Khalil wants to use the skills she gains at Harris to start her own organization that facilitates public-private partnerships.
Headshot of Rana Khalil
Rana Khalil

Rana Khalil said her initial policy “aha” moment came while earning her BS in Public Health from The Ohio State University. “I was researching policy barriers to needle exchange centers and attended a Public Health career fair where I saw a Teach For America booth. I wondered what education had to do with public health, and they told me that the number one determinant of a child’s health was their parents’ educational attainment. That inspired me to join Teach for America, where I taught seventh grade ELA [English Language Arts]  in Memphis, TN for two years.”

However, Khalil soon realized that her impact in the classroom was limited in the face of systemic issues. “Being in the classroom and witnessing how unjust our education policy system is—and how students who don’t always have a voice are the ones who suffer the consequences—really motivates everything I do. My personal and professional goal is to always approach policy with a lens on equity and justice.”

Khalil also completed two fellowships to gain more exposure to the impact policy has. “I took a summer fellowship at Memphis Education Fund because I really wanted to understand what philanthropy has to do with education, and how different people operate within the policy space. It’s not just legislators that influence policy, it’s also foundations.”

In order to better understand the intersection of housing and education, Khalil completed a fellowship at Jersey City Housing Authority and it was there that she saw the power of public-private partnerships in solving large-scale policy problems. “After my combined undergraduate, Teach For America, and fellowship experiences, I saw the string tying everything together was the funding and financial aspect of policy and how it intersected across sectors, and I wanted to understand its mechanics—which is exactly why I chose Harris for my graduate work.”

Khalil said she was particularly drawn to the importance Harris places on quantitative skills and analysis. “Harris has a special, intentional focus that a lot of schools are missing about how to be meticulous about the policies that we pass and the analysis that we do.”

Now completing her first year in the Master of Public Policy program, Khalil says her Harris experience has been delivering. “Harris really does the transition well for people who have worked in the field for a couple years and are getting back to school. The programs in the summer, like Jumpstart and Math & Coding Camp, affirmed for me that Harris is invested in its students and their success.”

Khalil said her Microeconomics class with Professor Konstantin Sonin has been a particular high point. “That course was transformational. It proved to me that I could build new skill sets even though I didn’t have any background in them.”

Khalil also said she has been inspired by her participation in Harris Student Organizations. “I’m currently pursuing the Certificate in Finance and Policy, and I know I wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic about the certificate without the events I attended with the Harris Finance Group.”

Because she can never stay too far away from the classroom, Khalil is also a Writing Intern for the Undergraduate Humanities Core, and most recently was elected Co-President of Harris Student Government (HSG).

This summer, Khalil is excited for her internship as a Management and Budgeting Consulting Intern with Public Financial Management. “I’m really looking forward to applying what I’ve learned at Harris… I’m excited to see what quantitative analysis looks like on the ground when working with real policy data with specific organizations and goals in mind. It’s a new field for me, and I would not have been able to make that transition as easily without Harris.”