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Deqa Aden

Pearson Fellow Alum


Deqa Aden, MPP '23, is a recent Harris School of Public Policy graduate who has a deep passion for international development, focusing on conflict-affected states. Her research interests include the psychological and political barriers that prevent fragile states from thriving, private sector financing, social enterprise, and equitable growth.

After interning with the Busara Center in Kenya summer of 2022, Deqa Aden, along with co-authors Mareike Schomerus and Stanley Ngugi, contributed a chapter to the book Behavioral Science for Development: Insights and Strategies for Global Impact

Before her time at the University of Chicago, Aden was a manager at Harhub, an organization in Somalia focused on investments in youth and women-led enterprises. Previously, she worked as a research analyst with the World Bank on a project in Tajikistan – a $30 million investment that aimed to mitigate extremism and violence through private sector financing. She was also a research assistant on a World Bank project in Pakistan – a piloted cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention for entrepreneurs in fragile states in Pakistan that endure daily stress that negatively impacts their business performances at the individual level as well as at the firm level. Aden also completed an internship with Heartland Alliance International, where she supported the Director of Program Development on multiple humanitarian projects in Africa and served as an advisor to the Somaliland Embassy in the United States. 

Aden holds a BA in political science and psychology from Grinnell College. Her senior thesis investigated the psychological – such as lower levels of perceived self-efficacy and health benefits – barriers that prevent lower socioeconomic individuals from engaging in healthy behaviors.

Baidoa, Somalia

Makeshift, temporary shelter made of plastic and clothing at a refugee center in Baidoa, Somalia.