By: L Volpe
I am excited to be welcoming the newest class of MPA students to the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs! I can tell you from personal experience that you are all in for a challenging and wonderful ride over the next two years. Hindsight is 20/20, so I am going to share some of my biggest lessons and hope that you can benefit from my newfound perfect vision from my first year in the MPA program.
Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. The Voinovich School will be sending communications asking for interested parties to participate in projects. Take advantage of any project that may interest you. I did not realize how important these opportunities were until I applied for an internship over winter break. The environmental scan I performed with Ohio Campus Compact was a wonderful learning opportunity, and I grew so much professionally and personally during the process. You will be pleasantly surprised how much taking on extracurricular projects will enhance your time inside and outside of classes.
Get involved on campus. If you want to make the most of your experience at Ohio University, find something you are passionate about and become a contributing member of our Bobcat family! Last year, most of my projects were based up here at the Voinovich School. This was not a bad thing by any means, but I began to feel alienated from the rest of the campus. My second year is completely different. I am the graduate assistant for the Women’s Center, and also was elected the vice president of Committees and Legislative Affairs for Graduate Student Senate, both of which are located in the Baker University Center. Being on campus has allowed me to meet and work with a wider selection of graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty. Additionally, I am able to apply the lessons I have been learning here at The Ridges to my new leadership roles. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the theory you are learning in class come into practice in the field.
Finally, embrace your cohort. The success of my first year had a lot to do with my classmates. We are a dynamic group of people who are not afraid to voice our opinions and challenge one another’s point of view. We did not always get along, but in order to grow you have to understand the thought processes and viewpoints of others. The most important thing is to always remember to respect one another by embracing each person’s unique qualities. Find a way to relate to one another. Your experience will be greatly enriched if you do.
I wish you the best of luck with your first semester in this program. I know that you will all be successful and look forward to meeting everyone throughout the year!