Hello Heller! Armando Vizcardo's Acceptance Letter

Armando Vizcardo, MPP'23, PhD Candidate

October 03, 2023

Armando Vizcardo HeadshotI was visiting my family for the weekend in the Berkshires around mid-spring semester of 2022, and like always, we were binge watching action movies, snacking on popcorn, and eating chocolate covered pretzels we had bought at Chocolate Springs earlier that day. It was a Saturday evening that I noticed I had received an update in the application status portal. As I anxiously looked, I saw the congratulations letter! I instantly yelled and startled my folks – “¡me aceptaron para el PhD program en Heller!  

My parents and siblings were so happy for me–as I was for myself. I teared up and instantly read through the acceptance letter, especially the stipend portion and began calculating if it was financially doable or not for me. We continued to snack and watch movies the rest of the night. I was able to breathe a little more, but it was still a hectic academic time since it was my last semester. In addition to the elective courses, finishing my master’s degree capstone project was now my priority. 

I was in my last semester as an MPP student at Heller when I received my PhD acceptance letter from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. My family knew I had applied to the doctoral program, as I had mentioned it in the past. So much joy was expressed through their words and actions but also – with their best intentions – some hesitation, asking me “Why do you need to study another 4-years!? Why not just work!?”

I had already made my decision of applying, and if accepted, attending after finishing the MPP degree. I smiled and mentioned this had been my long-term goal. I had applied to only one other policy school related to my research background which I was accepted to, but unfortunately their scholarship did not fully cover my financial needs. Luckily, I was able to make a few connections with the informational conversations I had with professors and students! 

There are many pros and cons of any higher education institution, and the mere hierarchy of such spaces sometimes gets me frustrated. In the end though, I am glad I chose Heller for my doctoral studies – not only because my research and policy interests line up well with their work but also the transnational community, especially the students and my peers, I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with.