Conservative Student Voices at HKS

Conservative Student Voices at HKS


Above: Angelique Talmor MPP 2024 (left) and Sebastian Borda MPP 2024 (right)

As a school of public policy—where lively debates about approaches to solving the world’s most pressing public problems are encouraged—it’s important that a wide spectrum of political viewpoints are reflected in the student body.

So what is it like to be a conservative student at HKS?

Several right-leaning students share their experiences finding community and

offer advice for prospective students.


Sebastian Borda MPP 2024: Prior

to attending HKS, I spent two years in the U.S. Congress as a national security

policy staffer for Senator James Lankford. In 2020, I graduated from Duke

University, where I was active in the American Grand Strategy Program and the

Center for Christianity and Scholarship. These experiences taught me the

importance of integrating faith-based perspectives in U.S. foreign policy

decision-making, a passion I have continued to explore through the

Harvard Kennedy School


Center for Science and International Affairs. After graduation, I intend to advance America’s global leadership

through service in government.

Angelique Talmor MPP 2024: I hold a BA in Political

Science and French from the University of Florida and Master In International

Public Management from Sciences Po Paris. Prior to coming to HKS, I worked in government

and consulting. I am currently pursuing a concurrent MBA with MIT Sloan and plan to

pivot into Investment Banking after graduation. Long-term, I hope to be able to

work as a political appointee on economic or financial policy.

How would you describe

the community of Republican and/or conservative students at HKS?

Angelique Talmor: The centrist-to-right-leaning

community at HKS is small (join us and help it grow!); however, this has

resulted in me making some meaningful friendships that have helped me succeed

and grow. I’ve also found that the right-leaning alumni community is very

supportive and happy to connect.

Sebastian Borda: There

is a small but hearty group of conservative students at HKS, which has been a

source of encouragement to me. We are always eager to engage liberal

critiques and hold constructive debates with students across the

ideological spectrum.

What is your favorite

thing about being a student at HKS?

Angelique Talmor: Everyone here, regardless of

political affiliation, hopes to contribute to building a better world in some

way. This is a special alignment of motivations that you don’t find many

places. I’ve gained a tremendous amount from the opportunity to take classes

with some of the preeminent policy practitioners in their fields, such as Jason

Furman and Megan O'Sullivan. They enable you to gain a perspective and an

inside look into policy that you would not be able to obtain anywhere else.

Sebastian Borda: Being a student at HKS gives you

incredible access to world-renowned scholars, government officials, and leading

intellectuals. The Kennedy School is unique in its ability to facilitate and

deliver these opportunities on a regular basis. The rigor of the intellectual

environment also pushes me further in my thinking and has forced me to

reconsider my policy assumptions.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering applying to or

enrolling at HKS?

Angelique Talmor: HKS offers you access to incredible

resources (inside and outside the classroom), professors, and networks to

launch a high-level policy career. I’ve personally gotten opportunities that

I am not sure would have been open to me had I not been here. When considering

whether to come to Harvard or another institution, don’t neglect how much Harvard’s

resources and networks can help jumpstart your policy career.

Sebastian Borda: Be sure to chat with current

students and alumni prior to applying and have a clear sense of your objectives

in continuing your education. Graduate school is a major commitment that should

be chosen with introspection and deliberation. I encourage you to come to

Harvard with a commitment to use your experience in service to a greater cause.