Spotlight: Graduate Ambassador Alicia Arkwright

By Alicia Arkwright, Master of Public Administration student

Arkwright at Zion National Park in Utah.

I once read an article that advised readers to think of their career as a river. Not only do rivers bend and slow, but they are made up of many tributaries from different directions, ultimately leading to the ocean. The reader's task was to identify the ocean. My river comprises many tributaries (jobs) from nonprofit work to owning my own business, but my ocean has remained constant: to protect the environment.

I ended up in Wayne State's Master of Public Administration program because I wanted to learn how public and nonprofit organizations address environmental issues. More importantly, how they include people along the way. I focused on earth sciences in my undergraduate studies, but I think learning how to engage people in the process is just as important.

The main hardship along the way I have and continue to experience is overcoming the thought of needing to know exactly where I should be career-wise. If I do not have a specific job by a particular time, I will miss the boat. The river analogy helps me rethink this scenario and view every opportunity as a new tool in my toolbox.

Working in nonprofits, I learned how to be resourceful and a team player. Running my own business, I acquired time management and budgeting skills. Every opportunity is a chance to grow if the perspective is to learn from it. And if you identify your ocean, you can better aim your energy.

The MPA curriculum has increased my perspective on organizational effectiveness and potential career pathways. I have gained a clearer picture of how interdependent the environment and communities are on one another. Earning my MPA will enable me to feel more confident during my career search, sharpen my analytical skills, and help me connect with other professionals headed to the same ocean.  

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