Balkissa graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Her studies focused on poverty alleviation, particularly asset development and workforce development. She wrote her capstone project on the Integration of High Skilled International Students in Massachusetts Labor Force. Balkissa was a research assistant at Brandeis University where she worked on asset development programs and policies for low-income populations and families with children with disabilities. She also interned as a research intern with Oxfam America US Regional Office, and worked for the City of Boston as a Workforce Development Research and Policy Analyst. Balkissa hold a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.