Lee is preparing for a future advising the U.S. Army on Thailand.
Bobby Lee
Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee, incoming MAIDP student, is a U.S. Army captain currently completing a one-year program with the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, building relationships in Thailand and working alongside its military. In fall 2019, he will begin a new program: the Master of Arts in International Development and Policy (MAIDP) at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Lee’s journey to Harris Public Policy actually began with an acceptance to the Army Foreign Area Program two years ago. Against considerable competition, Lee had been invited to join the prestigious Army Foreign Area Program, a three-year training program that comprises advanced-degree holders who are “skilled in particular languages and regional issues who can serve commanders and senior policy makers as political-military advisors, military attaches, and/or security assistance experts,” according to the U.S. Army.

As part of the elite program, Lee spent his first year immersing himself in the Thai language to gain fluency. Lee has been doing in-region training at the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, where his studies are completely in Thai. He also received funding from the Army Foreign Area Program to travel throughout Southeast Asia, visit all of the U.S. embassies in the region, and become familiar with the cultures, customs, and traditions. For the final year, the program requires that Lee earn an MA in international relations or policy.

Of all the universities available to Lee through the Army Foreign Area Program, he chose Harris Public Policy because of its scientific approach to policy—an approach based on data and measurable impact.

“Harris was the most data-focused of all the programs I looked at,” said Lee. “I found that compelling. I believe that in order to be impactful, policy work has to be approached as a science, and Harris does that. They also have excellent courses related to supporting developing nations and considering questions that will be relevant to my future, like how to distribute humanitarian aid and assist in economic development.”

Harris develops leaders who ask hard questions and follow the evidence to find answers; Lee knows that the next step in his career will require him to do the same. The MAIDP will prepare him to advise on difficult decisions and to recommend and implement policies related to national security and humanitarian assistance.

“I plan to come back to Thailand. I hope to work at the US Embassy or at the Joint United States Military Advisory Group, which is a separate part of the embassy,” Lee said. “That's why I’m thankful that I got accepted to Harris because it's going to prepare me for my future role as a Foreign Area Officer or as an army attaché.”

“Harris’ prestigious reputation also doesn’t hurt,” he added.