News | METRANS Student Worker Namjoo Park Has a Passion for Policy Research

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by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

Policy research has always been a passion for Namjoo Park, who came to USC from her home country of Korea this year to study in the Price School’s Master of International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM) program. Park, who is from Busan, South Korea, attended Hanyang University in Seoul, where she took courses in the fields of economics, law, and philosophy in pursuit of a public policy degree. After spending her college years learning how policies are made in her home country, Park is now pursuing a graduate degree abroad to gain a global perspective on policy issues.


Through the program, Park hopes to find a concentration in policy analysis that she can focus on in future research. Before coming to Price, Park was always curious to learn more about what goes into sound policies and regulations. As a student at Hanyang University, Park worked with a professor to conduct legal research on regulations in her home country and later took a year off from classes to study the financial incentives that go into the policymaking process. After the program, she hopes to pursue a PhD or work for a think tank.


As a first-year student, one aspect of the IPPAM program that Park has come to appreciate early on is the chance to interact with classmates from around the world. “As an international student, I have an opportunity to meet people from other countries and learn from them,” says Park. “I want to improve Korean policies by comparing them with other countries. 


In addition to learning from her colleagues in her IPPAM program, Park also enjoys getting to know them through classes and program activities. “The IPPAM program is like a family,” she says. “We have a lot of events and everyone is so friendly and helpful.” Through these connections she has built in the program, Park has also had a chance to learn about other cultures. She finds that even though the majority of her classmates come from Asian countries, there are still differences between these nationalities which she has learned to recognize and respect.


Namjoo Park, International Public Policy and Management (IPPAM), USC Price


Another aspect of USC’s IPPAM program that Park has found beneficial is its focus on quantitative methods for policy analysis. “Policy is abstract,” says Park. “[At USC] I have studied practical tools to analyze what makes policies effective or not. As an example, Park points to a required statistics course she took this semester for first-year students in the IPPAM program. Park hopes to build a foundation in statistical analysis in the program so she can work with data in a policy context.


In addition to her studies at school, Park started working as an editor for the METRANS student newsletter this past semester. She enjoys the opportunities the job provides to develop strong communication skills and to work with a team in a professional environment. Park has also been able to grow in her knowledge of transportation issues by finding topics for the newsletter and keeping up-to-date on the consortium’s research and events, as she had little experience in the transportation field prior to her time at USC.


While she was applying for graduate programs, Park only had one school in mind for a reason that might resonate with many current and past Trojans. “My family lives in Los Angeles and I wanted to stay with them, so my only choices were UCLA or USC. Between the two, I liked [USC’s program] better,” she says. As a newcomer to Los Angeles, Park hopes to explore the city more during her time in the IPPAM program. As far as first impressions go, her new home is off to a good start. “I really love the people here,” says Park. “They are really kind and even strangers will say hello to you, which doesn’t happen in Korea.


About the Author:

William Graswich is a second-year MPP student at the Price School of Public Policy. He is interested in transportation and sustainability-related policy issues.