Each year, at least one incoming student is awarded a Harris Alumni Fellowship. The Fellowship was launched in 2012 by the Harris Alumni Council in an effort to show support for exceptional students with a significant annual scholarship. 

This year’s recipient is Shannon Gedo, MPP Class of 2020, a Los Angeles native with a passion for expanding opportunities for young people. 

Shannon Gedo

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Los Angeles, California and attended Los Angeles Public Schools.  I attended UC Berkeley for my undergraduate degree, focusing on Political Economy as my major and minoring in Art History.

After I graduated, I moved across the country and taught 5th grade in Detroit through the Teach for America Program. After my time in Detroit, I taught English in rural Malaysia as a Fulbright grantee. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding about a different country’s education system, especially one as diverse and different as Malaysia. During my Fulbright, I learned about the parallels and differences between the Malaysian and American education systems, especially surrounding issues of educational inequity versus opportunity.

After my time in Malaysia, I moved to the Pacific Northwest and joined EVERFI, an education technology company that focuses on closing the gaps in education surrounding life skills. I worked with the WA Department of Education, school districts, and K-12 schools to support their teachers with implementation of EVERFI’s free, online programs.

As a product of public education, I’ve focused my work on making an impact in the education sector, both locally as a teacher and on a larger scale through my role with EVERFI. I’m passionate about my work supporting high need schools and communities, and thinking about how equity plays a role in education space. In the past six years, I have learned a lot from my various roles, but I’m excited to continue to grow and learn at Harris. 

Why Harris? Why now?

I knew that I chose the right school on the Admitted Students Day in March. I had a great time getting to know more about the opportunities through Harris and learning about other potential students. The culture at Harris is both fun and invigorating. I really value relationship and community building, so I’m excited to learn and engage with classmates, professors, and community members during my time here.

Above all, Harris offered me the best possible way to grow not only in my studies, but also while developing my personal interests and passions.

During my time here, I believe it’s important that I learn and build concrete quantitative skills,  focusing on how data can be analyzed to make policies more effective. The quantitative focus of Harris gives me this opportunity. I also love the close proximity we have to the different applied research labs and organizations, such as the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab (BIP).

I will be working at the BIP Lab, where I will learn more about Head Start preschools across West and South Chicago. I’ll be focusing on specific research projects, working with families and collecting survey data about behavioral interventions and educational initiatives for their children’s success.

What are you planning on doing with your Harris education?

Harris will help me continue my career trajectory. With my new quantitive background and abilities, I hope to use those skills to continue my work in the public sector, focusing on education and social policy for youth. My long-term goal would be to focus on public sector work, working for local or state government or an education nonprofit.

I’m so glad that the Harris Alumni Fellowship will help me continue the work I’m most passionate about, which is advocating for youth. This fellowship has made a real impact on me, just like I want to make an impact in the public sector.