When I started classes in August, I had two choices. The first choice was to float through my two-year program and simply get my degree…however I chose to enhance my education at the Voinovich School by doing the following:
1. Getting to know my cohort… Getting to know my cohort has enriched my experience at the Voinovich School because the MPA program attracts all different types of people, who are looking to pursue a variety of careers. We all have had different experiences to draw from and challenge one another’s points of view during classes. We get together each week to compare homework answers, meet between classes to discuss readings, compare notes on what elective classes we’re taking and edit one another’s papers. Outside of the classroom we relax together at yoga, attend lectures and meet up for happy hour. Because there is no one on campus who better understands what it’s like to be the MPA program I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive and distinct group of people.
2. Visiting my professors… We had not even finished our first week of classes the first time I met with my advisor, Dr. Millesen, and by the time we were finished with that meeting I had an internship opportunity with the Foundation of Appalachian Ohio, knew what classes I needed to take in order to focus my education in nonprofits and I had the name of two additional contacts to reach out to in order to pursue my interest in women and gender studies. While my success in the MPA program sits squarely on my shoulders, my professors have shown interest in my future plans and want to help me achieve my goals.
3. Getting involved on campus… It is easy to start feeling a little quarantined having every class up at The Ridges. While the quiet and calmness of the Voinovich School is the perfect environment to hunker down and get some serious work done, the time I have spent volunteering with the Women’s Center has been an incredible way to meet new people, helped set the tone for my research project and has given me invaluable practical experience working with a community-based nonprofit organization. Through connections I’ve made at the Women’s Center I have been given the opportunity to train as a Safe Zone Facilitator in November and apply become a mentor for an undergraduate woman who shares my interests career aspirations. My involvement on campus has allowed me to turn theory from class into practice in the field.
One of the hardest things in the world, for me, is to describe myself. It is often something I struggle with in interviews. I was originally born in Los Angeles, California, but after a few events ended up in the Akron, Ohio area where I grew up. When the time came to pursue higher education, I fell in love with Ohio University due to its distance away from my parents for my own independence, its natural beauty, and its laid back atmosphere that fits my own. I finished my undergrad in three years from Ohio University earning a degree in Political Science and during this time quickly became a political enthusiast which led to my involvement with many local campaigns in the area. If you ask anyone that knows me personally, they will tell you I am always willing and love to discuss politics and policy theory.
As my undergrad came to a close, I opted to go to graduate school to study the other side of politics, non-profit and policy; instead of furthering my knowledge of the side I have become familiar with, campaigns, and instead of attending law-school which was my original plan. I can safely say, I have made the right decision and been able to flourish under the Voinovich’s schools philosophy of applied
learning. I am currently the Graduate Assistant for the Appalachian Rural Health Institute, where I am able to pursue my new interest of rural health services and health policy. In my free time I enjoy being outside, playing sports which I am an active golfer, and believing in Cleveland sports teams.
I can’t believe it’s already the third week of spring quarter. I feel like most of my blogs have begun with my astonishment at how quickly the program has passed, but it’s hard to ignore something as omnipresent as time. I feel like I’m constantly reminded of how compressed the MPA experience is – not that it’s any fault of the MPA program. On the contrary, it’s amazing to think back to the classes and
applied learning experiences I’ve had in only two quarters at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. I already feel much more prepared to have a career than I did after graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. Even just gaining a better understanding and appreciation of how much the public and private sectors are intertwined is important information that I would have been disadvantaged not
knowing at the start of a career.
All the opportunities I’ve had so far with the Regional Nonprofit Alliance, Raccoon Creek Partnership, and now with Rural Action have been invaluable in providing an applied understanding about the relationship that each sector has with the other and the roles they play in providing goods and services to the country’s communities and to the country as a whole. When job hunting, those experiences will mean just as much or more as the classes I’ve taken.
This all-around education is what makes OU’s MPA program so unique. This quarter I’m taking Organizational Theory and Politics and Financial Management and will be aiding Rural Action in its marketing efforts and with the publication of its e-newsletter, the Rural Rambler. It appears that this summer I’ll even be able to earn credit toward the MPA degree in Ghana with the African Culture
through the Arts program. The willingness of the Voinovich School’s faculty to accommodate the interests of its students is also what makes this experience so unique. But for now, I look forward to another quarter and to the exciting challenges it will surely bring.
After re-reading my blog post from last week, I realized that I sound like I have one foot out the door this quarter—which is kind of true, but I wanted to provide some clarification on my thoughts and feelings this week.
Getting your Master’s degree is tough—there’s no denying it. I’ve worked incredibly hard over the past year and a half at the Voinovich School, trying to put my best work forward and seize all of the opportunities that have been made available through the school. School work was always my first priority, and has been for the past 19 years.
I’m now moving into a stage of life where I hope to use everything I’ve gained through my schooling and apply it to the real world. This is so bizarre to me, since I know of nothing but school (aside from practicum, GA and internship experience—which is great, but was all done in a very safe environment). The real world is going to be different. There’s no safety net after June.
This is why I’m feeling antsy—I feel not only incredibly prepared for a “big girl” job because of the experience I’ve gained throughout the past couple of years, but also ready. I’ve spent 19 years focusing on school, so I’m ready to focus on life.
So, this quarter, be prepared for some possibly frustrated and antsy posts because I’m about to move onto another part of my life which is exciting and unnerving. I have a lot to accomplish outside of school work (i.e. job hunting, traveling to and from DC, finding apartments, closing out my work with the school, etc) that I haven’t had to deal with much before. If I don’t seem as focused this quarter, this is why!
In other news, I’m settling into classes well—Policy should be interesting because we are studying a project at the school that I was involved in loosely, and Fundraising will be a useful skill to me later in nonprofit work, so I’m looking forward to learning more about that. I’m still working on the semi- annual report for REAP, as well as a couple other small projects, so nothing new and exciting on that front.
Happy Week 2 everyone!