USC Price School of Public Policy

Price Student Q&A: Taara Prasad

Hometown: Los Altos, CA
Major: B.S. Policy, Planning, and Development (Public Policy and Law Concentration), Political Science Minor (American Politics Concentration), Forensics and Criminality Minor

Q. What inspired you to choose your major (and track)?

A. I was very involved in philanthropy work in high school and while I was doing this work, I developed this conviction that the government was highly involved in the way that these non-profits received funding and administered services – both of which contribute to the cyclical problem of homelessness. Upon entering college, I had no idea what public policy was or what it entailed; but from the start, I had an appreciation for the hands-on, pragmatic approach that Price applied to the discussion of social justice.

I ended up in my track because I had always wanted to go to law school. I ended up staying in the track because I took an upper division class in the track as a freshman that confirmed my passion for Public Policy and Law.

Q. Give us a summary of your thesis project. Who is your faculty advisor? What inspired you to study this area further?

A. I am currently using medical expenditure data to understand how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has affected the prescription and consumption behavior of contraception. I am trying to understand how the cost of contraception has changed to insurers, if there is a general trend towards or away from brand name contraception versus generics, and if more women have received contraception since the no co-pay mandate was implemented under the ACA.

My faculty advisor is Dr. Erin Trish. I have always been passionate about women’s health and it was an area of policy I had little experience with before starting my thesis. I had been reading the news articles and literature about the “no co-pay” mandate since it was implemented and have witnessed its effects, while on a college campus. I was debating between pursuing a thesis trying to understand the efficacy of certain counterterrorism policies and investigating a piece of the Affordable Care Act, which are clearly vastly different from one another. I eventually ended up choosing the latter because I thought there was less published research that had been done about the no co-pay mandate because it is so new.

Q. What skills have you developed while doing this thesis?

A. When I began this process, my hope was to develop my statistical analysis knowledge as well as my ability to express these findings in writing. This project has enabled me to expand my knowledge of STATA, the software I am using to run the statistical analysis necessary to analyze the data I’m working with. I had taken a Political Analysis class a while back along with statistics classes that had given me a brief overview of STATA, but I have learned significantly more about it since I started this analysis. This has made the project both challenging and incredibly rewarding.

Q. What do you hope to do with the information you find?

A. I hope to have it published in a women’s health journal to inform the public about the lesser discussed effects of this act.

Q. What are your future career plans?

A. I am hoping to pursue my Master’s in Public Health and my J.D. to eventually become a law professor.

Q. What is the best advice anyone has given to you regarding your education?

A. The best advice I ever received about my education was probably the simplest, yet the most difficult task to master: Learn to think critically. There is an unbelievable amount of information that will be thrown at you over the course of your education – from mathematical formulas to ancient philosophical perspectives. While a small percentage of this may be ultimately relevant in your career, you will likely forget most of it by the time you complete that class. But the reason you took many of those classes was not to memorize every single fact. It was to learn how to critically think in a different way, from a different perspective. Every class you take can teach you how to think in a unique way, even if you do not appreciate the content of the class itself. Don’t take that for granted. You only have a limited amount of time to sit in a classroom where your only goal is to learn and to think. Appreciate this time and question the information that is being tossed at you-it will help you in any study or career you pursue.