We took a brief intermission and now we are back with another blog in my mini blog series of Meet My Cohort. Did you miss it? I hope so! This week I had the great pleasure to sit down with Robert Hitt, who is 31 years old and from Milton, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelors of science in Biology. He is now a 2nd year Master of Public Policy Student concentrating in Economic and Racial Equity.
What did you do before coming to Heller?
I came back to the United States a year prior to coming to Heller, but before that I was teaching English in Rabat, Morocco for four years. When I came back, I started working at Mass General Hospital as a Clinical Laboratory Assistant, which is where I worked before leaving to go to Morocco. I continued working this position during my 1st year at Heller but only part-time, 3 days a week. I wouldn’t recommend this during your first year, at least.
Why did you choose Heller?
When I was in Morocco, the pandemic had just hit, and we were in lock down. We couldn’t really leave our apartment besides going to the grocery store, and the school I was working at was shut down. This was also in the midst of the 2020 Presidential Election, and I began thinking hard about what I wanted to do with my career. I enjoyed teaching, but knew I did not want to continue with that, and I knew I wanted to come back to the United States, but at the time we were waiting for my wife’s visa to get approved. Thinking about what I wanted to do, I knew I was interested in politics and law, which left me debating between policy or law school. I spoke with a lot of my family members that were lawyers, who all told me not to go to law school. I still might, who knows, but someone had mentioned public policy, and I thought this idea was neat. If I did public policy, I wouldn’t have to try to use the law in a way that I thought was just, but to shape laws or influence how they’re made. This was appealing to me, so I applied to a couple different programs, but I appreciated Heller’s social justice bent. In addition to this, I saw that Bob Kuttner was a professor here, and I been reading his work. I reached out to him and observed one of his classes “Capitalism and Social Policy” and I enjoyed it. Bob Kuttner was really kind to me and he offered me a internship at the Prospect when I joined his class in Spring 2022. Knowing he was there, I realized the school really aligned with my values.
What is or was your favorite class at Heller?
Because I am interested in workers rights and labor power, I will say my favorite classes are Economic Theory and Economic Labor, both taught by Professor Lisa Lynch. I find the classes to be really engaging. We don’t only talk about how the labor market affects worker power but also how workers can exert their power in the workplace and gain better wages/benefits for themselves. This is what I really want to do after Heller: improve the wellbeing of workers and facilitate them in using their power.
What is or was your most challenging class at Heller?
Maybe Law and Social Justice: Constructions of Race and Ethnicity and Their Consequences, taught by Professor Anita Hill. There were a lot of concepts I was not familiar with and at times the subject matter was difficult and uncomfortable. Yet I think for myself as a white man, it was really important for me to be exposed to these subjects . I still feel like I am not fully conversant on all of the topics in terms of transformational justice and restorative justice, but at least it gave me a baseline which is really good and helpful.
What are some activities you are currently doing at Heller?
No disrespect to the faculty or administration, but the best part of Heller is my classmates. With a group of classmates we started our own independent student magazine, The Open Air Journal. We are able to publish student work which in other cases would go to waste in someone’s computer file and constructively criticize the way things are done at Heller. In general, Heller has been open to hearing about this criticism which is a tribute to them. Through this organization, we were able to meet a bunch of students throughout the programs, COEX, SID, and I got to know a lot of my own classmates in the MPP program a little better through their writing. For me, personally, I feel like that is where I come alive and I can express myself. I really value that we are able to provide our classmates with a space to experience this in addition to improving their writing skills. We are publishing our Fall 2022 edition online this month, November 21st, and we have submissions from all different co-horts: creative, academic, and even a podcast! This is a long term project so even when I am gone there will be first years taking over, so if anyone reading is interested, let me know and I can facilitate that.
What are your plans after Heller?
I am going to win the lottery and not worry about anything. Nah, I am just kidding! I either want to work in organized labor directly or work in policy, whether that is in a think tank or government agency. I want to be helping workers rights and/or facilitating worker power whether that is in the Department of Labor, Office of Budget and Management, or a progressive think tank. I am looking all around I have a couple of target organizations in mind but I am keeping my options open as well.
Any advice you would like to give prospective students?
Believe that you are worthy of being here and that the institution has to live up to you and not the other way around.
Wow, what a strong way to end this blog post! Thank you Bob for stepping into the Admissions Blog Room. If you are interested or know someone who maybe interested in joining the Open Air Journal when arriving to Heller contact email@example.com. See everyone soon for another blog in Meet My Co-hort!