How attending a grad fair helped him see a future for his statistics background at Harris Pubic Policy.
Drazzel Feliu
Drazzel Feliu


New York, New York


B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Fordham University


Ogilvy & Mather

"I thought about my personal sense of responsibility to others, which is what led me to public policy."

How has your experience in statistical applications led you to a degree in public policy?

Before I started at Fordham in the Fall of ’09, I had moved up in my first job. In that company, we were managing process migration — I was in charge of what we were doing and tracking our benchmarks and I really enjoyed that about the job. When I was at Fordham, I wanted to focus on statistics and making decisions off of what statistics tells us is the best path. And so that’s how I ended up doing economics at Fordham. At my current job, it’s been more about: “I’m here, I got my degree, what now?” I thought about my personal sense of responsibility to others, which is what led me to public policy. I’ve had the opportunity to go to college and get my degree— how can I take that in a way that benefits someone other than myself? There needed to be a way to give back to others, and public policy was a way to do that.

Did you have a moment during your graduate program search where you realized, “this is the place for me?

There were several different “aha!” moments for me. I met with Ranjan [Daniels] at a grad fair, and after that, I really went on the website and looked at incoming Harris students. The first thing I clicked on was this econometrics class. I looked through the syllabus— I knew about a third of the course from my undergraduate degree, and realized that was the direction I wanted to go in. Another part was attending the Admitted Students Day, sitting on a faculty panel, seeing the Policy Labs and realizing that it’s not going to be studying in a vacuum. I was pretty solid on coming before I got to Admitted Students Day, but after leaving, I had no doubt whatsoever.

You’re looking to refine your analytical and forecasting skills — what about Harris curriculum will be most beneficial to these goals?

I started to look at a bunch of different schools, but the decision for me was always: “Will I get the mechanical training necessary to do that kind of work on my own? If I need to set the parameters of an analysis, can I do that with what I’ve learned at this school?” That was always my question when applying: “how mathematically rigorous is this school?” That was a key factor in me taking a long look at Harris as opposed to a couple of different places.

Do you have any advice for prospective students who are in the process of applying to graduate programs?

I think there are three big things. First, take very important note of deadlines so that you know what things need to be where, and when they need to be in. A big part was sorting out what needed to be done immediately, what could wait, and what I had time to do. The whole process is stressful, and if you don’t manage that aspect, it’s going to make the whole process more challenging. Another thing is to write often. I wrote tons of different essays throughout the course of my application time. My first one was absolutely terrible—but by the end, as I kept on writing and writing, I came up with stuff I was proud to submit because I felt like it was something that represented who I was. And I guess the biggest thing is to keep an open mind. The nature of the University of Chicago and Harris itself was prestigious— I thought the chances of me getting in were slim because it was so selective. I’m glad a maintained an open mind about what I could bring to the application.