What is Your Why?


As our students look ahead to the academic year, it's also important they reflect back and remember why they decided to come to HKS.

What drove them to apply? What impact do they want to have in the world? Which public problem do they want to tackle—and what or who inspired them to address that problem? Focusing on their “Why?” will help them to hone in on opportunities most meaningful to them, and to ensure that when they reflect on their HKS experience they feel satisfied it was time well spent.

Here are some of their Whys.


Headshot of Tess Kelly.

Tess Kelly MPA 2023


“As an Australian lawyer and policymaker, I am focused on addressing the overlapping health and legal needs of children that come into contact with justice and child protection systems. I am passionate about working to protect the rights of these children, and to prevent the harm these systems continue to perpetuate.”

Headshot of Leonardo da Silveira.

Leonardo da Silveira MC/MPA 2023


“My ‘why’ is to end poverty. I want to interact with the existing poverty alleviation structures, helping these increase their capacity to overcome intergenerational poverty cycles. Individual choices may explain a certain level of inequality, but I am convinced that poverty is a structural problem, a systemic and cruel policy failure.”

Headshot of Courtney Young.

Courtney Young MPA 2024


“I’m at the Kennedy School to relentlessly serve the community of people living with mental illness and addiction. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, I know that views can change, policies can change, and leadership can change. I’ve helped lead these changes, and I’m optimistic about society’s capacity to change.”

Headshot of Yomna Mohei Eldin

Yomna Mohei Eldin MPA/ID 2023


“I worked in consulting and macroeconomic policy in Egypt’s public sector for four years. To understand how to contribute to my country’s growth, I needed to think about politics, implementability, and impact assessment. More importantly, I wanted to learn from committed, intelligent, and passionate colleagues who faced similar issues in their own countries. That’s why I came to HKS.”

Headshot of Mauricio Amaya.

Mauricio Amaya MPA/ID 2023


“The problem that I am interested in untangling is why inequality and poverty are still so prevalent in my region and why our countries have not been able to catch up with other societies regarding economic development. What inspires me is the blatant suffering and injustice from economic deprivation and disparities.”

Headshot of Bianca Drebber.

Bianca Drebber MC/MPA 2023


“My trajectory in international development allowed me to translate my passion for women’s empowerment, human rights, and equal access to health into collective action. Being part of the HKS community is a unique opportunity for me to learn, reflect, and grow as a leader to push the boundaries of the impact we can achieve, together.” 

Headshot of Amita Ramachandran.

Amita Ramachandran MPA 2023


“I came to the Kennedy School because I’m committed to building an India that delivers on a decent standard of living for all Indians. Over my career, this has come to mean accelerating global climate action, and ensuring that countries like India can aspire to a future that is prosperous while being resilient and equitable.”

Headshot of Nurul Wakhidah.

Nurul Wakhidah PhD in Public Policy (Economics Track) 2027


“I aspire to do research that could inform policies to improve equality of opportunity in Indonesia, so I am pursuing my PhD at HKS, where research is not only academically rigorous but also policy-relevant.” 

Headshot of George Hampton.

George Hampton MC/MPA 2023

New Zealand 

“The challenges we face as a world require different thinking about what it means to exist fairly together. HKS is empowering me to help build a society at home that can redefine equity, where no one suffers in poverty or is deprived of the opportunity to do better.”

Headshot of Adefemi Bucknor-Arigbede.

Adefemi Bucknor-Arigbede MC/MPA 2023


“I want to untangle the unequal participation and representation of women in political processes, public leadership and nation building in my society. I want the voices and desires of all women to be heard and relevant in public discourse, policy, and governance. I want to make my mark on the world by leading by example.”

Headshot of Mon Abrea.

Mon Abrea MC/MPA 2023


“I want to know how I can better serve my country. I am at the Kennedy School so I can prepare myself for bigger responsibility as a future public servant who will uphold good governance, honesty, and integrity. I believe that ‘governance is a shared responsibility’ and we need to have the courage to speak truth to power.”

Headshot of Rita Rudnik.

Rita Rudnik MPA/ID 2023


“I grew up in a Siberian city called Krasnoyarsk that is geographically located closer to Beijing than to Moscow. I was fascinated to witness the rapid economic ascension of neighboring China. I came to the Kennedy School to understand what drives economic development—and how I can contribute to the prosperity of the Asia Pacific region.” 

Headshot of Jordi Calvet Bademunt.

Jordi Calvet Bademunt MC/MPA 2023


“After eight years at the OECD and law firms, I wanted to enhance my toolkit and become a more effective policymaker. At the Kennedy School, I will explore the implications of Big Tech for our societies and economies and how to adopt and enforce effective regulation.”

Headshot of Imogen Hobby.

Imogen Hobby MPP 2023


“Educational inequality is such a complex problem that it can sometimes feel overwhelming, but one thing I've learned here at the Kennedy School is that progress is made by those who show up and get to work, even when the task seems insurmountable. I hope to give all children a fair chance to thrive at school, and beyond.”