Collier aims to combine her MPP skills with her life experience to support policies that empower the communities they serve.
Headshot of Tylor Collier
Tylor Collier

“My parents were very service-oriented,” said Tylor Collier, “and they encouraged my sister and me to give back to the community at an early age. Our family roots in Michigan go back generations, and my parents told us stories about living in Detroit and the Metropolitan Area when the city was segregated and how policies had changed the city, for better and worse, over the years.”

Collier herself grew up outside of Detroit and would spend weekends during her high school years volunteering at food banks and homeless shelters in Detroit. “I saw disparities between the community in which I lived and the lives of the people I was working with.”

Her high school also had a program where students would spend May of their senior year doing an internship. Collier decided to go to Washington, D.C. to work with Celeste Davis, a professor of health studies at American University. “My mom had taught English and Language Arts, and Celeste was actually one of my mom’s former students—I consider her a mentor.” While in D.C., Collier worked with Davis on health policy. “I went to think tank events and Congressional hearings, and I realized the disparities I had been seeing during my weekends of volunteering were connected to policies being created in these spaces.

“It was a stepping stone for me to understand what policy is, how to write good policy, what research goes into policy, and who is determined to be deserving or undeserving of social services,” Collier said. “That internship is really what opened the door for me.”

She went on to earn bachelor's degrees in both Social Relations & Policy and Arts & Humanities from Michigan State University. While an undergraduate, Collier studied abroad in South Africa, India, and the Netherlands. During her time in Delhi, she spent two weeks visiting Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), an organization focused on citizen-centric development, to study participatory research methods. “When I saw that PRIA combined data with what the community said they needed, that was formative for my understanding of the importance of ensuring stakeholders have a say in creating policies that speak directly to their community’s needs.”  

These experiences instilled in Collier a drive to help reshape policies that have excluded groups from sharing in a community’s prosperity. When researching graduate programs, she said she was looking for a program and school that would give her the quantitative skills and coursework she needs to achieve her goals. The Master of Public Policy program at Harris fits what she wants.

“Looking at student and alumni profiles, everyone is so interesting and dedicated to their work. I knew that Harris would not only prepare me for the workforce, but also help me dive deeper into the technicalities of the policy area I am interested in. Plus, UChicago’s academic reputation is unquestionable.”

Collier said she looks forward to the Core and taking classes on gender and racial inequality—among other aspects of her time in the MPP. “Honestly, I’m excited to use my time at Harris to explore my next steps. I could see myself at a consulting firm or policy group that helps policymakers understand the research and numbers behind a policy and why people should want to enact it in their community. I definitely want to invest in a community to improve the lives of its citizens. I want to be a force for good.”