As a literature and linguistics major, I did not have a background in statistics or data programming. I had always identified myself as a humanities/art student and thought that I might not be good at these subjects — I found statistics and coding a bit intimidating. However, the two statistics courses in the MPA program were game changers.
Interests: Child rights, education, poverty reduction, private sector engagement in public affairs
Hometown: Shenzhen, China
Consultancy: The Clinton Foundation, New York, New York
In the summer of my junior year, I spent two weeks at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, where I was given wide, on-site exposure to the practical effect of policies on various stakeholders. The complexity and controversy of policy-making were made vivid to me and I decided I would like to learn more about policy. Ultimately, I decided to work at UNICEF Laos after I graduated in 2019 instead of enrolling in graduate school immediately. This transformative experience led me to explore more about child rights and how partnerships work in this specific environment. I helped produce UNICEF communication materials and publications, including interactive content and human interest stories, which gave me wide exposure to the complex context of promoting child rights in developing countries. I gained hands-on experience in supporting the office’s external communication strategy with a strong focus on media relations and partnerships. For example, we worked with partners and line ministries to organize the first-ever private-sector consultation on child rights and business in Lao PDR. This and other uplifting moments reaffirmed my determination to pursue a career in development. Brown’s one-year program fit with my plan to devote my time to intensive academic study. I also chose Brown because the MPA program provides individualized support and meets students wherever they are in their career path.
As a literature and linguistics major, I did not have a background in statistics or data programming. I had always identified myself as a humanities/art student and thought that I might not be good at these subjects — I found statistics and coding a bit intimidating. However, the two statistics courses in the MPA program (Statistics for Public Policy and Statistics for Program Evaluation) were game changers. I enjoyed those classes very much, thanks to the thoughtful and accessible professors and course assistants. I used my knowledge in social and economic statistics to understand public policy research and conduct policy-related analysis. With cases from various policy areas, we’ve performed statistical analysis and offered relevant advice to policymakers. I chose Data Science and Programming as one of my electives and I have used skills from that class to clean, organize, and visualize data during my consultancy, which will also be useful tools in my future policy work.
One of the highlights has been the conversation with fellow students and faculty. Brown’s faculty members come from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise, and are very open-minded and approachable. The pandemic year has been tough for all of us, but luckily I’ve met some of the most compassionate and supportive peers in this program. I appreciate how we can share our stories from different corners in the world and support each other through this difficult time.
I worked for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), using my knowledge and skills to support the implementation of CGI's activities by conducting stakeholder analysis and research. My primary task was conducting research on children’s health in the Caribbean for a roundtable event, including key issues, stakeholders, and current efforts in each state. I’ve also developed actionable policy recommendations to develop CGI’s mental health program in the Bahamas. I was able to interview three practitioners in the Bahamas who provided lots of valuable information and insights on disaster response and resilience. I learned a lot about the Bahamian context and fieldwork from my research and interviews. And surprisingly, I could relate this work to my experiences in Laos.
I feel honored to become one of the statistics and economics course assistants for the next cohort this summer. I remember the conscientious support the course assistants provided for us when our cohort was busy getting started with the challenging summer sequence. I plan to become a policy analyst. Eventually, I would like to work for an organization that advocates advancement for and offers solutions to development issues in the least developed regions, hopefully building resilience in the midst of unstable economic and political conditions.