree in public policy as an important step toward transitioning to a career in the public sector,” says Swift. “Yet I still need to support myself as I pursue my professional dreams. The Evening Master’s Program at Harris is flexible enough to accommodate both these needs.”

Swift also spent her college years developing her talent as a rower. “Ever since high school,” she says, “I’ve loved the camaraderie and teamwork involved [in rowing]. And in college, captaining my rowing team was a huge part of my personal development as a leader.”  

“Now I coach young girls in Chicago who want to learn the sport. For me, rowing is a clear demonstration of a valuable life lesson: when you put the work in, you get results—whether you’re competing in a race or developing a career.”

Upon graduation, Swift moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of a leadership rotation program at HubSpot, Inc., one of the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platforms where she currently works as a marketing data analyst. Yet she never lost her desire to work for the common good. “I wanted to find a way to use my talent in working with data to make a positive difference to society, communities, and individuals,” she explains.

While living in Cambridge and establishing her career at HubSpot, Swift found an outlet for this pursuit as a founding board member of Indivisible Somerville, a grass-roots group that encourages citizens to engage with and make their voices heard by local, state, and federal policymakers.  Now, as part of EMP— Cohort 2, Swift is taking another step toward working on improving the community.

“As a quant-minded individual,” says Swift, “I have long admired the Harris approach of blending data science and public policy. It seemed natural to choose Harris over other programs on that basis alone. In addition, Harris offers incredible opportunities for networking and has a strong mentoring component to help students succeed. That’s why I’m confident that the Evening Master’s Program will enable me to achieve my ultimate goal—to help improve outcomes for Chicago public school students.”