After completing his Master of Public Affairs, Keo Lo joined the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families as a program and policy analyst.
Looking for ways to apply the survey design, research and data analysis skills he developed as an undergraduate, Keo Lo came to the La Follette School of Public Affairs.
"Although I gained valuable skills in the Department of Sociology's Concentration in Analysis and Research program," I was not sure how I was going to apply these skills to the real world," say Lo, who completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2011. "What I did know was that I am interested in making a positive impact on the world."
As an undergraduate, he took the public affairs course Advanced Quantitative Methods for Public Policy. "I was impressed with the course because it provided students with skills used in the professional and real world," Lo says. "I learned how to design and analyze experiments aimed at measuring policy effectiveness and the use of non-experimental data to evaluate policy effectiveness. From that experience, I knew the La Follette School would provide me the necessary analytical skills for me to be successful."
The quality of the teaching in that first public affairs course has carried over into Lo's other classes. "The professors are exceptional," he says. "The skills students learn will help them be successful in the future, no matter what field they end up in. The quantitative skills, public management, program evaluation, etc., all will be useful in the job market."
Lo found the public management course very interesting. The instructor, former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz, assigned each student to a mentor. "We were given weekly prompts on how to handle real public agency situations as a public manager," Lo says. "With Madison Metro manager Charles Kemp, I would discuss the topic and we would both share our thoughts on handling the situation. From the real situation prompts, Charles' mentorship and mayor Dave's expertise, I gained insight on situations a real public manager must handle."
The school's small size allows for students not only to get to know their professors but also their peers, Lo notes "The program's small size is especially helpful since we have many group projects: working together is easier since everyone knows each other."
The small classes allow for flexibility, Lo adds. "Professors can be more flexible in the way they teach, as they can pick up or slow down the pace, depending on the students. If students are struggling, the teachers can spend more time covering the material so everyone understands. Hence, professors and students work in cohesion."
This fall, Lo will be a project assistant with health economist Jason Fletcher. This summer, after his first year at La Follette, Lo is developing his "soft" skills as an intern with the university's Office of Admissions and Recruitment. "One of my main responsibilities is to give recruitment presentations to up to 300 prospective students at a time," says Lo, who received a fellowship for his first year in the Master of Public Affairs degree program. "Because of the presentations I have had to give as part of my La Follette course work, speaking before a group has become second nature."