News | METRANS Student Worker Agil Wibowo Pursuing Social Innovation at the Price School

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by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

Even before moving to Los Angeles to start his International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM) program at the USC Sol Price School, Agil Wibowo has always had a desire to tackle economic inequality in his home country of Indonesia. “In Jakarta [the Indonesian capital], the rich and poor both live in the same areas,” he says.


Wibowo grew up in the city of Binjai on Sumatra island and attended the Perbanas Institute to study banking and finance. After completing his university degree, Wibowo stayed in Jakarta, where he worked for the Indonesian Ministry of Finance to help develop its National Logistic Ecosystem (NLE), an IT-based system that supports the flow of goods and trade throughout the island nation. While working at his full-time job, Wibowo founded several community service organizations in Jakarta aimed at providing education services to children.


Agil Wibowo, International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM), USC Price


Through his community service programs, Wibowo sought to help children from marginalized communities in Jakarta. “I believe education can change people’s lives,” says Wibowo, noting Indonesia’s poor Gini ratio, an indicator of economic inequality. According to OCED, 19% of 25-34 year olds in Indonesia had a post-secondary level of educational attainment in 2021, compared to 47% on average across OCED countries.


After several years of working for his home government and running his educational service programs, Wibowo discovered that he had a strong interest in international development. He began applying to Master’s degree programs in International Development and eventually chose USC’s IPPAM program with a concentration in social innovation. According to Wibowo, who is now in the second year of his IPPAM program, his concentration focuses on solving public issues through innovations in policy, business, and social entrepreneurship. 


One significant factor in Wibowo’s decision to attend USC was the connection that some professors at the Price School had with his home country of Indonesia. One faculty member whom he recalls is former IPPAM director Joyce Mann, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Dr. Mann had previously worked with Indonesia's Ministry of Health to help implement healthcare policies. “She was very smart and knew a lot about Indonesia’s condition,” says Wibowo who had interacted with Dr. Mann during the first year of his IPPAM program.


In addition to studying topics in his area of interest and learning from faculty at the Price School, Wibowo has enjoyed meeting people in his cohort from around the world. “My class is very diverse,” says Wibowo. “We are from Asia, America, the Middle East, even Africa.” Wibowo often goes out on weekends with his classmates to explore different parts of Los Angeles together. One weekend routine they share is what Wibowo calls a “bar review.” “We visit different bars and restaurants every weekend and review which one was our favorite,” he explains.


Graphics that Wibowo has created for METRANS social media feeds


Wibowo joined METRANS in March 2022, during the spring semester of his first year in the IPPAM program. Through his IPPAM classmate Clark Hsu, the current student newsletter lead at METRANS, Wibowo connected with the consortium’s program administrator to fill a role as a lead in charge of the student website and social media team. Wibowo uploads content to the student website and METRANS’s social media feeds, including graphics that he creates using Adobe Illustrator and Canva. One part of his job at METRANS that he enjoys is the chance to experience working in the United States. Wibowo believes that his role at METRANS is more clearly defined than his job experiences in Indonesia, where he often had to fill a variety of roles that went beyond his formal title.


About the Author:

Jacob is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in urban policy and transportation planning issues. As a recent LA transplant, he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene in his free time.