Sanford’s Master of Public Policy program boasts a close community, influential faculty, new career opportunities, internships and practical experiences, innovative courses, a strong alumni network, leadership potential and global reach. The Sanford MPP program is among the top-ranked programs nationwide, with students and alumni making a difference in their communities around the world. Here are a few examples showcasing students and alumni of the program.
Introducing a few of our MPP Students
Seve Gaskin (dual MPP/MBA ’22) has a goal: to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. “I want to be a policymaker who spearheads access to quality and affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans.”
On his journey to achieve his dream, he is pursuing the concentration in Health Policy for the MPP and Health Sector Management for the MBA. Gaskin says the MPP program offers great breadth and depth, from topical courses in North Carolina politics and high-value health reform, to skills building classes in policy analysis, writing and quantitative methods.
One of his MPP highlights so far? “I was elected to serve as one of two first-year representatives on the MPP student council. Our team has worked Sanford’s MPP leadership team to reduce barriers to entry for prospective and admitted students,” he said.
Originally from Concord, N.C., Gaskin received his undergraduate degree from UNC in economics and public policy. One word for Duke Sanford? “Energetic!” A former architecture major, he enjoys the Sanford and Student Wellness Center buildings—albeit for different reasons. “Sanford and the Fleishman Commons are brought to life by the palpable energy of ‘outrageous ambitions’ and people who are eager to make a positive impact in society. In contrast, the serene atmosphere created by a mixture of oak, natural light, and views of the Duke Forest at the Student Wellness Center facilitates nurturing, introspection and reflection.”
Héctor Andrés Luna Iñiguez
Héctor Andrés Luna Iñiguez says the MPP program is about "trying to make an impact, to build a better world. The journey itself is amazing."
Héctor Andrés Luna Iñiguez (MPP ’21) is a civil engineer, which might not seem connected to policy – at first glance. “People often ask me how I ended up switching paths so drastically. But I don’t believe I did. Civil engineers and policymakers share common goals: solving society problems and enhancing people’s welfare.”
He chose the Sanford MPP program to make a difference in the world. “My dream job is one where every day I leave the office, I can be certain that I contributed in a way to make the world better.” He is pursuing a concentration in energy and environmental policy. “Our world is facing a true climate emergency and it is imperative to achieve decarbonization and boost green technologies. These goals can be attained by designing effective policies.” Originally from Mexico City, Iñiguez has worked for the Ministry of Energy of the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. and for the Mexican Council of Energy.
Why did he choose Sanford? “Since my campus visit, I knew Sanford was the right fit for me. This sentiment was reinforced during the open house. Professors, staff and students really made me feel home. The small class size, suburban setting and beautiful architecture also influenced my decision.” Plus: “The networking at Sanford is unbelievable. I have been able to connect with alumni working in the fields that I am interested in. Moreover, the amount of experience and diverse backgrounds of professors and peers is amazing.” One word for Duke Sanford? “Inspiring.”
Jasmine Masand (MPP ’21) is a Margolis Scholar in Health Policy & Management, one of a group of select students aspiring to be leaders. “My cohort of scholars includes students from the medical school, nursing program, law school, business school, and from Sanford. The best part of the program for me so far has been connecting with my peers across these schools and hearing their perspectives on health policy. We have so much to learn from each other across health-related disciplines,” she said.
This semester, she took a course at Duke Fuqua School of Business with other scholars about how health policy reforms impact entrepreneurship and innovation in healthcare. “I've never thought about health policy through that lens before, but it's teaching me that there's a lot more to the picture than how many people are covered and improving outcomes.”
Originally from Massachusetts, Masand previously worked at Mathematica as a program analyst in a data-driven environment, which encouraged her to sharpen her quantitative skills – leading her to the Sanford MPP program. Once she graduates, she hopes to apply her skills in her career. “While a lot of healthcare reform makes sense on paper in terms of economics, workflow in a doctor's office or hospital is really complicated. It's challenging to come up with reforms that won't overly burden healthcare providers with reporting requirements, but at the same time we need some way to measure the value of care.”
Learn more about Masand through her Humans of Duke Sanford profile.
Liam Miranda (MPP ’21) has a background in social science research about discrimination and disparities facing the LGBTQ community, specifically for transgender and non-binary people. “A significant portion of research doesn’t reflect who LGBTQ folk are and can run the risk of misrepresenting or misunderstating the challenges our community can face. Innovative, ethical and thoughtful research is a powerful tool in the policy process. I’m excited to be at Sanford figuring out the best way to equip advocates and community members with research that can help advance their important work,” Miranda says.
Originally from upstate New York, Miranda earned an undergraduate degree at Duke in psychology, with neuroscience and philosophy minors. Miranda designs training and curricula for an organization called the Inclusion Playbook to help sporting organizations, athletes and leagues do better social justice work.
After graduation? “I’d love to continue my work somewhere that believes in the vital connection between research and action. As a transgender researcher who both studies and experiences (some of) the disparities I’m writing about, I know how important it is to put our research to work and how essential of a tool it can be for actually reducing the harm we observe.” Sanford in a word? “Resolute. I’m in awe of my peers and their work. These folks are all pushing to make important changes across the board, in challenging situations, under changing conditions.”
Humans of Duke Sanford project
“Something that I never really thought I would be interested in is getting a firm understanding of tax policy. Prof. Cory Krupp in the upper level foundations course for the MPP program, was able to teach us a lot about the Earned Income Tax Credit, and that wowed me. I don’t know why but I love the Earned Income Tax Credit. The fact that it is trapezoid-shaped in nature helps alleviate poverty at a number of levels and doesn’t have a “cliff” like other social benefit programs do made me really analyze a lot of other public service programs. How can current inefficiencies in the way that this work is being done for Medicaid or SSI or anything else borrow the lessons that were learned from the implementation of the Earned Income Tax Credit? So that’s something I didn’t really think I would be excited about but I really like it.” . — Louie Scola, 2nd Year MPP #MPPatDuke #DukeUniversity #HumansofDukeSanford
“I decided that policy was for me after working in direct-practice social work for a few years. My most recent position was as an AmeriCorps member in Memphis, Tennessee where I provided free vision screenings for children throughout the city and I also provided free income tax preparation for low income families and individuals. Working as a tax preparer in Memphis I was able to hear so many compelling stories from low income individuals and families who were struggling to make ends meet and for whom it was very difficult to have basic needs met. There was one particular story of a woman who received the largest refund she had ever received of $500, and she was so excited because she would be able to use that money to repair her home and just make the home more livable. It’s something she had been wanting to do for who knows how long and she finally was able to finance those repairs. I realized that I could be more effective from a policy standpoint. So, I decided to go to policy school and to learn how to affect change for the lives of low income individuals on a grander scale than I could have as a direct-practice practitioner.” - Sabrina Davis, MPP’20
Mary Ann Osiecka
“I’m working on the impact of 5G on rural development and how it could potentially impact manufacturing and labor flows in those areas. Over the summer I interned at VMware, and I was talking with the government relations head. He was talking about working in 5G and he said one area that no one has explored is how could it impact rural areas. . Growing up in a rural area and seeing and thinking through what caused economic development was really interesting and was what drove me to come back to school. Especially with the last election [rural development] was a huge talking point. I think because few people from rural areas actually end up in places of power, [lawmakers] are less likely to think though those implications.” — Mary Ann Osiecka, Dual Degree MPP/MBA ‘20 . #humansofdukesanford