MPA/ID candidate Lucila Arboleya

Sarah Oberst

Coming from a job managing randomized controlled trials on microcredit in the Philippines, I arrived at the Kennedy School convinced of the importance of rigorous analytical work in development, but unsure how to draw the connection between the research I had been doing and tangible changes to policy that would benefit the poor.

For my Second Year Policy Analysis (SYPA) I am working with a classmate develop a policy plan to improve teaching outcomes in the state of Antioquia, Colombia, where student test scores are some of the lowest in the region. We are grappling with the challenge of combining real-world data, which is inherently chaotic, with educational theory in order to design a policy that will be both effective and implementable given the constraints that the government faces.

Having this opportunity to learn from policymakers about the challenges and uncertainties they face in designing policy, and to be mentored by professors who are at the frontlines of theory in their fields, has made the SYPA an incredible learning experience and one of the most valuable aspects of my time at the Kennedy School.

Prior to her enrollment in the MPA/ID Program, Sarah spent two years managing an Innovations for Poverty Action team investigating the impact of microcredit in the Philippines While an undergraduate, Sarah represented Davidson College at the Rift Valley Institute in Kenya along with diplomats, scholars, and foreign aid workers.