Name: Anna Maier
Policy Area of Concentration: Education
GSPP Graduation Year: 2015
Undergraduate School(s): Carleton College, New College of California
Personal History: I’m a West Coaster through and through. I grew up in Seattle, and after a brief interlude in the Midwest where I attended college, I moved to Oakland and have been here ever since. I love the Bay Area, and intend to stay here after graduation.
What attracted you to GSPP? As I immersed myself in the world of public education, I became increasingly frustrated by policies that were often ineffective and at times damaging to the children and families I worked with. I found myself drawn to the prospect of advocating for change at a systemic level, and was delighted to discover that the top public policy school in the country was right in my backyard. Although the stellar reputation drew me to GSPP, it was the people that really sealed the deal. Through visits and email exchanges, I was consistently impressed by the welcoming and collaborative atmosphere, paired with a top notch academic experience.
How did you prepare for the GSPP application and admissions process? In addition to reaching out to the admissions office for help scheduling a visit and conversations with current students, I found a lot of helpful information on the GSPP website. I read through the current courses on offer, and looked through faculty bios. I recommend reaching out to faculty members who engage in research of interest to you—it’s a great way to learn more about the program.
What have you enjoyed most during your time at GSPP? My cohort of fellow students is amazing, and I know that many of them will be both impressive colleagues and lifelong friends. I also love the interdisciplinary nature of the program. I was able to explore many topics of interest within GSPP, and also enroll in classes offered by other graduate programs with ease. The depth of resources on the UC Berkeley campus is incredible.
What was your professional background before GSPP and what do you look to do with your degree upon graduation? After graduating from college in Minnesota, I moved to Oakland to participate in AmeriCorps. I spent a year running an afterschool program at a local elementary school, and fell in love with both education and California. I returned to school in San Francisco to earn a teaching credential, and went on to teach second and third grade in Oakland for four years. After leaving the classroom, I worked as a research and evaluation associate at a local youth sports nonprofit before coming to GSPP. After graduation, I hope to initially work with a local school district, and then move on to an advocacy role in the nonprofit sector.
What is your favorite thing about being a student in the Bay Area? I love the sunshine, natural beauty and amazing food. Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco are right next to each other, but each has a unique character. It’s fun to access to such a variety of people and events.
In your view, what type of person will benefit from a GSPP education? GSPP’ers want to change the world for the better. If you share those ideals, and want a strong grounding in analytic and quantitative skills, you will fit right in.
What has been your favorite class? I’m just starting my second year, but thus far my favorite class was Kids First Policy with David Kirp. There were students from a variety of different graduate programs in the class, so we had lively discussions. We also had amazing speakers almost every week. It’s hard to pick just one favorite though!
Who is your favorite faculty member? Again, it’s hard to pick one favorite because there are many amazing faculty members here. I really enjoyed taking the core economics sequence from Steve Raphael—he is an amazing teacher, a stellar researcher, and a very nice person. I had never taken a single econ class before coming to GSPP, and Steve helped me discover a love for the discipline.
What is your best memory from GSPP? All the time spent laughing and working with my fellow students in the living room. I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable when I first entered that space on a tour, but now it feels like home.