Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
MPA
Justin Ferenzi Master of Public Affairs Brown University

"Brown offers a world of opportunities for you to develop yourself and your future career: a variety of guest speakers from all over the globe, student organizations for any and all interests, fantastic resources for career advice and networking, and a world-class faculty passionate about research across many fields."

Student Spotlight: Justin Ferenzi, ’19, MPA ’20

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Policy interests: Healthcare, economic development
Consultancy: Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, Canton, Massachusetts

You majored in cognitive neuroscience at Brown. Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree?

During my first few years at Brown, I was on a pre-med track and wanted to go into neurology or psychiatry. I took two public health courses during my sophomore year and was exposed to the U.S. healthcare system in all its complexities. It was fascinating. I started to realize that if I really wanted to make the impact I had hoped to make as a doctor, I would have to “zoom out.” I started exploring the world of public health and landed on healthcare policy as the field I was most passionate to pursue. However, it was a bit too late for me to change majors, and I hadn’t gotten a lot of policy experience under my belt. The MPA seemed like the best way for me to jumpstart my career in public affairs and get the skills and experience necessary to enter that space. 

What advice would you give to students considering the fifth-year MPA?

The MPA staff do a wonderful job of making the application and transition process pretty seamless for Brown undergraduates. It is important not to let the ease and comfort of staying at Brown factor too heavily in your decision. This is a rigorous program, and you’ve got to be sure that you want to pursue it before you commit. You’ll probably be a little disoriented coming right back to classes a week after you graduate. But you’ll quickly get settled back in and find a welcoming and supportive community for yourself in the MPA cohort. It’s a great way to hone and tighten all the skills you learned in undergrad, or, if you’re like me, explore a whole new side of Brown you never knew was there before. 

What advice would you give to incoming students who don’t know much about Brown?

Brown is a place for self-starters who are ready to proactively shape their own experience. Outside what the MPA provides, Brown offers a world of opportunities for you to develop yourself and your future career: a variety of guest speakers from all over the globe, student organizations for any and all interests, fantastic resources for career advice and networking, and a world-class faculty passionate about research across many fields. It can be as overwhelming as it is exciting! It’s going to be about finding a balance between focusing on your passions and expanding your horizons; I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone with the courses I took, events I attended, and people I met. 

Where will you be working for your consultancy?

I’ll be at the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech. They do great work in providing early intervention services for differently-hearing children. Right now, they’re providing telemedicine services where parents can Facetime with their counselors and get the Clarke School’s services from the security of their own homes. These services are funded by grants, but Clarke wants to start getting them covered by Medicaid and other insurers for a more secure source of payment. I’m excited to utilize my experience from studying healthcare policy and working at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Further, I’m looking forward to developing my knowledge and getting on-the-ground experience working with experts in these fields. 

You’ve already secured a job with Deloitte after you graduate. What will you be doing and why did you decide to pursue consulting? 

I had never considered consulting before this year. This past summer, recruiters from Deloitte came to speak to the MPA class, and I found myself really excited by the work they do. Their government and public services practice in D.C. has contracts with basically any federal agency you can think to name. I’m most interested in their projects with agencies like Health and Human Services and other healthcare entities, but I’m excited by the opportunity to explore a wide variety of other government areas. I think it will be a good way to hone my career path, meet cool people doing cool work, and rapidly build on the skills I’ve gained in the MPA program.

December 2019