Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Ayesha Harisinghani MPH/MPA Brown University MPA Program

I decided to pursue a MPH/MPA degree in order to develop the tools to advocate for equitable mental health resources.

Student Spotlight: Ayesha Harisinghani MPH/MPA ’21

Policy interests: Public health, healthcare access
Hometown: Lexington, Massachusetts

How did you decide to pursue a combined MPH/MPA degree?

After finishing my undergraduate education, I knew I had a passion for working with children and was considering going into education. I participated in the AmeriCorps program, CityYear Los Angeles, where I worked with sixth-grade students providing academic and social support in the classroom. My CityYear experience impressed upon me the importance of having strong emotional and behavior supports available for young individuals, and how policies should promote the accessibility and availability of such resources. I decided to pursue a MPH/MPA degree in order to develop the tools to advocate for equitable mental health resources.

What sorts of skills did you take away from the MPA summer session?

The program evaluation course provided a bridge between public affairs and public health. Through lectures, problem sets, and labs, I learned how to quantitatively analyze given policies and interventions. I am already able to see some of the applications in my public health courses when determining whether prevention or treatment methods are effective, and can see it being utilized within future career paths. And, the intensity of the summer session pushed me to become more organized to balance personal and school commitments.

You participated in the Global Policy Experience in Mexico City. What sorts of policy lessons did you draw from your studies there?

In previous classes, I often learned about foreign policy from the viewpoint of the U.S. government. Being in an environment where I was able to hear different perspectives from the Mexican government and the community allowed me to understand different viewpoints within another framework. One speaker who was a highlight for me was from HolaCode, a nonprofit organization that created technology educational programs for deportees, refugees, and returnees in Mexico. It showcased to me how large issues can be addressed through concrete programs that ultimately create lifelong effects. I hope to be able to be a part of policies that design and implement such programs to promote and improve mental health.

What has been a highlight for you at Brown?

I had taken a few undergraduate public health courses but was never able to really delve deeply into public health and public affairs. Brown has allowed me to connect with these passions and find ways I can implement them in my future career. For example, I am currently taking a global health ethics course with professor Caroline Kuo, where I am learning from peers and faculty about how to operate in a research space. In addition to teaching me more about global health, the course has forced me to ask difficult questions about how to make sure research is as ethical as possible. Through this course and others like it, I have been excited to see how people have transformed their passion for public health into meaningful careers, and I hope to be able to do the same.