Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Emma Heins, MPA, EAP

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Hometown
Fort Mill, SC

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental science, minor in public health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Professional/research interests
I am interested in the intersection between climate change and public health, specifically looking at health outcomes in marginalized communities. I am interested most in water quality and pollution regulation.

Expected graduation date
May 2022

Age
23

Why an MPA?
I got my bachelor’s degree in a very physical science, and I am very thankful for that because it grounded me in the science behind climate change and modern solutions. But I see policy as an excellent vehicle for change, and I knew I wanted to apply my background to shape the future of climate health and pollution control. I worked abroad for a nonprofit organization and saw first-hand how climate health decisions that we make in the U.S. affect other countries, and that solidified my aspiration to work in policy and get an MPA.

Why the La Follette School?
I chose the La Follette school because, even virtually, I could see the care that the professors and staff have for students. Entering during the pandemic, I wanted to know I was going into a smaller program with involved staff and faculty.

Work experience
I work for UW–Madison’s Division of Diversity, Education, and Educational Achievement as a Posse mentor. I mentor 10 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scholars from New York City and help them not only survive but thrive in college. I was drawn to this position because I worked in student success during my undergraduate studies, and I really enjoy being with the students.

Client-based courses
I am taking PA 881: Cost Benefit Analysis with Assistant Professor Morgan Edwards, and we did a client project with the City of Racine. We performed a cost benefit analysis on lead pipe replacement throughout the city to minimize negative health effects. It was beneficial to apply economic principles I learned in classes with a real-world client and to get some practical experience liaising and communicating with a client.

Advice for prospective students
My advice would be to take classes that are outside of your comfort zone! Grad school is a unique way to expand your skill set and strengths, not just to take classes that you’re familiar with.