"I am interested in exploring how elected officials represent the interests of groups historically underrepresented in politics."

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Makda Habtegergesa

January 02, 2024

Master of Public Policy student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

My parents immigrated to Canada from Eritrea in the 90s due to war and extreme poverty. Like many other families, they came to Canada in pursuit of a better life and better opportunities. My parents did not have the opportunity to go to school; this instilled in me a profound appreciation for education and the incredible power and liberation it holds. As for my research, my own identity as a Black woman led me to question whether I was adequately represented in policy discussions that impact me and people like me.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My research is interested in understanding how politics shapes public policy. More specifically, I am interested in exploring how elected officials represent the interests of groups historically underrepresented in politics. By better understanding how political actors represent the interests of the electorate - and the spaces they choose to do so - we can better understand what facilitates more enhanced political representation, and thus, better policymaking and outcomes.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

intersectionality, representation, equity

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

I first became interested in research during my undergraduate degree, where I studied political science at the University of Calgary. I took several courses on politics and public policy, comparative public policy, gender and politics, and gender and public policy. What truly enriched my academic experience was the privilege of meeting dedicated professors who went beyond the classroom, offering invaluable support and mentorship. Their commitment played a pivotal role in shaping my academic journey and solidifying my interest in research.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

SSHRC CGS-M. To be awarded a SSHRC (CGS-M) is a great honour. The SSHRC CGS-M has not only provided crucial financial support but has also served as a validation of the merit and potential of my research endeavours. This recognition has empowered me to delve deeper into my academic interests, offering the means to access resources, attend conferences, and collaborate with experts in the field.


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