Huang intends to apply his experiences at Harris and in Chicago to public affairs work in China.
Headshot of Yuan Huang
Yuan Huang

Growing up in Guangxi, a poor, rural province in China, Yuan Huang learned firsthand how data, technology, and governance interact with and influence policy, as well as the impact public policy has on people’s lives. “The nine-year compulsory education system, a policy introduced by the government, has significantly improved the living standards of the Chinese people in a way that is visible to the naked eye. This policy reduced illiteracy rates, so that every citizen, rich or poor, can enjoy equal access to education without discrimination. I am one of the beneficiaries of these policies.”

Now at Harris studying to become a policymaker, Huang is excited to do work that has a “clearer and warmer connection with society.”

During his time as a student of engineering management at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Huang initially sought to enter a career in finance:  “It was a decent job in the eyes of others,” he said. However, two internships in this field revealed to him that his passions lie elsewhere, so he turned to research on anti-poverty policies. His desire to work in public affairs solidified after working on a paper that connected big data and technology to poverty alleviation programs in China. Working on that paper confirmed for him the deep connection between policy and human welfare.

“Based on the stakeholder theory, social network analysis method, and data processing software R, the article identified the risks and benefits of poverty alleviation actors through a quantitative lens. I realized data-based public policy analysis is one of the best ways for us to measure the output of policies. It can enable us to make more accurate, controllable, and beneficial policies based on rationality and science.”

Huang said he is looking forward to growing his research skills at Harris. “Harris is famous for its rigorous quantitative analysis courses. It allows you to discover the nature and root causes of problems. Plus, fact-based data analysis skills transfer across fields.”

Beyond the curriculum, Huang was drawn to Harris by the people he would be studying alongside. “During the application process, I read the Harris Career Outcomes Report and several student profiles. The demographics and professional backgrounds of the students are very diverse. They bring perspectives from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors in various countries. There should be many unexpected collisions and inspirations in the process of learning with them, and I am looking forward to it.” He is also eager to begin studying in the city of Chicago. “Chicago is a diverse city. I hope my interactions with the Chicago community while at Harris give me a deeper understanding of Chinese society.”

Eventually, Huang intends to apply his experiences at Harris and in Chicago to public affairs work in China. “China has excellent internet software and hardware facilities. This provides a natural channel for the development of public welfare undertakings. However, the current resource allocation and mutual medical assistance structures remain inefficient.” Huang sees an opportunity to leverage technology to improve policy implementation and life outcomes in China.

He also aspires to have a varied career: “I hope that my work will not be limited to a certain industry or a certain company. I believe that the core skills of data analysis that I learn at Harris will enable me to realize more possibilities in the field of public affairs.”