Meet Our Program Alumni

The Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program alumni are excited to share their own experiences and help you with any questions regarding the program or the UChicago experience. To connect with a program alum complete the Connect with Program Alum form.

Maria Ballesteros

María is a recent graduate of Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México with a bachelors in Political Science. Her interest in understanding how policy impacts daily life influenced her choice to attend the Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program. María has returned to UChicago Harris Public Policy as a full-time Research Assistant.

“The biggest impact was getting to work with so many exceptional people from all around the world. The capstone project allowed us to work closely with both professors and peers in several fields, all of whom have different outlooks on a specific problem. Living in the dorms and exploring the city was a great balance of fun and social engagement to our studies. The group’s diverse backgrounds made the program an enriching and mind-opening experience.”

Read more in María’s blog post.

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Yangzhou Ou

Yangzhou is an inspiring data journalist. Before entering her fourth year at Fudan University’s School of Journalism, Yangzhou was actively seeking data science and quantitative skills. She chose this program to become equipped with the analytical and programming skills to conduct in-depth reporting. Yangzhou will return to Harris Public Policy this fall as a graduate student in our MS in Computational Analysis and Public Policy.

 “Within three-weeks of intensive learning with econometrics and R, we could apply these tools in real-world data sets and give suggestions on policy issues. I was amazed to find that I could visualize the data and conduct analysis with the knowledge I learnt just few weeks ago.”

Read more in Yangzhou’s blog post.

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Lana Kugli

Lana is a recent graduate of New York University Shanghai with a bachelors in Economics. Her research interest and experience is in the intersection of economics, politics, and gender. In search of a fulfilling graduate school program, Lana chose the program to help narrow to her search and to deepen her technical understanding of data. 

"I entered the program with so many graduate school ideas. I wanted to learn programming, and to understand my graduate school interests. Week by week, the program shaped my interests and goals. I ended the program with a clear picture of what I want. I want to go to graduate school for a Masters in Public Policy with data analytics.” 

Read more in Lana’s blog post.

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Jessica Lyu

Jessica is a senior undergraduate student at the University of International Business & Economics in China. As an economics major Jessica has a solid knowledge of the theoretical side. She chose this program to learn more about policy and the application side, which is part of the reason why she enjoyed the policy series the most.

“What impressed me the most was the ability to ask all of our questions. we were able to ask questions at any time in class, and there were office hours every day after class for us to ask more questions. This ability and opportunity to connect with faculty and engage the course content was different from my undergraduate experience.” 

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Frankie Cho

Frankie is a researcher and graduate student at the University of Hong Kong. Frankie has a bachelor degree in Geography and Politics & Public Administration, and is completing a master degree in Environmental Economics. He chose this program because UChicago has a really strong reputation for combining rigorous econometric methods with a lot of the policy impacts and understanding substantive policy issues. 

“One of the things I enjoyed about the research project was being able immediately to implement concepts we had learned in the classroom. I loved that one day we were learning about the econometric techniques, and the next, we were using them in a real-world data stat.”

Read more in Frankie’s blog post.

Sixian Zeng

Sixian is a current undergraduate student at Peking University, studying sociology. Sixian found UChicago Harris School of Public Policy to be a place for diverse people and backgrounds who share the commonality of wanting to increase social good. Sixian’s insight for prospective students is if you are interested in public policy and want to do social good, then this program is for you.  

“The classes are worth our efforts, challenging but rewarding. I would definitely recommend this program to whoever wants to experience the UChicago way of being rigorous and fun and learn new things everyday.”

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Maria Camila Diaz Granados Baena

After finishing a degree in psychology, María Camila is completing another bachelors degree in business administration from the Universidad De Los Andes. Her background combines the internal or innate human mind and the external or socialized structures in society, and how these two factors relate in effective policy. María Camila chose UChicago because of the diverse and interdisciplinary approach to education and research necessary for data-based policy.  

 "I got to know the University of Chicago and get a glimpse of what studying there would be like. I loved getting to know more about the different graduate programs the university offers. In addition, I really enjoyed getting to know different people from all over the world and from different backgrounds including students, teachers, and other members of the UChicago community."