Yap plans to combine the analytical skills she gains at Harris with her international relations and communications skills to advance advocacy where environmental initiatives and ecosystems are central.
Headshot of Rebecca Yap
Rebecca Yap

Raised in Singapore, Rebecca Yap said she long had an interest in environmental policy but struggled with how to approach it. “I was unsure of the best path to best accomplish the necessary changes I saw on the horizon,” she said.

While completing her undergraduate degree in international relations at the University of Melbourne, Australia, Yap gained what she described as some basics of policy analysis: econometrics and statistics. “These subjects helped me formulate the capability to view environmental issues through the lens of policy analysis, which informed my understanding of how environmental issues are governed.”

It was, however, an internship during her undergraduate degree, Yap said, that solidified her passion for environmental issues. “I had a very rewarding internship with the Environmental Protection Authority and the Australian Conservation Foundation in Melbourne, and I knew I wanted to continue to work in that field. To have the most impact, I realized a master’s in policy was my next step.” Yap said that, while researching programs, the University of Chicago Master of Public Policy best fit what she was seeking.

“Harris attracted me because it offers both the opportunity to acquire hard skills and work with the local community, which I believe is how policy should be. In my experience, policy is often top-to-bottom, while advocacy comes from the ground up. I was drawn to the fact that Harris emphasizes policy as community-driven—and that policy should be used for the good of the people it serves. For example, if I were tasked with regulating something, I would want to consult with the people impacted by the regulations, because they would have the working knowledge and experience I lacked.”

While at Harris, Yap hopes to further refine and enhance the communications skills she has gained through her professional career, which includes working in the communications departments of large corporations such as APCO Worldwide and Ying Communications. “Communications and relations are a huge part of policy implementation, and I want to be able to use what I know for the environment in the most effective manner possible. The policy analysis skills I gain at Harris will enhance my toolbox of communications skills and international relations knowledge.”

Yap said her experience with Harris thus far has been excellent and has lived up to her expectations. “I’m the type of person to use checklists, so I appreciate that I receive lists and reminders for everything. I feel good about how Harris pushes me to make progress on my own while knowing I am also being supported by the whole school.”
One topic Yap hopes to explore more fully while at Harris is the difference between equality and equity when it comes to environmental policy. “Many campaigns are focused on equality, but as I see it, the real issue is equity, because that’s what ensures that everyone  has access to the same resources by, essentially, lowering the functional barriers to them—implicit or otherwise.”
Engaging with the Harris community is also top of mind for Yap. “Conversations with students and faculty members who have different backgrounds, experiences, and policy and academic interest will expand my perspectives and enrich my thinking on policy issues. I hope to hone well-rounded thinking and analytical skills to deliver environmental impact for the betterment of communities.”