2014-2015 HKS Student Ambassadors - Post 1

The staff of the Admissions Office is happy to answer questions prospective applicants have, but another great way to learn about HKS is to interact directly with students. The HKS Student Ambassadors program provides the opportunity for prospective students to communicate with current students.  If you are a prospective student with questions simply visit this form and fill in your information. 

Please do understand that responses may not always be immediate. Our students are committed to their academic, professional, and personal growth and thus it can take some time for ambassadors to respond to requests.

The HKS Student Ambassadors program is chaired by two students each year and Phoebe Kotlikoff (just starting the second year of her MPP program) is a co-chair this year. Phoebe composed the entry below.  In a future entry we will feature the second co-chair, Deng Majok Chol.


Hello HKS prospective students!

My name is Phoebe Kotlikoff and I grew up in Ithaca, New York - home of Cornell University, the Finger Lakes, delicious maple syrup, and winters more frigid and everlasting than Boston’s. Before coming to HKS I was a student at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland. I came to the Kennedy School as a brand new naval officer straight out of “college.” I am halfway through the MPP program in the IGA track. This summer I have been working for the International Atomic Energy Agency as an intern in the Nuclear Power Technology Development Section. I have been incorporating non-proliferation language into documents for countries interested in starting new nuclear energy programs.

I am very excited to be a part of the newly named HKS Student Ambassadors program. As a coordinator, I will be matching up prospective students who plan to visit campus (you!) with awesome, energetic, and informative HKS students with similar interests. In order to sign up, please click here. We are also looking forward to answering any questions you might have about classes at HKS, life as a student, what it’s like to live in Cambridge, or anything else that comes to mind.

Since HKS students are spread out all across the globe during the summer with varying access to email, don’t worry if it takes some time to get a response. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Phoebe Kotlikoff, MPP ‘15

Tags: student life

2014 New Student Post #7: Abdulaziz Said, MPP

Greeting folks,

My name is Abdulaziz Said and I’m a new MPP student, but I’m no stranger to the Harvard campus. Last spring, I completed my master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I’m really passionate about merging diplomacy and education. This largely stems from my experience teaching English to Turkish university students in central Anatolia. Thus, I found the combination of the Education School and the Kennedy School quite fitting.

I completed my summer internship at the Press and Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Mission to the United Nation where former Kennedy School Professor Samantha Power is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Power also served as the Founding Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at HKS. 

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations is unlike any other diplomatic post — it is at the forefront of U.S. multilateral engagement in response to global crises and challenges while also represented at the cabinet-level of the Obama Administration. As a Press Intern, I was part of a team responsible for carefully monitoring breaking news around the world and informing senior U.S. officials. Within hours of releasing official statements or remarks from the U.S. Mission, news outlets including the wires such as the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse would be buzzing with articles featuring our statements. With Twitter, the response was immediate.  

I also had the great opportunity of helping the U.S. Mission host and engage numerous students groups and NGOs on a myriad of issues from elaborating on U.S. foreign policy to helping students gain international exposure domestically. It was a humbling experience for me, because six years ago I was sitting in these students’ seats and now I’m on path to joining the U.S. Foreign Service after graduate school. I cannot underscore how pivotal visiting the State Department and other leading international organizations were in motivating me to pursue a career in international affairs.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this internship was made possible by the Pickering Graduate Fellowship. This means after HKS, I will be serving at least five years in the U.S. Foreign Service — hopefully a lifetime of service. I strongly encourage American students applying to the Kennedy School and committed to serving in the U.S. Foreign Service to consider these three following fellowships: Pickering, Rangel and Payne Fellowship.

I also got a chance to flex my photography skills, but sometimes my shots were a couple of seconds off – as evident in the photo below. Can you name the 1985 HKS alumnus below?



On my last day, Ambassador Power implored the interns in a farewell statement to “know something about something” and master it. It was an exhilarating summer and I’m excited to start my Kennedy School journey.


Abdulaziz Said

PS I have an inkling I might be in East Asia next summer. Who’s ready for some kimchi (김치)?

2014 New Series Links

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Tags: MPP internship

2015 Application Admissions Flow Chart

This blog is text heavy, but I try to mix in pictures and visual diagrams when I am able. To help applicants understand the admissions process, we have put together a flow chart which we hope will assist in understanding the processing of applications and our timeline for those submitting applications for 2015 admission consideration. I recommend that each applicant engage in the old school practice of printing it and putting it somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis. Out of site, out of mind. Click here for the full PDF document.



Tags: application

2014 Summer Student Series - Post 20: Mick Power, MPP’15: Center for Public Leadership Dubin Summer Fellowship

Click here to refer back to an earlier post written by Mick Power.


For most of the past four years, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to create change. As a campaigner and lawyer for two environment NGOs back in Australia, it was my job to try and move government to take action on climate change, and turn one of the world’s highest per capita polluters into a clean energy leader. So yes, the last 12 months have been depressing for me, and no, I don’t feel proud that Australia is now the first nation to repeal a carbon price. With the West Antarctic ice sheet now confirmed to be irreversibly collapsing, and recent research suggesting that catastrophic warming can only be avoided by taking drastic action before 2017, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

It’s led me to think a lot about what went right and what went wrong. For a while there, we were winning. Australia was committed to a carbon price, a green bank, and a renewable energy standard. Looking back, although a strong, organized movement was always indispensable to that success, the lynchpin that often made change possible was political leaders who were willing to stick their neck out and connect that grassroots momentum to the policymaking apparatus, championing the cause within government. Although attention so often focused on the centrists whose votes were key to building a majority, it was those members on the flanks who would take leadership and bring their colleagues along on an issue.

So this summer, I chose to work for one of those leaders, as a fellow with Senator Brian Schatz. Hawaii’s newest member of Congress, Senator Schatz has already staked out a position as a climate leader, organizing 30 of his fellow Senators in an all-night session on the Senate floor to draw attention to the climate crisis. As Lieutenant-Governor he led the Clean Energy Initiative to achieve 70% clean energy by 2030, and his re-election campaign has made it very clear that climate action is a top priority.


It’s hard to think of a more challenging place for climate hawks than the US Senate. In a time when a historically low number of bills are being passed, energy and climate legislation has fared particularly poorly in the 113th Congress, with even moderate bipartisan legislation like the Shaheen-Portman bill falling flat in a seemingly intractable dispute over Senate floor procedure. Anything that looks even faintly like climate action gets a Keystone XL amendment tacked onto it, and promptly falls over. It’s little wonder then that many have given up on Congress, urging people to refocus on states and cities instead.

Yet not everyone has given up so quickly. As a fellow in Senator Schatz’s office, I’ve been working with the Climate Action Task Force — a group of progressive legislators who are working to organize their colleagues behind strong climate and energy policy. As a member of that group, Senator Schatz has taken on the role of leading the caucus from a strong progressive base, not just on climate change but on expanding social security, access to higher education and championing LGBT rights.

Working with the Senator’s legislative team, I’ve seen the process through which we developed our strategy to defend strong climate and environment policy, and continue to move the broader debate forward. With the release of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, our group of legislators worked to fend off attempts from conservative Republicans to attach riders to budget bills that would hold the government hostage to demands to gut the Clean Air Act.

We’ve also worked to provide policy leadership in the green economy space. Building on the work of our allies in the movement, I’ve worked to shed light on the exposure of the US economy to risk from climate change and water shortages, and improve the disclosure of these risks by public companies. I’ve also worked on policy to analyze climate and environment policy in terms of its economic value, including by working up some options to finance investment in job-creating clean water and energy infrastructure.

In some ways it’s reinforced my belief that government is not where real power lies. Realizing how far apart Democrats and Republicans caucuses are and how helpless legislators are to pass laws has reminded me that politicians can only work with the political hand that they are dealt. But in other ways, it’s shown me how politicians can wield a different kind of power, by occupying the space where democracy meets policy, connecting their values and their allies to the conversation inside-the-beltway, and steering their issues along as they ride the political undercurrent.

Working with lobbyists from the other side of the table has been particularly useful for me. As someone who spent time lobbying politicians and government, I’ve learnt so much from seeing how and why some lobbyists are so much more effective than others. After meeting with representatives from electricity utilities, oil and gas companies, not-for-profits and constituent groups, I’ve gleaned some techniques that I could use to strengthen the hand of community lobbyists in future.

Seeing how porous the line between government and movement is in DC, with staff moving between think tanks and NGOs and business and campaigns and political offices, I’ve rethought my previous understanding of the choice I face between working in government and working in the movement. I’ve learnt an awful lot about how change happens along the chain from the grassroots through the movement to the political level and into tangible policy change, which I’ll be able to use from either side of that blurry line in future, to work towards creating that change that I’m still pursuing.

2014 Summer Series Links

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Tags: MPP internship

2014 Essay Notes - Post 1

Often applicants will ask a question along the lines of, “What is THE most important part of the admission application?”  Our review process is very holistic, but when asked to name one part, I say the application essays. Sure we wish to see evidence of academic competency, a strong service/work history, and solid test scores, but for me the essays are where I get to know an applicant. Interviews are not a standard part of our admission review process and the essays are the closest thing you have to an interview with those reading your application. 

The last two years I published a series on the blog centered on rereading essays from the previous year and tracking my thoughts while reading.  The goal was not to provide templates for how to write effective essays; rather my hope was to assist applicants in thinking about their own personal motivations and how to best communicate their passion, experience, future goals, and motivation for attending HKS. 

I am not surprised at how many applicants ask me if I will share sample essays, but I think sharing samples would likely do more harm than good. In my case, when I see a sample of something it is hard to get the sample out of my head. Following sample essays is not a good idea because you want your essays to be distinctly YOU, something that will leave a lasting image in the mind of the application readers.

When writing on the blog sometimes I have used the term essay and at other times personal statement. The terms are somewhat interchangeable, but essays is probably a better description. 

I will note that some essay questions have changed for this year so please review this previous post for topics included in the application this year.  Even though some questions are different and my notes will be on the questions used last year, I think it will still be a helpful exercise.

As I wrote in a previous entry, I would say that out of all the applications I read each year, about 10% of the essays I read really grab me or leave a lasting impression.  A large number of essays do a very effective job of stating the case for admission, but a small number capture my imagination and get me really excited about the impact the applicant will possibly have on the world.  As you piece your essays together, I think the word impact is a good one to have in your mind.  
As I go through the essays I am going to type out the things going through my head. I want the notes to really capture what is going through my mind at the time I am reading and thus I am not going to adhere to standard grammar rules – just as with the normal side notes I make on files I want to return to at a later time.  
I pulled up my notes from last year and have started to dig through our archives to find the files I noted would be good to revisit - stay tuned.


Louis M. Bacon Environmental Graduate Fellowship



The following message was submitted to us by Barbara Best, Director of Student and Fellows Programs at the HKS Center for Public Leadership.

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I am writing with exciting news: the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has just announced the launch of the Louis M. Bacon Environmental Leadership Program, a fellowship for emerging leaders in environmental public policy and practice.
CPL is recruiting an inaugural cohort of five fellows. We are looking to recruit future leaders in the environmental community who are currently working in NGOs, government, and business to apply to HKS by December 2, 2014. These fellows will come to Harvard and immerse themselves in discussions about environmental challenges; they will learn from Harvard faculty and from each other, and will emerge with new skills and ideas to apply to the world.
The Bacon Fellowship will provide a full tuition scholarship, health insurance, a $10,000 living stipend, and a comprehensive co-curricular program for up to five admitted HKS degree candidates each year. Students from joint-or concurrent-degree programs are encouraged to apply.

To apply for the 2015-2016 academic year, prospective degree candidates will have to complete two steps:

  • First, apply to HKS by December 2, 2014.
  • Second, apply for the fellowship by February 26, 2015.

In addition to serving as founder and CEO of Moore Capital Management, LP, Louis Bacon has been advocating for more than 20 years for conservation and protection of natural resources in the United States and abroad. In 1992, he founded The Moore Charitable Foundation to support nonprofit organizations with a focus that includes land and water conservation. 

To learn more about the Bacon Fellowship, click here

If you—or anyone interested in applying—have any questions about the fellowship, please contact our program manager, Sharon Watson Fluker, at Sharon_Watson_Fluker@hks.harvard.edu or (617) 496-3744.
The fellowship also includes a potential slot for a post-doctoral scholar or early career faculty member to participate in the cohort. Qualified candidates should feel free to contact us directly for more information.

2014 New Student Post #6: Carolyn Anderson, MC/MPA 2015

Carolyn Anderson is a senior civil servant, policy expert and lawyer who has advised on and influenced many public policy areas including technology, innovation, digital economy, science and research, skills and education, industry development and community capacity building.

Carolyn is currently working as a Strategist with Explor - Digital Futures, a national consultancy specializing in assisting governments, councils, institutions, communities and organisations to realize the benefits of a digitally enabled and pervasively connected world.

As a South Australian Government Executive for 14 years Carolyn led the development of South Australia’s efforts to become a high skilled, high value add economy through the support and application of science, technology and innovation.

As a commercial lawyer, she worked in both private practice and in the Crown Solicitor’s Office specializing in commercial, public administration, contract, and intellectual property law.

Carolyn has served on a number of boards and councils: University of Adelaide, St. Ann’s College, Playford Capital Pty Ltd, SABRENet Ltd, BioInnovationSA and the Australian Dance Theatre.

She holds a Masters of Laws and a Master of Business Administration. She also is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Director’s Diploma. 

Carolyn’s interests include fitness, reading, cryptic crosswords, travel, cricket, cartooning, having a laugh, eating, drinking and sleeping.

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I am writing this post at the base of an active volcano in Costa Rica.  Arenal, and indeed Costa Rica, is an impossibly long journey from Adelaide South Australia where I hail from.  A check on the web reveals that it would take no less than 36 hours to get here from my home city.  Whilst Australians are used to long distances, 36 hours hurts to think about.  Two three hours flights from Boston is a doddle in comparison.

Why am I in Costa Rica? Simple. Because a classmate comes from here and at one of the many potlucks organized by the MPA class of 2015 the seed was sown to venture beyond the Boston city limits during the welcome break between Summer School and the start of the School Year. Mind you, with classmates hailing from 70 countries there are a lot of travel options.  And in that sentence lies the essence of “why Harvard”? “Why the Kennedy School”? The answer is because nowhere else is there a chance to mingle with such an extraordinarily diverse range of people and culture; and because this school embraces people who believe in the ideal of public service. 

Approximately half of my class, similar to me, is in transition. These people, already successful in various fields, are asking themselves is there more to life, can I do more, be more?

The most astonishing thing for me is that this school cares less about individual achievement and more about the preparedness of its students to dedicate themselves to becoming better, more rounded people and professionals – ready to take on the challenge of an uneasy world.  You are constantly exhorted to stretch, to leave the comfort of the familiar. The administration and academic staff are genuinely committed to the principle that students should probe their weak spots, to build on skills that are missing – not just maximize grade point average. 

The Kennedy School family is emotionally invested in your progress in the service of others. Frank Hartman speaks of “honor and fidelity”, about “integrity amongst seduction and confusion”. It is these principles that have made successful bankers and entrepreneurs seek out the Kennedy program (and there are several in my class), to find out how they too can commit to a life of service to the public, to find meaning beyond fortune and even fame.

Yes, there are famous people who have attended the school – prominent politicians, diplomats, opinion-makers. For me though, the validation of the School’s commitment lies in the way that it honors stories about the non-famous people.  The ones who have returned to their far flung homes and have quietly gone about trying to make a difference – the not for profit workers, government bureaucrats, servicemen and women, social entrepreneurs.

What do I expect to get out of the Kennedy School experience? To be frank, my answer changes almost on a daily basis.  This is because of the very challenge that the School poses.  Do you want to do what you have done before (and that is quite OK by the way because you will do it better after attending HKS), or find some new path to follow?

We will see what the next year brings.

Series Links

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Upcoming Information Sessions

The following comes to us from the MPA/ID Program Office. 

Event 1

Join us for an Info Session in Washington, DC on Friday, September 12. The Info Session will focus on the MPA/ID Program, but all prospective HKS applicants are welcome.

World Bank, Washington, DC
12:00–1:00 pm 

RSVP required by Thursday, September 11 at noon. Please register to attend this event here.


Event 2

Join MPA/ID alumni David Goldstein ‘04 and MPA alumni Bahadir Yadikar ‘07. This event will be held in Doha, Qatar on Monday, September 15. Please find additional details and sign up to attend this event here.

For questions, please contact mpaid_program@hks.harvard.edu.

Early September 2014 - Miscellaneous Notes

I thought I would take an entry to summarize some miscellaneous admission and recruitment notes.  

Our online application has been available for close to 5 days and citizens of over 70 countries have already logged in and started applications. Last year citizens of 135 different countries submitted applications and 82 countries are represented in our incoming class this year. Here is a map showing the citizenship of those who recently have started applications. 

imageMany residents of Los Angeles have asked if a representative of HKS will visit this fall and the answer is now yes. Representatives of HKS were available in both San Francisco and Oakland this past summer. Recent MPP graduate Ernesto Umaña will represent HKS at the Idealist.org graduate school fair in LA this November. Interested candidates can register here

Our event planning for a trip Mexico City continues to progress and details of a second event are now available. Details on our visit to Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas are available here. Details of our first event in Mexico City can be found in this previous blog post. We will also be visiting Monterrey. 

We will visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi the week of October 20th. We are currently making arrangements and when details are finalized information will be posted both to this blog and our recruitment calendar. 

Upcoming events in September include visits to Copenhagen, New York City (event 1 and event 2), Pune, India, Washington, DC, Oslo, Bergen, Toronto, and Geneva. For other future events, please click here

PPIA Fellowship Program 2015

Harvard Kennedy School is pleased to partner with the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program (PPIA). This year eight PPIA alumni are part of our new class.  The following comes from the PPIA website:


The Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA) is a not-for-profit that has been supporting efforts to increase diversity in public service for over 30 years. PPIA believes that our society is best served by public managers, policy makers, and community leaders who represent diverse backgrounds and perspectives. To achieve this goal, PPIA has an outreach focus on students from groups who are underrepresented in leadership positions in government, nonprofits, international organizations and other institutional settings. Furthermore, international affairs are increasingly mixed with local concerns. Addressing such global issues make diversity a critical goal in professional public service.

PPIA helps prepare undergraduates to be competitive candidates for top degree programs related to Public Policy, Public Administration, and International Affairs. HKS is committed to providing fellowship funding to PPIA participants admitted to our degree programs. The fellowship consideration process is competitive and awards amounts can differ. 

The entry point for the PPIA program is acceptance and attendance to one of four Junior Summer Institutes.  The institutes are conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, University of Michigan, and University of California, Berkeley.

Applicants to the PPIA program must have completed their junior year of college by the start of Junior Summer Institute.  Full eligibility criteria and a link to the application can be found by clicking here. The deadline to apply is November 1st, 2014.  If you are a college junior it would be wise to look into the program and if you do not qualify but know someone who might, please consider forwarding information about this unique opportunity. PPIA will host a webinar for interested applicants on September 15th from 12:00 to 1:00 PM EST. To register for the webinar click here

Tags: fellowship