Meet a Fordie: Priyanka Panjwani (MPP ’22)


It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s time for another installment of our “Meet a Fordie” series! This time around, we’re introducing Priyanka Panjwani, a first-year MPP student here at the Ford School.

Where are you from?

I grew up about 20 minutes outside of Chicago, in the Western suburbs. I’ve been in the Midwest my whole life: I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!), and then lived on the North Side of Chicago for 2.5 years post-undergrad.

What were you doing before you came to Ford?

I was an Economics Research Analyst at Northwestern University, where I worked mostly in Stata and R conducting econometric analyses for professors at NU, working on literature reviews, and assisting with papers/presentations. I worked on a wide range of topics, from the economic history of immigration in the U.S., to the effects of marijuana legalization on recidivism rates. After developing my research skills, I was eager to apply them to policy areas I care about, which is why I pursued policy programs.

Why did you choose Ford?

I felt that Ford complemented my interests really well, being the top Social Policy program in the country. I am specifically interested in the social determinants of health, public assistance programs, and food policy. Professors such as Paula Lantz and Luke Schaefer are amazing resources to have in my area of interest. Additionally. I was impressed by the amount of research centers housed at Ford: Poverty Solutions, the Youth Policy Lab, the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. I’ve taken advantage of these opportunities, and last semester worked as an RA for YPL and CLOSUP. Finally, I am interested in applying data analytics to policy solutions, and Michigan offers a graduate certificate in data science, for which I have been taking Python courses in the School of Information.

What do you want to do with your Ford degree?

Right now I’m not completely sure which sector I want to work in after graduating. I hope to use the summer internship to explore the public sector, through state or local government. What I am certain about is that I want to apply data analytics to evaluate solutions to health disparities and promote health as a human right.

Stay tuned for more spotlights of our incredible students here at Ford!