Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Margarita Northrop, MIPA/MPH

Margarita Northrop, MIPA/MPH

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies, certificate in global health, University of Wisconsin–Madison; bachelor’s degree equivalent in economics of trade from the University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria

Professional/research interests
Political Economy of Health; Refugee and Migrant Studies

Gordon Johnsen Health Management Fellow, University of Wisconsin Madison – Fall 2014

Expected graduation date
May 2017

Why did you pursue dual master’s degrees in international public affairs and public health?
I have always been interested in social justice and health equity, and my strong belief in the power of public service made the choice to pursue a dual degree an easy one. In particular, the need to focus on international public affairs became apparent as I was wrapping up my undergraduate Global Health Certificate. After a couple of months at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, I realized that the global-to-local perspective is nowhere more apparent than in the health studies.

Why the La Follette School?
After three years and, what felt like, hundreds of pages of research papers in UW–Madison’s Political Science Department, I knew my writing and qualitative research skills were above average. What I was seeking to improve during my graduate years were my quantitative skills. There is no policy school in the Midwest that offers more rigorous quantitative classes than the La Follette School.

If you have a paid job, where do you work and how does it relate to your coursework?
For the past two years, I have been employed as a refugee health and TB associate at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. The skills and knowledge that I obtained through my job have proven very helpful and relevant to the client-based La Follette classes (Cost-Benefit Analysis and Workshop in International Public Affairs).

What courses have you taken in which you’ve done work for real clients?
Cost Benefit Analysis: Our group was charged by the International Rescue Committee (the IRC) with conducting a cost-benefit analysis for two of their livelihood programs (Cash-for-Work and Microenterprise) offered to vulnerable local populations and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

PA 860 Workshop: I am part of a group of La Follette students working on a research project for UNICEF. We are looking at educational systems and countries recognized as best performers by all international educational standards, stratifying them based on how successful their most disadvantaged students are. The goal is to single out system characteristics and practices that lead to successful outcomes for the most marginalized children.

Career goals
I hope to spend my life in public service, ideally in the health field – regardless of the “employer,” I will be content only if my work benefits society and improves the lives of others.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
A degree in public policy from one of the best-respected policy schools in the country will ensure a successful start to my career.

Advice to prospective La Follette School students
Get some rest before your first semester – you will not regret it when December rolls around! La Follette classes are rigorous, with high degree of difficulty, but professors and staff will be eager to support you.

Most challenging experience at the La Follette School
Balancing classes with work and family commitments.

Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School
Becoming part of the La Follette community – alumni, current students, and faculty. Bragging rights.

People would be surprised if they knew ...
That I am actually an optimist.