Patel is coupling her love of textiles and design with her passion for justice to create a new landscape within the design industry.
Headshot of Shivani Patel
Shivani Patel

“I admit, I’m not one to set small goals,” said Shivani Patel, MPP Class of 2025. “Ultimately, I want to redefine the fashion, textile, and design industries.”

Patel continued, “There are so many different sectors playing a role in textile production, and when I think of the impact that, say, corporate responsibility can make—such as the Bangladesh Accord—I believe we can continue taking steps in the right direction. The big picture for me is international policy impact, with a focus on ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] goals—potentially at the UN level. I want to be at the table to help lead those changes.” 

With policy interests that center near the intersection of equitable textile production, fashion, and environmental sustainability, it’s perhaps little surprise that Patel earned her bachelor of science in fashion and textile management with a concentration in fashion development and product management from North Carolina State University in 2017. 

After graduating, Patel worked at her father’s diner, Jeter’s Deli. “I draw my work ethic and motivation to improve the world from my actual family and my restaurant family.”

Patel said she was motivated to work—and make an impact—in her local community after college, which is why she began working in the Tech Department at the Forsyth County Public Library. There, she said, she saw the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly. “Since everything was online, many elders were left behind. I successfully developed and delivered courses aimed at instructing seniors and community members in the fundamentals of computers. The curriculum covered topics ranging from basic mouse usage to creating emails and beyond."

Patel subsequently enrolled in two certificate programs: a leadership essentials for women certification at HandsOn NWNC and a nonprofit essentials governance certification program offered by Wake Forest University.

Patel said her interest in UChicago and the Harris Master of Public Policy program was first piqued while taking her nonprofit essentials governance certification program at Wake Forest said Patel. “Professor Barbara Lentz, who led the certification program, recommended the Harris School of Public Policy as a strong next step for me.”

Her research, Patel said, convinced her that the MPP would provide the foundational and multidisciplinary knowledge needed to enact policy change within the textile industry to create more equitable and sustainable practices. “I believe policy can be used to incentivize companies to adopt sustainable manufacturing practices and ensure workers are treated fairly and given access to safe working conditions.”

Patel also was drawn to the program's interdisciplinary approach to learning and its focus on evidence-based policymaking. “I believe Harris’ emphasis on quantitative analysis and data-driven decision-making will allow me to build upon my existing technology skillset and equip me with essential frameworks to create lasting change.” 

As for her plans after graduation, Patel cited Remake Our World, a global advocacy organization for fair play and climate justice in the clothing world, as an organization whose work is aligned with her policy interests. “However, right now I’m looking forward to conquering the core MPP courses and getting to know my classmates better!”