Alumni Feature: Fredericka Lucas
Fredericka Lucas, a 2020 graduate of Policy Pathways’ inaugural session of the Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online (SAO), found a passion for policy and is seeing it through. She is entering her final semester at Harvard as the first African American elected as Director of the prestigious Harvard College Consulting Group (HCCG). Fredericka has a senior thesis in the works and a full-time job awaiting her in the fall. Policy and related matters have favorably directed the past four years of Fredericka’s life.
Through several experiences since high school, Fredericka took a liking to health care policy. The first was an internship the summer before college with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. She was looking into opioid use among prisoners as a risk factor for brain injury and mental health concerns. The team, she said, “tried to come up with policy interventions to stop substance abuse pipelines for key populations that are at high risk for brain injury as a result of opioid use. [The internship] was related to policy, so I kind of had that initial interest, but Policy Pathways really allowed me to take a more in-depth look into the policy, which further sparked a desire to continue learning about it.”
Fredericka, pursuing a neuroscience major and economics minor, next applied to Harvard College Consulting Group (HCCG) in the fall of her sophomore year without much knowledge of consulting at all. “Consulting is a popular career path at Harvard,” she said, so she gave it a try. Once she recognized the applicability of both her medical and economic backgrounds to the work of the club, she realized she had found the perfect organization through which to pursue her career and leadership development aspirations.
By means of HCCG, she was able to work on three different health care cases with pharmaceutical and biotech companies. “That experience made clear to me that I liked consulting a lot. I thought it was really interesting to be able to get an inside look at the way that pharma and biotech work and that solidified for me that consulting is a profession that I want to do in the longer term.”
This last term at Harvard marks Fredericka’s sixth semester with HCCG, which culminated in her election and elevation to Director. In HCCG, seniority matters. She worked on cases her first three semesters and rose to Associate Director of External Initiatives for one term before serving as Vice Director of Operations. The 14-member board of executives is up for election every semester and is in charge of six-person case teams working with 18 clients.
As Director, Fredericka’s goals center around overall member experience and improving efficiency of operations. Her priorities include “increasing training and collaboration, centering culture, bonding, and knowledge sharing, and a continued focus on improving diversity retention, experience, and recruitment.”
Last summer, Fredericka interned at Bain & Company, one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world. Assigned to the Washington, D.C. office, she worked with a health insurance company on a merger acquisition case, which, as you would expect, was very intriguing. “It was really cool to be able to sit in on the client’s meetings and see our recommendations come to life and the materials we put together be implemented by the clients. I definitely got to see the impact while I was there.”
Fredericka so impressed her team and Bain & Co, she was offered a full-time position after graduation as an Associate Consultant! “Policy Pathways really showed me the importance of policy and the impact it has on organizations and communities and, on a larger scale, our country and other nations. I’m really excited to continue learning more about policy and get more involved, especially moving to D.C. after college.”
Fredericka certainly has much to keep her occupied in the meantime. She was on the Harvard varsity track team her first three years in college and is now in the throes of thesis research. Since last spring, she has been working in a lab, focusing on early life stress in mice and how it affects their behavior and brain structures. By subjecting the mice to stress in the first nine days of life and testing sociability and reward learning on days 30 or 100, she will be able to identify differences in developmental stages in relation to a critical period that closes around day 60 and into maturity.
“The thought,” she said, “is that the early-life stress paradigm can be compared to when humans are abused or neglected as children: if you experienced abandonment or serious trauma as a child, or if you didn’t have access to adequate support systems, such as affection, shelter, safety, and nutrition. Early-life stress can alter brain development and serve as a predictor of behavioral abnormalities and disorders later in life for humans. Through my studies, I look for the policy implications of my research and connection to policy initiatives too: How can we best help babies and children who have suffered abuse, neglect, and abandonment?”
Fredericka recognizes a number of places in her life in which she has applied what she learned in Policy Pathways’ Summer Academy. Her experience lends an analytic hand in her coursework, first, especially in health policy and psychopharmacology, where she deliberated the implications of different policies for drugs and mental illness. HCCG is also at the front of her mind and how they can tie policy into their mission.
Fredericka has undoubtedly found her calling in healthcare consulting, a happening we are joyous to report. “My life experiences have honed my thinking about the future,” Fredericka shared. “I am more impact-oriented. How can what I do positively impact the lives of others? For the future jobs and career paths that I am considering, it’s important for me to be able to see the direct impact of my work in organizations and communities. Policy Pathways definitely played a role in catalyzing that desire.”