Student Spotlight: Zhiling Meng

ZMphotoSpotlight

I am a first-year master’s degree candidate for Public Policy, concentrating in Children, Youth, and Families (CYF). Here at Heller, I am learning policy analysis and practicing strategic planning and evaluation, specifically in early childhood development and education. 

Before coming to Heller, I was a management consultant at iJoin Consulting and an organizer for the Hope Organization. While working at iJoin Consulting, a social consulting firm, I developed strong research and analytical skills by producing evaluation reports based on Chinese social policies, such as dibao—a minimum living allowance in urban China.

As an organizer at the Hope Organization, I helped students receive admission to middle and high schools. Experiencing the insufficient education policy system inspired me to effectively organize, implement, and evaluate a development program. Social development for youth struck me as the perfect channel for my long-term aspiration to blend policies, sustainable development, and social good. This is what led me to the Heller School. I believe there will be a bigger impact on the lives of youth if more individuals get involved with youth development.

 After coming to Heller, I realized that youth development programs must begin at birth, so I have decided to focus on education effectiveness for early childhood development. I enjoy most of my academic classes, which have provided me with a solid understanding of my interest area. Last semester, I researched and organized a policy analysis project on two federal assistance programs for youth: the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This project helped me to understand how social policy is developed and how policies evolve over time. I also developed a logic model for the Lemberg Children’s Center in order to understand how one initiative can affect change and lead to long-term outcomes. This semester, I am designing and developing a project that explores how children initiative programs work at the local level.

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