Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, February 11, 2022

Sarah Nesci, MPA

Sarah NesciThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hometown
Portland, Connecticut

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of Science in Business Management, University of Connecticut

Professional/research interests
Housing and social policy

Expected graduation date
2023

Why an MPA?
After completing my undergraduate degree in 2017, I spent a year working at a rural homeless shelter in Colorado. This experience sparked my desire to work in policy, specifically housing and welfare policy. I believe that we can be doing a lot more to help people before they reach the shelter system. I am hoping to use my MPA to help make housing more accessible for everyone. 

Why the La Follette School?
I was drawn to La Follette for its location in a small, capital city with lots of opportunities to work in government and non-profits.  I also had a friend whose brother attended La Follette, and he told me that the skills he learned in his courses are incredibly relevant for his job today.

Career goals?
I hope to make a difference in an area of social policy. More specifically, I would love to work for a federal or state agency that works directly on housing issues, whether that be in a research capacity or working directly with those creating and implementing policy.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
I am currently taking a housing course with Professor Kurt Paulsen, and it may be the first class that I’ve had where I actually want to read the textbook. Housing policy is intrinsically linked to income, transportation, and so many other aspects of our lives, and this course really provides insight into how those factors affect supply and demand for housing. I think this course will provide a solid foundation for working in any area of the housing sector.

Most challenging La Follette School experience?
My most challenging experience at La Follette thus far has been learning Stata in my PA 818: Intro to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis and PA 819 Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis courses. I am not the most tech-savvy, so learning a new software program feels like learning a new language. The professors and TAs have been very helpful, though, and I am confident that I will be mildly proficient in Stata by the time I graduate!

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
My La Follette courses are helping me to better understand all of the components that go into making and implementing public policy. It is definitely not as simple as “find a problem-create a solution- implement the solution” like I used to think. As Professor Teodoro would say, policy is always morphing in the ‘primeval soup’.

Before the La Follette School
Before enrolling at La Follette, I was the Operations Manager of Recycling Works (RW), a non-profit recycling company in Missoula, Montana. I completed a second year of AmeriCorps in Missoula, where I helped co-found RW to bring glass recycling to this small mountain community. My experience learning the ins and outs of running a non-profit also inspired my decision to come to La Follette, by highlighting the ways we depend on non-profits to fill the gaps in the private market and provide basic human services.