Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, January 26, 2015

Nong applies math skills to public affairs, policy analysis

Xin Nong Xin Nong

Xin Nong has wide-ranging interests that he is now exploring through the La Follette School's international public affairs program.

"As an undergraduate at Peking University, I studied a lot of history, philosophy and political thought," Nong says. "Those fields gave me a good foundation for my major in international political economics."

Nong also has been very interested in mathematics. "While philosophy pushes me to explore uncertainty, maths provides me with stability and unity," Nong says. As a high school student, he won the first prize of the Chinese Mathematic Olympiad, and to build up a solid foundation on quantitative skills, Nong took calculus, linear algebra and statistics in college.

To further his studies in quantitative analysis, Nong chose the Master of International Public Affairs degree program at the La Follette School. "The program is highly ranked, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison has good academic reputation," Nong says.

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The offer of a scholarship made possible by donations to the Doris J. Hanson and the Alumni-Friends scholarship funds also helped Nong decide to attend the La Follette School. "I am grateful for the scholarships, which are softening my economic burden and have inspired me to study harder," he says.

Nong graduated from Peking University in 2014. He spent the 2012-13 school year at Waseda University in Japan, during a time when Chinese nationalism culminated into violent anti-Japanese demonstrations. "Although my mother was worried about my safety in Japan, I found the Japanese very friendly," Nong says. "Whenever I had time, I hit the road, traveling around the country and made friends with the Japanese."

In Wisconsin, Nong is enjoying the opportunity to pursue his varied interests in the context of public policy. "The flexible curriculum offer me better opportunities to communicate with faculty from La Follette, and the Political Science and Economics departments," Nong says. "The La Follette School's faculty are very helpful, and the small size of the program give me more chances to talk to professors and get to know my classmates."

The first-year student plans to focus his studies on international economics, international development and program evaluation. He anticipates becoming an analyst for an international organization like the United Nations, which is why he wants to acquire skills in quantitative analysis. "Ultimately, I hope to help make the world better" he says.