During Women’s History Month, we interviewed a few alumnae to discover their experiences at the McCormack Graduate School and where they are now.
Brandynn Holgate completed her PhD in Public Policy at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies in 2014 and currently works as a research associate at McCormack’s Center for Social Policy. She has experience in applied policy research relevant to employment services, economic and workforce development, and anti-poverty programs.
Her dissertation, titled “Economic Development in the Massachusetts Life Sciences Cluster: Shared Prosperity or a Big Tradeoff?,” examined the intensifying growth and concentration of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts and its impacts on workers.
As part of our Twitter campaign #McCormackWomenOnTheMove celebrating Women’s History Month, Holgate sat down with us for a short interview.
Ngan Nguyen, McCormack Graduate School: Tell me a little about your background.
Brandynn Holgate: I'm originally from California and I did my undergrad studies there at the University of California, Davis. I moved here for my MBA in Human Resources (at UMass Boston’s College of Management) and then went right in to the PhD program.
It took me 12 years to get my PhD degree, so I guess I consider that my biggest achievement.
During my time in the public policy program, I held a research assistantship at the Center for Social Policy. I liked it so much that I decided to stay with them. The relationship I have with the faculty and the graduate students in the program as well as the relationship I have with my coworkers at the Center for Social Policy are very important to me, particularly the connection I have built with our Research Director Françoise Carré with whom I have worked the entire time and is like a mentor to me. I guess I can say that it's really all about the people that you meet here.
NN: How well did your PhD program prepare you for your career?
BH: My applied policy work experience as a doctoral student is parallel to my experience working at the Center for Social Policy as a research associate—it's my work experience that has helped build my professional career. Besides working here at the Center for Social Policy, I have been teaching at Lesley University and consulting at the Metro North Regional Employment Board on their health care partnership.
NN: How would you describe your overall experience at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies?
BH: When I first came here, it wasn't a school (yet). It was just a public policy program and the McCormack Institute was separate from that. I was here when they formed the school (in 2003) and hired the first dean, so I have seen a fair amount of positive changes in terms of … where the school is headed.
I would recommend the PhD program –especially when one finds the right professor who shares your research interests. As an alumna, I really value my experience here with respect to the supportive faculty as well as my surrounding cohort of students.