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.
Sam Hyun

Sam Hyun, MPP'21

“Everyone told me that working for [Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo] was like getting a PhD in politics. I learned so much about leadership, coalition-building, movements. I was in the room, having conversations with the man who made the decisions. But after five years, I realized I was lacking in terms of hard technical skills. I’ve loved my experience here [at Heller]. Not everyone is from the government. People come from AmeriCorps, think tanks, and there’s just a vast diaspora of intellect. I’m really inspired by my cohort members.”

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.”

John Valinch, MPP/MBA'19

While working at UNITE HERE, a hospitality labor union, Valinch realized that he wanted to influence policies to benefit workers more broadly, particularly in job fields or geographic areas without the capacity to organize, as well as build up his management skills. The Heller School, with its social justice focus and dual MBA and MPP degrees, was a natural fit.  

“I’ve been blessed to not only find influence and insight from my own personal experiences, but also learn to understand and work on the institutional and interconnected roots of those problems, finding strength, love, and resilience in community as we build new futures together,” Valinch says.

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.”


Andy Tisdel, MBA/MPP'20

Dual degree student and self-professed policy wonk Andy Tisdel shares his favorite aspects of this specialized dual program and why the Heller community is so unique.


Norman Abbott, MBA/MPP'20

Student Norman Abbott explains how his desire to make change at scale inspired him to apply to Heller.