Skye Horbrook, MSSP+DA’22
From majoring in computer science at a historically Black university to volunteering on the front lines of disaster relief and digital equity efforts, Skye Horbrook has built a path focused on using technology and data to create social change.
As a master’s student and Social Justice Scholar at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), Horbrook contributed research to the national conversation about the significance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Horbrook entered SP2 and the MSSP+DA Program as a member of the inaugural cohort of Social Justice Scholars, a competitive full-tuition scholarship program with the aim of enhancing the School’s ongoing commitment to the recruitment and retention of students with a particular interest in and demonstrated capacity for social justice leadership in their field.
For Horbrook, an important step forward in her pursuit of social impact was an independent project that she pursued as part of a year-long course sequence in The Data for Equitable Justice Lab at SP2. Horbrook chose to explore HBCUs’ access to research funding, a topic that came to her attention as a student at Bowie State.
Other highlights of her studies include SP2 courses on data visualization, democratizing data, and machine learning, as well as electives in city planning and education offered by other Penn schools. She also enjoyed opportunities offered through the Social Justice Scholars Program, such as monthly speaker seminars and support to attend the conferences of SXSW EDU, Code for America, the American Planning Association, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management.
Continuing her pursuit of social impact, Horbrook recently served as an intern with SP2’s Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, an organization that helps state and local governments collaborate and responsibly use data to improve lives.
“SP2 appealed to me as an institution that is invested in developing students that would be pillars of change in their communities. The MSSP+DA program stood out to me as an opportunity to grow as a public interest technologist. The curriculum focuses on policy analysis, research, and evaluation skills through data processing techniques, which I value considerably. I aspire to bridge policy and data together and this program [was] a great fit for me as I [sought to] advance in my career.”