Hersheena Rajaram ’19 is three months into her job as a data analyst at the University of Michigan Youth Policy Lab, and is convinced that experiences she had at Hamilton helped provide a foundation for her to build the research and data analysis skills she uses every day.
The Youth Policy Lab helps community and government agencies evaluate their programs and identify what can make a measurable impact based on evidence. These projects seek to improve living standards in Michigan and include childhood literacy, college access, and youth workforce development programs.
Rajaram, an economics major, said that during her first two summers at the College she worked as a Levitt Center Research Fellow with Professor of Economics Paul Hagstrom on his study of refugee secondary migration in the United States. “This experience served as an introduction to research and motivated me to pursue a career in economics research,” she said.
Hometown: Vacoas, Mauritius
High School: Dr. Maurice Curé State College
After her third year, Rajaram interned at the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs and applied her research, data analysis, and writing skills to a more professional setting. “These experiences directed my job search toward research and policy positions in development economics,” she recalled.
In addition to taking economics classes, and her senior thesis work with Hagstrom, Rajaram volunteered and worked with the refugee community in Utica. “(That) taught me how to effectively engage with local partners – an essential part of the Youth Policy Lab’s work of informing policy through evidence in Michigan,” she said.
As a staff member at the University of Michigan, Rajaram continues to learn beyond her work at the Lab by taking classes and attending workshops on innovative research methods and policy practices. “I’m also looking forward to learning from graduate students at the university so as to guide my plans for further studies,” Rajaram said. “Overall, the university provides a dynamic community to learn and inform my next steps.”
In the long term, Rajaram wants to pursue graduate studies in development economics.