Ryan hopes to use his MSCAPP to rectify policies that disproportionately burden the less wealthy and marginalized.
Headshot of Matthew Ryan
Matthew Ryan

Although Matthew Ryan knew he wanted to pursue a service-oriented career, he admits his path wasn’t exactly clear-cut. “After I earned my undergraduate degree in Engineering Psychology at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I served in the U.S. Army for six and a half years.” It was during his service, Ryan said, that he was first inspired to explore graduate studies in public policy to shape his career goals. “I was impressed by the mentality one of my superiors demonstrated. His mindset was, ‘We're here to solve problems, and it doesn't matter how much I personally benefit from their resolution. If I can do something, then I will.’”

Witnessing that line of thinking being enacted, Ryan said, led him to pursue the Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) at Harris. “The problems public policy addresses may not be necessarily profitable to solve, but they're very necessary nonetheless.”

Ryan became interested in Harris after reading about its focus on data science and quantitative analysis for the benefit of municipalities, state organizations, and nonprofits, among others. “I identified Harris’ problem-solving mentality and scientific approach towards public policy as not only motivating, but also worthy of dedication.” He continued, “Policies that disproportionately burden the less wealthy and marginalized are harmful to the U.S. as a whole. I believe the MSCAPP program at Harris is a vital step towards accomplishing my goal of strengthening the homefront.”

In addition, Ryan said he’s confident his military experience will complement the focus of the MSCAPP program. “While in the Army, I learned to always think about how intentions and outcomes affect team members, and the way the MSCAPP program approaches the ethical aspects of technology and data in the service of public policy feels like a natural extension of that way of thinking.”

In advance of the Autumn quarter, Ryan has been listening to Professor James Robinson’s book Why Nations Fail, watching movies and British television shows with his spouse, and taking “exploring walks” with his young daughter: “She has a remarkable ability to spot wasp nests,” Ryan said.

Ryan is eager to dive into his first year at Harris. “I’m looking forward to getting a dose of the faculty during the Core and taking that foundation into electives in the first or second year, possibly in a completely different department.” He intends to feel out the first quarter or two before deciding what policy areas to focus on during his studies at UChicago, but noted there are several Harris Student Organizations he is already interested in, including Military Affiliated Students of Harris (MASH), Harris Community Action, and HarrisTech.

"I’m excited for my studies at Harris. Not only will they allow me to advance my career, but I can also show my daughter the type of work I want her to see from me: service that is not for profit, but for the common good.”