headshot of Zubair Merchant with quote with advice for prospective students
Zubair Merchant MPP 2025 is appreciative of the many opportunities at HKS—both inside and outside of the classroom. Read more about Zubair’s HKS experience and advice for prospective students below.

Prior to attending Harvard Kennedy School, Zubair was an educator and campaign organizer, working on local and presidential campaigns. He is originally from New York, a political junkie, Steph Curry and Drake fan, and proud of his Ismaili-Muslim and South Asian heritages.

What inspired you to choose Harvard Kennedy School?

I wanted to expand my skillset, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and I wanted to learn about the skill and practice of leadership.

What expectations did you have before arriving?

I was concerned that the MPP class size might be too big, but after I arrived I realized how quickly HKS can come to feel like a small community.

What is your favorite thing about your experience at HKS?

Definitely the people. I’ve already made so many lifelong friends at HKS and have connected with more people—and faster—than I expected before arriving. Diversity is truly the strength of this institution: You can meet people from around the world who come from a plethora of social, professional, political, and cultural backgrounds and learn an incredible amount about them and the world.

In what ways do you engage with the Harvard Kennedy School community outside of the classroom?

I am the Executive VP of the Kennedy School Student Government, a research assistant for Professor Bruce Schneier at the Ash Center, in the Harvard Square to Oval Office program, a participant in the Center for Public Leadership’s Money and Power Co-Curricular Program, and a bench warmer for the intramural basketball team.

What advice would you offer to prospective students considering Harvard Kennedy School?

If you want to be challenged—both academically and in terms of your worldview—you should come here. If you want to literally meet the most diverse cohort of people you’ve ever met, you should also come here. Once you’re at HKS, I recommend approaching and embracing the many, many opportunities here with an abundance mindset. (Also, look out for the free food—seriously.)

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