Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina
Tell us about your time at Environment America before starting your MPA. What was your role, and how did it inform your decision to pursue an MPA?
Environment North Carolina was very connected to why I pursued an MPA. It is an advocacy organization working on environmental justice in North Carolina, where there is a lot of pertinent activity — offshore drilling, pollution, etc. One day we would be working on solar energy and the next we would be working against coal ash. Obviously coal ash pollution is bad, obviously sustainable solar energy is good - so the values were all there. But what I learned is that in an advocacy organization, you are taking the fact that solar energy is good and running with it, and going hard, and putting pressure on decision makers, which is super important. But there was never an interrogation of how to, for example, best and most economically promote solar power. Working there made me realize that I want to work on the more data-driven analytical sides of Policy. This is why I pursued the MPA program, because I thought it would help me build skills to be a productive policy analyst.
What do you hope to do with a masters in public affairs?
In undergrad [at Brown], I never really had a lot of time to hone in my focus. I came in here and I thought I was going to do Computer Science and I didn’t decide on Public Policy until the last minute. I am now more interested in the poverty cycles, and policies that deal with different aspects of this cycle—mainly income mobility, the skills gap, and prison recidivism—and the MPA will equip me with the analytical and cognitive tools to get there, which I didn't have time to develop while in undergrad. I would love to be a director of a policy think-tank, because the field necessitates a lot of thinking and analyzing, which is very me.
--Amalia Perez '18