Haded looks forward to working hands-on with the Urban Labs to address disparities on the south side of Chicago, where he grew up.
Francisco Haded, Headshot
Francisco Haded

Francisco Haded draws his inspiration to pursue his Master of Public Policy (MPP) from his mother and father. Haded’s father immigrated with his family to the United States from Ecuador as a young child, and became a US citizen when he was 21. “My dad has worked as a mechanic his entire life. Although he never completed high school, he strongly encouraged me to pursue my college education. And I remember as a kid watching my mom studying at the kitchen table and on the living room floor to become an accountant. She completed her degree, and worked as a CPA for several years before becoming a teacher. We are all incredibly proud of her. I want to follow in her footsteps.”

With the support of his parents, Haded completed his associate’s degree in Political Science from City Colleges of Chicago. “I felt especially fortunate to complete my first step of higher education with that degree: City Colleges have some of the lowest completion rates, and while there, I saw firsthand the gaps in resources that left many students behind in terms of financial aid, public transit, mental health resources, and more. This was just one example of the disparities I had seen growing up in the city that disproportionately affected minority communities.” His success at City Colleges also inspired him as he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at UIC, graduating summa cum laude in 2019.

During and after UIC, Haded pursued internships at Americorps, in the Illinois Justice Corps program, and Ascend Justice Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, helping low-income immigrant families seek pro bono legal aid and offering translation services. “In both of these roles, I realized that the system was set up with poor access for underserved groups: immigrants and victims of domestic violence relied a lot on volunteers for legal aid and translation services.”

Haded realized that the solution to these access barriers would require broader policy changes, so he decided to pursue his Master of Public Policy (MPP).

He had known about UChicago’s reputation from growing up in the city: “UChicago was a dream school for me, and it’s very close to me because I live on the south side. The way the university works in conjunction with civic engagement groups—not just existing in a bubble within the community—was really important to me. The ability to tangibly improve my immediate surroundings is a huge draw. I knew what the researchers were talking about in articles about income inequality in these neighborhoods—I’ve driven through them. I am very interested in the Urban Labs—particularly the Poverty Lab—and the hands-on work they are doing in terms of crime prevention, education outcomes, and decreasing inequity. I’m eager to engage in the gritty, on-the-ground things happening right in my neighborhood.”

At Harris, Haded also looks forward to studying wealth inequality, criminal justice, and immigration policy. He plans to bring the skills he learns at Harris to work in the public sector on these issues. “When I first graduate, I imagine a lot of the work I will be doing will be implementing the policies others enact. Ten years from now, though, I would like to be in a leadership position in an NGO where I can have more creative freedom, suggesting evidence-based policies to close opportunity gaps.”

Haded shared his advice for applicants: “Don’t be afraid to tell your personal story. You don’t need to describe yourself as you appear on your resume or as the ideal candidate—share your struggles as well as your hopes for the future.”