Incoming students are working professionals passionate about making a social impact.

The incoming class to the Evening Master's Program consists of 31 students, all of whom hail from diverse backgrounds and career paths. All share a common desire to use data-driven policy to improve the world, focusing in their chosen fields of banking, health care, public broadcasting development, government, finance, and child protection and welfare. Class members have an average of nine years of professional experience. Fifty percent come from not-for-profit organizations, and the remaining are evenly divided between the public and private sectors.

Members of the inaugural class will continue to work full-time with the aim of accelerating their careers, including Hemense Orkar, an associate at Goldman Sachs, who wants to explore how financial tools can be used on a national level to bridge the opportunity gap between the poor and the wealthy. He says he’s confident the Harris master’s degree will “open doors that weren’t available before.”

Other full-time professionals include Laura Chan, who does development work for Chicago public broadcasting, Grace Geremias, an HIV/STI prevention coordinator, Jamie Citron, chief of staff for development at The Barack Obama Foundation, and Ashley Deckert, a supervisor at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The class also includes a director in the Cook County Clerk’s Office, who eventually plans to run for public office, and a retired bank president who is still “unsure of what he wants to do when he grows up.”

The Evening Master’s Program was designed for students balancing work, families and civic responsibilities. According to Ranjan Daniels, associate dean for student recruitment, “Our goal is for students to engage with our world-class faculty, and then apply leading-edge UChicago frameworks to problems they face the next day at work.”

Beyond a shared commitment to making a social impact, class members express a universal appreciation for Harris’ quantitative approach, commitment to connecting the classroom to real-world problems, and built-in network. Chan, an English major who has worked in development for Chicago’s PBS and local classic radio stations for more than eight years, “knew immediately that she wanted to apply” to the Harris Evening Master’s Program.

She says, “I like the program’s data-based approach to addressing social issues, as well as the focus on looking at policy issues from different angles. The University of Chicago understands that an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh ideas. This is reflected in faculty research and the diverse cohort of students put together for this program.”

Geremias—an HIV/STI prevention program coordinator at Asian Human Services that works primarily with immigrants, refugees, and underserved communities within the city of Chicago—shares Chan’s appreciation for Harris’ evidence-based approach. “Harris is driven by science and research while also providing an impressive network of professionals.”

She adds, “I love my job and the communities I work for. The Evening MA Program will equip me with the tangible tools and resources to tackle community issues that I face at work daily and help me use policy to address socioeconomic and cultural barriers that exacerbate health inequality.”

Many class members have strong roots in Chicago and a desire to improve the city they love for those who live here. Tara Orris, who is the director of planning and development in the Cook County Clerk’s Officer, grew up in Hyde Park and “always knew about the strong academic reputation of the University of Chicago.” She hopes to “effectively use policy in [her] career to advance the causes that are important to [her] and improve people's lives” in Hyde Park, Chicago, and beyond.

"I'm impressed with the caliber and commitment of the students joining our inaugural cohort,” says Devon Reber Drehmer, associate director of student recruitment for the Evening Program. “They have diverse backgrounds and experiences and a shared commitment to sharpening their skills to amplify their social impact.”

For more information on the Evening Master’s Program, including upcoming events and deadlines for our next start date in autumn 2018, contact our admissions team.