Dear Future Andrea,
Well, it looks like we did it! We are finally graduating with a Master’s in Public Policy from The Heller School. Congratulations!
I’m not surprised. Well, I’m a little surprised. Let’s be honest, neither of us thought we’d make it through Econometrics or Economic Theory unscathed. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about our final capstone. But we made it, and I’m sure you’ve learned some incredible lessons along the way. I’m only two months in at this point, but I’ve already uncovered some surprising insights on police brutality and other forms of oppression through my research. I’ve also learned that it is both useful and encouraged to speak up to leadership when you and others believe that something isn’t right. I hope that you have expanded upon these lessons and they have led you to opportunities that I can only imagine.
I wish you were here now to answer some of my questions. Do we ever return to courses in person? How does the political climate affect our emotional and mental health? How does it affect the direction of our classes? Has the struggle of attending graduate school during one of the most politically and socially tumultuous times brought our cohort closer together? What future opportunities should I keep my eye out for? Where does my path lie after graduate school?
That last question is truly the most important. Where is this degree taking me? Will I continue my research by entering a PhD program, in hopes of one day becoming an expert on police reform? Or will I return to the world of nonprofits and grassroots organizing, taking what I’ve learned to help turn the needs of a community into policy? What if I took that one step further and worked as a lobbyist helping to create the policy that will impact communities? Or maybe I’ll spend some time in a local government department, gaining tangible experience in the sector of policy implementation? It’s possible that I could end up on any of these paths.
I have a feeling I know which one you ended up choosing, but I’m dying to know if I’m right! Sigh. You would probably tell me to relax and enjoy the ride. Smell the roses. Take in the scenery. All that junk.
Alright, I hear you. I’ll work on enjoying every last moment of this experience. At the same time, I’ll focus on taking every opportunity to learn as much as possible about the issues I’m most passionate about. The beautiful thing about an MPP degree is the ability to apply every lesson to your particular field, to truly build your expertise. I’ll continue to do that while you celebrate. And one day soon, I’ll catch up to you.
Enjoy your graduation, future Andrea. I’m sure you’ve earned it.