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FEMA Corps to Harris School to Chicagoland Policy Lead

June 29, 2017

Shehara Waas served as an AmeriCorps member with the FEMA Corps program between 2013 and 2014, working as an Environmental Consultant for FEMA’s Office of Environmental and Historical Preservation.

“In my experience, AmeriCorps’ various service programs target those who want to understand how collective action and genuine public interest can make an impact,” says Waas.

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Waas built on her AmeriCorps experience at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, where she recently earned a master’s degree in public policy. With the solid foundation in service she got through AmeriCorps and the high-level analytical skills she acquired during her time at Harris, she’s now well equipped to make social impact on a large scale. After working with Fresh Taste to strengthen good policy in the Chicago region, Shehara’s most current role is with the Metropolitan Planning Council as a Research Associate.

Chicago Harris recently strengthened its commitment to helping AmeriCorps alumni like Waas continue to pursue positive change after their service term ends. For incoming students in the Fall of 2018, Harris will match in full the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award provided to AmeriCorps alumni who enroll in a master’s degree program. Harris began the full matching program in the Fall of 2017 and is the first policy school in the state of Illinois to offer such matching funds.

“Whereas some look at a situation and say, ‘Someone should do something about that,’ AmeriCorps members see the situation and say, ‘I will do something about that,’” says Scott McFarland, executive director of Serve Illinois, which administers AmeriCorps programs across Illinois. “I want to thank Harris for showing that our colleges and universities understand that these AmeriCorps volunteers are the best that America has to offer.”

Adam McGriffin, associate director of career development at Harris, has worked extensively with AmeriCorps as a member, program director and commissioner. He believes that the investment builds on the shared priorities of AmeriCorps and Harris. “I’ve been involved with AmeriCorps at every level and can confidently say that AmeriCorps service, combined with the rigorous quantitative training offered at Harris, creates the ideal combination of firsthand experience and world-class education to develop the next generation of effective change agents,” says McGriffin, an AmeriCorps alum.

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ABOUT HARRIS

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy was founded on the belief that rigorous, quantitative research is the best guide for public policy. Since 1988, when the School opened its doors, it has built on the University of Chicago’s rich legacy as one of the world’s leading educational and research institutions. Honoring its foundation, Harris does not restrict itself to any particular policy domain but distinguishes itself by its unique point of view. From urban studies to early childhood development, from environmental sustainability to global health and more, Harris brings an exacting, data-driven perspective to the full spectrum of policy concerns.

Continually adapting to address the world’s most complex social challenges, the school is a pre-eminent source of scholarship with immediate relevance to practitioners. Our students come to us with the ambition to make a difference, and they graduate with a set of skills that enable them to become effective policy leaders. Harris alumni are thriving in a wide range of fields, but they are united by their belief that there is a science to social impact.

All students are required to take a year-long core curriculum providing a multidisciplinary foundation in policy analysis. Electives deepen students’ quantitative and critical thinking skills in areas such as economics, statistics, decision theory, political economy and organizational theory. Students are also encouraged to develop areas of expertise and acquire real-world training through coursework at Harris and other schools at the University, as well as through internships, practica and independent research projects.

In the most recent Career Outcomes Report surveying 2016 graduates, 97% of reporting 2016 graduates secured employment, and 92% reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their job. Among U.S. citizens, 42% of students reported roles in the private sector, 32% in the non-profit/NGO/IGO sector, and 26% reported employment within Public Service or a Government Agency. Regardless of their career path, graduating students are ready not only to be outstanding policy analysts but to lead policy change.

Like AmeriCorps members and alumni, Harris students, faculty, and alumni bring passion and precision to complex challenges. They know how to figure out what’s best for society—and get it done.

To learn more about Harris and to determine which program is the best fit for you, please contact the Harris Admissions Team at harrisadmissions@uchicago.edu

Partner post courtesy of the University of Chicago Harris School

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