Immigration policy, social policy
Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, Houston, Texas
Why did you decide to pursue your Master of Public Affairs at Brown University?
I am pursuing my MPA at Brown to learn the ins and outs of policymaking from a political and data perspective. I feel that developing these skills best fits my passion to be a voice for immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking a better life. My experiences with legal advocacy organizations, including Human Rights First and Project on Predatory Student Lending, showed me that beyond helping individuals, I need to work to reform the regulations that may harm immigrants. Realizing this made it clear to me that a career in policy was the next step in my path. The MPA at Brown was the ideal location to start my journey — the program offers all the core competencies that other public policy schools focus on and sets a timeline that is manageable with the transition I want to make between legal advocacy and policy-based work.
What career-building skills and knowledge have you gained since joining the program?
The skills I’ve gained in this program have included memo writing, statistical analysis, and data visualization, which have given me an appreciation for multifaceted critical thinking. Having the tools to interpret data in a variety of ways has made me more conscious of problem-solving in a policy-based context, where there are always different factors at play. These skills have made me confident that I can make strong recommendations to clients and other policymakers I may work with in the future.
I’ve also enjoyed my Geographic Informations System (GIS) class with Jim Lucht. GIS is a mapping framework that creates a variety of maps through stylistic and data inputs. It was my first time gaining a data-based skill where I could employ powerful visuals for policy problems at all levels of government. My final project in the class examined the relationship between food access and public transportation in Boston. I was able to create data points of grocers and supermarkets in Boston and overlay those data points with rapid transit lines. I also accessed census data to visualize where lack of public transportation and vulnerable populations intersect. The end product resulted in an important analysis of how public infrastructure plays into food access in Boston. This class ultimately gave me another tool that will help me highlight the significance of issues faced by underrepresented communities.