The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Senior Profile: Yi Yang '14

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The Rockefeller Center encourages its outgoing seniors to reflect on their experiences at Dartmouth as part of a series called Rocky and Me. 


Photo by Thanh V. Nguyen

“As I prepare to enter the workforce (for real this time) post-graduation at Lake Partners, a management consulting firm, I look back at the opportunities at Dartmouth that have enabled me to go confidently into the world. Dartmouth is a special place, and the Rockefeller Center has done a lot in developing my independent mind that will serve me well in the future.” --Yi Yang '14

I came to Dartmouth knowing very little about what the next four years would bring. I expected college to be a continuation of high school, where dedicated classroom learning and ambitious goal setting led to predicted success. I was used to living on a formulaic path, so come freshman year, I was shocked at the freedom that Dartmouth had to offer.

Dartmouth is a spectacular place to learn—the least of which comes from within the classroom. With only 10 hours spent in lectures per week, I have the potential to develop my interests through substantial extra-curricular activities. Dartmouth’s ability to foster hands-on, self-directed learning is one of its greatest treasures. And the Rockefeller Center has significantly influenced my learning in this regard.

Now a senior, I have been involved with Rocky in many ways: from the Public Policy Minor to an independent research class, the Policy Research Shop, and the Management and Leadership Development Program. Every experience has directly contributed to my skill-development, which I will carry forward to my post-graduate work.

My interest in public policy began in high school in West Lafayette, Indiana, where I debated with the Policy and Public Forum teams. I took Professor Ron Shaiko’s Public Policy 5 course my freshman winter, and was amazed by the degree to which policy could affect change in the world. During the course, Professor Shaiko introduced us to the Public Policy Minor and the various Rocky programs. I was struck by the flexibility of the minor program—how I could design it for my liking, and the array of opportunities crafted to provide students with practical skills and professional development. PBPL 5 was one of the first Dartmouth experiences that challenged my traditional view of learning. Learning doesn’t have to come from books. In fact, the philosophy of learning by doing would profoundly shift I how approached Dartmouth.

The Public Policy Minor has since given me tremendous ownership over my work. Taking what I learned in Public Policy 45, a research methods class, I wrote my first federal grant to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering, a student-run organization that designs and implements sustainability technologies to improve the standard of living in developing countries. The grant was one of 18 approved out of over 400 entries, and the money has since enabled students to travel to Rwanda to install small-scale hydropower projects. In addition, after taking a policy seminar with Professor Hachadoorian, I decided to devote a term conducting an independent study on improving the policy response to post-Katrina affordable housing in New Orleans. I loved doing this project because I had the freedom to compose my own research agenda.

Beyond the minor, I have enjoyed working for the Policy Research Shop. Under the guidance of Professor Ben Cole, my teammates and I advised a regional non-profit on how to refine its organizational capacity to improve its effectiveness. We capped off our project with a presentation in Concord, NH to the entire staff of the organization. The skills in quantitative reasoning, presentation, and critical analysis that I’ve developed though the PRS have been instrumental to my success in real-world work settings.

Even for non-Rocky related activities, such as spending an off-term in Malawi conducting economic research as a Presidential Scholar with an economics professor, the fundamentals of leadership, self-guided research, independent problem framing and problem solving that I developed through my Rocky programs have been useful to my day-to-day work.

As I prepare to enter the workforce (for real this time) post-graduation at Lake Partners, a management consulting firm, I look back at the opportunities at Dartmouth that have enabled me to go confidently into the world. Dartmouth is a special place, and the Rockefeller Center has done a lot in developing my independent mind that will serve me well in the future.

Yi Yang ’14 is an Economics major and Public Policy Minor. Having grown up in China and lived in Malawi and Rwanda, Yi has a strong tie to developing economies and hopes to work in the policy realm to enable private sector growth in emerging markets. At Dartmouth, Yi has been involved with Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE), and founded its Development & Marketing, and Impact Analysis divisions. She has also been involved with the Pan Asian Community, most recently serving as the co-President of the Pan Asian Wellness Initiative (PAWI). Yi enjoys research and likes to work with Stata and GIS to investigate applied econometrics questions. She has interned at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, and currently works as a Research Assistant for Professor Dinkelman in the Economics Department. After graduation, Yi will work in management consulting at Lake Partners in Seattle. In the meantime, Yi enjoys hanging out with her sisters at EKT, cooking at the Sustainable Living Center, going to Hop shows, and being in the warm weather.

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences