Namuka Ishii is interested in improving education finance policy to both help individuals gain economic mobility and make public services more efficient.
Headshot of Namuka Ishii
Namuka Ishii

“My volunteer work in 2019–20 in the Philippines and Japan informed my view on the negative economic situations so many people are facing,” said Namuka Ishii, MPP Class of 2024. “I saw the impacts on individuals lacking intergenerational mobility and the effects of COVID on my friends’ ability to pay university fees, and I realized I wanted to work to improve situations like those through policy.”

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Ishii said he was always interested in supporting individuals to better their situations and improve social issues. “Initially, I thought I would go into teaching. Later, however, I realized that I could combine my math and statistics skills with my desire to change systems and improve the management of public services through policy.”

Ishii spent the first year and a half of his undergraduate experience at Musashino University in Tokyo, then another year and a half at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, graduating in three years with a BS in mathematics and a minor in education. “Before coming to Harris, I had never taken any public policy, economics, or political science classes. However, as a math major, I knew that microeconomic and macroeconomic balance and behavioral economics are important for securing education funding in public finance. As a result, I wanted to complement the quantitative and educational skills I gained in undergrad with data analysis skills to analyze public policy issues.”

While Ishii knew he wanted to continue with school, he initially wasn’t sure which program would be the right fit. “Many policy schools can offer similar educations, but the people at Harris made the difference for me. I enjoy interacting with so many international students with interesting backgrounds—from government to industry and more. I appreciated that with the diversity of interests, a common thread among Harris students is that we are all passionate about changing society for the better.”

As for the academics at Harris, Ishii said they have delivered. “Given my policy interests, it is probably not surprising that one of my favorite courses so far has been Intergenerational Mobility with Professor Lukina. Plus, I plan to pursue specializations in finance and social inequality as well.”

Ishii also pursued extracurricular opportunities during his time at Harris. “I am the president of the Public Management and Policy Student Organization, and I serve as a Harris Ambassador. Through these opportunities, I have met people from all sectors and backgrounds, and I have enjoyed making connections that I will continue to foster in the future.”

For prospective students considering entering the policy field, Ishii offered this advice: “Don’t be afraid to pursue policy if you do not have a background in it. Before coming to Harris, I couldn’t have imagined all the passionate people here, many of whom also do not have an intense quantitative background. If you have a passion, you can make a change.”