MPP Student Profiles

Heller MPP students are researchers, advocates, policy wonks and organizers. We believe this program attracts people who are uniquely dedicated to social change, collaborative, hardworking, and relentlessly driven to make the world a better place. Our students hail from many different backgrounds and professional experiences, but they all come to Heller to take their careers—and their causes—to the next level.
Bishar Jenkins

Bishar Jenkins, MPP'20

Hailing from Trenton, New Jersey, Bishar Jenkins, MPP’20, aims to elevate the voices of multiple communities he belongs to, through a public policy career. “The issues I intend to research are affecting thousands nationwide and the stakes are high. Unfortunately, the issues that affect black LGBTQ folks have been rendered invisible in the mainstream public discourse. I'm here at Heller to gain the skillsets that I need to conduct applicable research. Research that does not simply rehash problems, but creates meaningful and impactful solutions.”

Leila Quinn, MPP/MBA'19

"Growing up, my family was priced out of our neighborhood," says Leila Quinn. "I chose Heller's dual degree program specifically because I knew that in order for me to advance social justice in housing policy, I needed to understand business, economics, history, and so much more. The skills from both degrees will make me a better advocate and policymaker."

Naomi You, MPP'19

Naomi You was selected for the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management's (APPAM) 2018 Equity and Inclusion Fellowship. "I hope to learn more about what equity and inclusion means for each of us and become better informed as I research and hopefully implement future policies, including the people that we collectively represent."

Billierae Engelman, MPP'19

"I chose to attend Heller to be part of a community of policymakers intent on incorporating social justice into every aspect of their work. Although my chosen field of study is not directly represented in the concentration offerings (climate change and environmental policy), I feel that the overall education I am receiving at Heller allows me to hone in on the inequities found in the existing policies preparing us to mitigate and adapt to a world facing climate change. This broader knowledge is giving me the tools to make the necessary changes so that our society helps everyone adapt and prepare."

Kaytie Dowcett ’99, MPP’15

Spearheading Waltham's Dual-Immersion Pre-K Program

"I did a lot of reading about implicit bias in education in graduate school, and it was like a hammer over my head. As a kid growing up in Waltham I definitely had a meritocratic mentality that if you work hard you’ll succeed. I came from a working class family and I worked hard and I was successful in school, and I wanted to pat myself on the back for that. But I could see that everything I was reading about had played out in my own K-12 education for many of my Puerto Rican classmates. I want to be part of a solution, not perpetuate that pattern.”

Head shot of Erin Robinson, MPP’16

Erin Robinson, MPP’16

Impacting Policy as a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow in Sen. Booker's Office

"Right now I’m working on Senator Booker’s education and criminal justice portfolios. So day to day I write a lot of memos—I basically do what I always wanted to do, which is bring research to policymakers. I read reports from think tanks and non-profits, and I write about what’s happening in the field to inform the positions we take on things.

I appreciate the breadth of social policy topics I was exposed to at Heller—the other day a woman from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sent me some new research they’ve been doing on the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, and these are things we talked about in class. I feel versed in what’s going on, I can speak the language and I know what family policy is concerned with today. I don’t feel behind."

Jared Hite, MPP/MBA'17

What Makes Heller Different?

"The Heller MPP program provided me with unique exposure to diverse perspectives and new ways to think about social policy. MPP students might share a classroom with MBA students, Sustainable International Development students, or Conflict and Coexistence students - and all of those students expand and strengthen class discussions. Outside of the classroom, the Heller community helps students meet and learn from both national and international experts in advocacy, government, community organizing, research, and other areas."

Nathalie Navarrete, MPP'16

Getting a Seat at the Table

"I am so grateful for the support I received while I was a Heller MPP student. The first few months of work at my new job at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) were incredibly challenging, but my ability to eloquently voice my concerns and solutions through policy suggestions and data have allowed me to gain the trust and respect of my school principal, administrators and colleagues. I was also selected to join the DCPS Chancellor's Teachers' Cabinet. I am the only first-year teacher (and one of the few women of color) who gets to sit at a table where decisions for the District are being made. This summer, I will be working at the Center for American Progress as a Leadership for Educational Equity Fellow. All of these opportunities would have not been possible if it wasn't for the education I received at Heller."