Help me save the gators!

Help me save the gators!

In June 2014, I will be traveling to the Everglades national park with some of my amazing UConn MPA classmates. Once we’re in Florida, we’ll be participating in environmental stewardship activities, like trail clearing and invasive species removal. Our work in the Everglades will help keep the park in good condition. As a public policy student, this is a great opportunity to see environmental policy in practice!

The catch? Since we started organizing this event at the beginning of the year, each of us needs to raise money to cover costs for the  trip. As a graduate student, my funds are limited.  Since my time at Holy Cross, I’ve always wanted to go on a service trip, but never had the funds or the courage. This may be my last opportunity to go on one.

Everything I raise will go directly towards airfare, food, gas, housing, and other costs associated with the trip.  Once I reach my fundraising goal, I will close the donation page.

Thank you so much for your help! The alligators will appreciate it!

back in the saddle

I am so not ready for spring semester. Of course, spring semester started on Tuesday (well, with the snow day it started on Wednesday).

I’m gearing up for a crazy month at work next month, with 1 open house, 1 faculty candidate visit, and 2 speaker series presentations. One of the presentations is from a UConn MPA alum who helped out in Newtown after Sandy Hook. I’m pumped about that, but all those events mean that I’ll be running around like a madwoman coordinating logistics, etc.

I also got to write the annual appeal letter for the department! I’ve always wanted to dabble in development, so I was super excited to actually write it myself.  Those one page requests for donations seem pretty short and straightforward. Well, I was wrong. After several weeks, revisions, and input from multiple colleagues and faculty members, that damn thing is finally done. Now I really respect what fundraising professionals do. It ain’t easy, yo. I get to stuff envelopes all week, but hopefully all the hard work will be worth it and we’ll rake in some serious cash!

Because of snow I only had two classes last week-Financial Management for Public Organizations and Policy Analysis.  I can tell I’m going to love Policy Analysis–it’s with one of my favorite professors, and the material is super interesting. Basically, we’ll get to learn how to analyze and propose solutions to public problems using economics and other frameworks. Financial Management has promise–the course is about managing money for public and nonprofit organizations (as the title probably told you). I’m not naturally inclined towards finance, but I know these skills will be useful once I leave UConn and embark on my career. Plus, I’ll get to listen to another semester of my professor’s deadpan jokes.

Clearly I’m only writing to procrastinate from my two problem sets already due this week.

Oh, how was winter break you ask? Let’s just say two words: Netflix (watched 5 seasons of Parks and Rec, rewatched 3.5 of Supernatural, and also something else I forgot) and Boston (Fabulous New Year’s with three of my favorite people in the world. Also bubble tea.). Also work.  But that goes without saying.

Maybe I should just plan my trip to Baltimore….

First semester of grad school in the books!

One debate, one hour long presentation, two finals, and several papers later, I am done with my first semester of graduate school! I’m also eagerly awaiting my grades. All I have to do is work over winter break per graduate assistant requirements. Not too bad of a deal!

Let me just say that finishing out this semester was very empowering. I wasn’t very confident at all in my quant skills, but I managed to get through the semester feeling really good about my progress there.  Holy Cross definitely prepared me for grad school, so while I had to re-familiarize myself with math, the workload wasn’t really too different from what I would’ve had in an HC class. Actually, I think I had more assignments in some of my HC classes!

So there’s a lot of new stuff going on with me.  I was selected as a first year student representative on the Admissions Committee and  ran unnopposed for elected Public Relations officer for the Graduate Association of Public Policy Students (fondly known to MPAers as GAPPS!). I’ll be a little busier come next semester, but it’ll be for the better.

I’m all enrolled for next semester too!

  • Applied Research Design
  • Policy Analysis
  • Human Resource Management
  • Financial Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations

Work work

Grad school is a lot of work, yo. The new Britney is basically my theme song for the weekend.

The past month has been super busy for me with M&Ms: midterms (econ two weeks ago, stats tonight, finance on Monday) and memos. Memos are my program’s equivalent of papers–they’re basically aimed at teaching us how to write professionally. Let me just say that I miss academic writing sometimes!

I’ve been doing well in most of my classes grades-wise, and I feel confident about the exam I took tonight.  Let’s hope this trend keeps up for my finance midterm!

My grad assistantship also keeps me busy. I help coordinate events, like open houses and speaker series.  I’m also helping out with the MPA 40th Anniversary Gala and the search for a new faculty member.  I’m only there 15 hours a week, but I feel like I cram 40 hours of work into that 15 hours.

Finally, I made some life decisions this week! I decided to apply for a certificate in public finance and budgeting. I came in to the MPA program thinking of focusing in nonprofit management, but over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that my employment outcomes will probably be better if I do public finance. UConn has the number 7 ranked public finance program in the country (in terms of MPA programs), and the public finance grads tend to do better job wise.

Even if I take this path, I can still work in the nonprofit world or in government, and I can still help people.  I’ll just be more marketable.  And I can always do the grad certificate in nonprofit management after I finish my MPA if I decide it’s something I need.

 

 

Grad school!

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I am officially done with week 2 of graduate school! I basically dove right in last week and have been going nonstop ever since.

For those of you who haven’t talked to me lately, I’m pursuing my Masters in Public Administration (MPA), which is like a hybrid of an MBA and a Master’s in Public Policy. Basically, I’m learning skills that will help me pursue a career in the public sector, whether in government or in nonprofits.

So why did I choose this degree? My liberal arts education gave me a great foundation for my career–strong writing skills, presentation skills, research and analysis skills, etc. However, through my AmeriCorps VISTA service, I realized that I needed more quantitative skills in order to move forward in my career. It was also the right timing to go back to school in my personal life.

Right now I’m taking four courses:

  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Intro to Public Policy
  • Quantitative Methods (ie STATS)
  • Analytic Tools for Public Problems (ie MICROECONOMICS)

Since I haven’t had any math in 6 years, save for when I was prepping for the GRE, it’s been a little tough. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready. Much readier than I would have been if I’d come straight out of undergrad.

I’m also working 15 hours per week as a graduate assistant/work study student .I’m mainly coordinating events, like open houses and the department speaker series, but I’m also helping screen applicants for a senior faculty search. Come winter I’ll probably help out with recruitment for students for the program. (Yes, my VISTA Leader skills translate! That was a relief).

In other news, my family vacation to Disney World rocked! I got Minnie Mouse ears. They’re sequined. And awesome. The end.

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Officially an AmeriCorps Alum

Hello from sunny Florida! I’m currently on vacation for the first time in 2 years. My family and I are enjoying Disney World, one park at a time. More to come on that. I officially ended my VISTA Leader term on Friday. The end was bittersweet–I absolutely loved my work as VISTA Leader. I have worked with some truly amazing people, and I have grown so much , personally and professionally. Let me just say that it sucks to leave a job (and coworkers)that you truly enjoy. I made an infographic about my VISTAs progress over their service terms. As a result of their efforts, we recruited more volunteers, raised more funds, developed partnerships, and ultimately served more students over the course of the year. Our project has really made a difference in New Haven, and for that I’m proud. Last Wednesday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro announced our grant expanding the project to 21 VISTAs. We got some press and I got to hug Rosa DeLauro. Talk about ending on a high note! That being said, knowing what I am about to do next has really helped me deal with the transition. I start school and my graduate assistant position in a little over a week. I’m just pumped for this next adventure.

Counting down!

So great news from the office today!

We just got an operations grant that will expand  our project from 16 to 20 VISTAs, and potentially up to 25 in the future. This is a huge deal because our project will receive money directly from CNCS and distribute it to VISTA members directly, and will have more money for trainings and other events.  It’s sad that I’m not going to get to experience the impact of that (I got to struggle through the nonexistent budget for trainings and events this year), but this is great for the project moving forward.  VISTAs have really helped students throughout New Haven achieve this year, and more VISTAs will only help to improve education access in the city.  I’m so proud of my work this year, and I’m so proud that we got this grant to continue the work we’ve been doing for years to come.

In any case, we got word today that Representative Rosa DeLauro will be able to attend our announcement event next week! Rosa DeLauro has been our district representative to Congress for over 20 years, and her family is big in New Haven. Press like that is big for our project’s publicity. We’ll be at New Haven Reads, one of our amazing host sites, and Mary Strasser, the national VISTA director, may also be there.  In short, pretty great.

Plus, I think Rosa DeLauro is awesome. She beats to the sound of her own drum and tenaciously fights for her constituency. I saw her (and Nancy Pelosi) speak about women’s success last week, and I was really blown away by her passion for improving women’s salary, access to sick days, and access to childcare. She rocks. And so does her wardrobe.