Budz seeks to connect his undergraduate work in neuroscience with policy to improve health policy.
Headshot of Jakub
Jakub Budz

"In my immediate family, I'm the oldest of four and the first to attend college," said Jakub Budz, MPP Class of 2025. "I consider it important to be a role model to my siblings, and I think it makes my parents proud: they've always wanted me to do the most I can." 

Budz, who recently earned his BA in neuroscience from The University of Chicago, said when his brother visited him and saw the school, he was inspired to go to college. "Now, he's currently finishing his undergrad at UIC and plans to pursue a masters in engineering."

Budz said he'd originally planned to apply to med school after completing his BA but decided against that in his last year and picked up a minor in health and society instead. "That class changed my path. It exposed me to Harris faculty and coursework, and I fell in love with the professors, the school, and everything Harris is about."  

Two Harris faculty in particular stood out. "Professors Joshua Gottlieb and Kavi Bhalla were outstanding,” said Budz.  

“I had a health markets and regulation class with Professor Gottlieb, and it was a microeconomics course centered on a particular disease and policies surrounding it. What made Gottlieb so expectational was that everybody in our class was an undergrad with little to no experience in economics or policy…and somehow he managed to teach all of us microeconomics while tackling the policy issues.” 

A particularly resonant part of Gottlieb’s course, Budz said, was that it happened to focus on Alzheimer's—a neurological disease. “When I was very young, my dad injured his foot, and the reconstruction involved a lot of neurological work. While that early experience definitely inspired me to pursue neuroscience, after taking Gottlieb’s class, I started thinking that if I don't end up working for the CDC, I’d like to work with insurance around Alzheimer's disease. A huge amount of money is spent on Alzheimer's disease treatments, and none of it is making anything better. There are definitely policy improvements that could be made there.”

Kavi Bhalla‘s class on transportation policy, Budz said, also left an outsized impression. “I'm looking forward to having more courses with Kavi Bhalla. He is one of the most engaging professors I've ever had. People might think, ‘Oh, road sign design and how roads are constructed…how exciting.’  But Bhalla kept the class engaging, entertaining, and enlightening.”

His minor in health and society made Budz realize that biological and policy skills make a good pairing. “However, I had to weigh how much grad school would cost versus how much I would get out of it." Harris’ Career Services, Budz said, tipped the scales. “As a first-generation college student, it was especially valuable to see how much support Career Services provided—during the job search, the internship search, and even just networking. Plus, the high percentage of Harris graduates who find a job within a year was impressive.” 

Outside of academics and career prep, Budz said he is interested in joining some Harris Student Organizations—and perhaps even starting one. “I served as president of the Polish student organization for two years while I was an undergrad, and with such a strong international student representation at Harris, a cultural group for European students and policy might be worth exploring."