Student Spotlights


By Sherry Hakimi, Culture Editor, MPP ‘12

Name: Pablo Jaramillo-Quintero

Pablo Jaramillo QuinteroProgram:  MPA2

Nationality: Colombia/Brazil

Pre-HKS experience: Advisor, Office of the President, Colombia; Co-founder, Teach for Colombia

Highlights: I worked for the Colombian government for 4 years, basically in competitiveness and poverty issues. In my final two years with the government, I worked in the Office of the President. I was supporting the implementation of a “productive transformation policy” – based on Professor Hausmann’s Product Space theory – and improving the ease of doing business. I also worked on a huge anti-poverty program that reached 1.5 million families, going all around Colombia and visiting small towns in remote regions that I may not have ever made it to if I hadn’t been in that job. Last year, I co-founded Teach for Colombia, an NGO that replicates the TFA model in my country. I also co-founded Volunteers Colombia, which brings – in partnership with WorldTeach – American volunteers as English teachers for public schools in underserved communities. Since 2009, around 60 volunteers have taught more than 5,000 underprivileged students.

Summer experience: Intern, Department of Education, Brazil

Highlights: I worked in Rio de Janeiro at the Department of Education. I met a lot of people with different mindsets that were all trying to tackle a huge problem, which is education inequality. Everyone was trying to come up with novel solutions to tackle the issue. I got to meet a lot of education entrepreneurs, some of whom were HKS alumni. They are all creating different projects to contribute to this issue. For instance, I met the founders of Teach for Brazil, venture capitalists that are investing in education, and lot of people with amazing experience in education who were trying to improve teacher development in the public school network. However, the best part of my internship was living in Rio. The gorgeous carioca women, the samba, the food, the weekends on Copacabana and Ipanema beach, the soccer games. It was just amazing. Everyone should visit Rio at least once in life.

Tell us something that no one else at HKS knows about you: Two of my passions are diving and hiking. I have actually reached the summits of some of the highest peaks in Colombia, which are more than 15,000 feet (5,100 mts) above sea level.

Name: Yuki Kondo-Shah

Yuki Kondo-ShahProgram: MPP2

Nationality: USA/Japan

Pre-HKS experience: Admission Officer, Stanford University Office of Undergraduate Admission

Highlights: Evaluating 2,400 undergraduate applications. Breaking hearts (of high school students that were rejected from Stanford). The most important part of my job was working to recruit highly motivated students from low-income, refugee, and underrepresented Asian American communities. Working in admissions allowed me to learn about the US education system from many levels, and it was shocking to see well funded public schools that sent 86% of graduates to 4-year universities that were down the road from an under-resourced school that would send less than 10% to college. My passion is educational equality, and I am hoping to pursue this interest on an international scale as a Public Diplomacy Officer in the US Foreign Service.

Summer experience: Summer Fellow, U.S. Embassy | Hanoi, Vietnam. U.S. State Department

Highlights: I learned about cultural and educational diplomacy by working in the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy Vietnam. My highlight from the summer was being part of the Fulbright Interview committee for Vietnamese students who will study for a Masters in the U.S. It was amazing to see so many talented young professionals who are passionate about US higher education – soft power at work! Hanoi was an incredible place to spend the summer, and I was so lucky to have two HKS classmates to explore Vietnam with this past summer!

Tell us something that no one else at HKS knows about you: When I tell people that I am studying Uyghur at the yard, most people respond “Who?” and not “What”…but it is definitely my favorite class of the semester!

Name: Jay O’Brien

Program: MC/MPA ’12

Jay O'BrienNationality: United States (and Red Sox Nation)

Pre-HKS experience: I’ve certainly taken a zigzag route to get here, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. After undergrad at Holy Cross, I took my political science degree to Washington D.C., and eventually joined Senator Kennedy’s staff in his personal office in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Fascinating experience, but I realized that the government/politics kind of public service wasn’t for me. I then returned to New England and went into PR/marketing communications, first for the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball, and later for a high-tech software start-up, but that wasn’t driving me either. So I volunteered one day with Special Olympics Massachusetts – actually, at their June Summer Games held at the Harvard Athletic Grounds across the river   – and that’s when I found my calling. I spent the next nine years as both a field director and corporate fundraiser for the organization, which serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Loved every second of it. I came back to school to learn health policy (and, apparently, quant and econ) so that I might help address health care disparities for this amazing population.

Tell us something that no one else at HKS knows about you: I used to LOVE playing ping-pong, so I’m hoping that new table in Taubman is here to stay.

Name: Kelly Wyett

Program: MPA-ID2

Kelly WyettNationality: Australian

Pre-HKS experience: Economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

Highlights: I moved into the Media Office where I worked in public relations and making sure journalists had their facts straight. This was a particularly tough time as we were one of the only countries in the world increasing interest rates post financial crisis; so we weren’t exactly popular with the public.

I also spent 6 years as an officer in the Australian Army Reserve where my specialty was civil-military cooperation.

Summer experience: Intern at the Bank of South Sudan (BOSS)

Highlights: Over the summer I witnessed the birth of a nation, as well as the birth of a new central bank (slightly more nerdy, but still exciting). While I was there BOSS issued a new currency, celebrated with the President and suffered an attempted robbery. This central banking experience proved to be slightly more exciting than my time in Australia.

I was in South Sudan with 6 other MPAIDs. Together, we explored the country, mostly using UN flights; which don’t come with great service, but at least they were free! We also went to a traditional wedding of an HKS alum. This wedding was especially interesting because the groom and bride came from two tribes that had been pitted against each other in the civil war, a la Capulet and Montague. It was certainly a unique experience (i.e., long and hot, but thrilling, at least during the traditional dancing).

Tell us one thing that no one at HKS knows about you: I like to salsa dance…. actually a bunch of people know this about me. Sorry, I don’t have many interesting secrets.

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