Master of Public Policy (MPP)

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.
Maria Aybar, MPP'24

Maria Aybar, MPP'24

Heller Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholar

"Heller, with the WGS concentration, gives me the chance to do research that centers undocumented women. That, and the focus on social justice, drew me to Heller over other schools...I can ask to meet with any Heller professor, and the first thing they’re going to ask me is ‘how are you doing? How’s it going?’ That speaks volumes.”
Katherine Nace

Katherine Nace, MPP'24

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer [Coverdell Fellow]

Nace, who has chosen a concentration in Economic and Racial Equity, is eager to learn how she can help improve the criminal punishment system and mental health policy in the U.S.

“One thing that I was looking for was flexibility in the curriculum,” she says. “Heller's program requires courses that provide a great foundation, while giving me the agency to pick other topic areas I am interested in.This combination creates a really well-rounded degree.”

Jeff Arnold

Jeff Arnold, MPP’23

The MPP program appealed to Arnold because of his experience in the Army, where he saw many military policies that did not work as they should. Knowing what it was like to be in charge of implementing policies within the Army, he wondered what it would be like if he could make or create them.

"I can see my friends suffering from behavioral health issues,” he says. “I can see what I've done and how they have affected me, so […] this is how I can give back to the military. This is how I can effect policy change for the better using this degree."
Branden Miles, MPP'23

Branden Miles, MPP’23

Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

Inspired by the Atlantic Fellows and leading voices in the Black Lives Matter movement, Branden Miles decided to pursue a graduate education that would help him become more involved in closing the racial wealth gap.

“Heller is a unique space in that there is a richness of experience both in the faculty and staff but also amongst my cohort,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of varied experience that I can really learn from and that there’s a lot of different positions and different experiences that we have a lot of chances as students to investigate.”
Lisa Thorn

Lisa Thorn, MPP'23

Lisa Thorn decided to leave a successful career in the tech industry in order to apply her leadership and knowledge to resolving systemic issues, such as workplace discrimination. She’s fascinated by the intersection of labor policy, racial justice and the tech industry. 

"Tech has been unregulated for so long, and it’s long been inaccessible to women and people of color. And beyond the employment issues, there are also policy questions around the data the tech industry collects on people, how that information gets bought and sold, and the impacts that data can have on groups of people, on misinformation, even on efforts to destabilize democracies."

Rebecca Avilés, MPP'22

Rebecca Avilés, MPP'22

“The thing about climate change is that it’s a huge opportunity to address environmental racism and social injustice. Climate change impacts all those issues, such as poverty and health, because it all intersects.”

“I really want to help adopt and build policy solutions and whether that's at the local government or federal government level. There's just an urgency to implement and adopt policy solutions—and there's a lot already that we can implement, because we have a lot of the technology solutions.” 

Adam Jones '15, MPP'22

Adam Jones '15, MPP'22

As director of a group home for adults with mental illnesses in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Adam Jones ’15, MPP’22, saw firsthand how critical it was to have stable housing and community support.

“That’s what led me to Heller. My job primed me to think about what is important for someone living on the margins: stable housing, positive relationships. How do you build community for people?”

Sam Hyun, MPP/MBA'22

Sam Hyun, MPP/MBA'22

“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.”