As an evening program student, I am able to apply the concepts discussed in class immediately in my work.
Why did you choose the McCourt School?
The McCourt School of Public Policy was my top choice for my graduate studies for a variety of reasons, but the most important factors were the excellent faculty, Washington, DC location and the course offerings. The faculty are first class with many professors having significant practical policy experience—a quality that cannot be undervalued. Their perspective and real world “war stories” contribute significantly to each course by allowing students to see how numerous policy concepts play out in a variety of situations. The high quality faculty is likely a function of being located in Washington, DC. Being in the nation’s capitol gives the school the ability to draw in faculty, guest speakers, and lecturers from federal agencies, national advocacy groups and think tanks. The location also gives students a wide range of internship and employment opportunities directly related to their policy interests. The final characteristic of the McCourt School that appealed to me when applying to the school was the array of course offerings directly related to my interest in social policy—specifically at-risk children and families. From education to health to criminal justice—the course offerings span a variety of topics that I want to pursue academically and professionally.
How has your experience at McCourt been so far?
Excellent! Given Georgetown University’s prestige, I had high expectations for the program and have been pleased to have those expectations met. As an evening program student, I am able to apply the concepts discussed in class immediately in my work. While theoretical models are discussed, the emphasis of the courses I have taken thus far is on applying the knowledge in a way we would “on the job.” As one of my professors has described it, public policy students need to become “pracademics”—a mix between a practitioner and academic. The McCourt School is doing an excellent job at preparing its students to be just that.
Have you taken advantage of the McCourt School’s DC location? If so, how?
I work in Washington, DC so I take advantage of the school’s DC location everyday. Beyond that, being in DC means that many McCourt students work or intern at federal agencies, nonprofits or in other policy related positions, which results in a rich student body that brings diverse perspectives to class discussions. For instance, I have classmates that work at the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, on Capitol Hill, in healthcare, in environmental advocacy groups, for foreign governments, and an array of other places. I think it would be difficult to find this level of diversity in policy-related experience among student bodies in schools located elsewhere in the country.
What do you hope to do with your McCourt School degree?
My principal academic and career goal is to increase the supports available to vulnerable children and families in order to improve society over time. Early childhood education, violence prevention programs and other preventive efforts can be extraordinarily effective at helping children and families overcome factors that put them at higher risk for negative outcomes. So to promote such efforts, my academic and career objectives include: identifying effective prevention initiatives through quantitative research, exploring how to implement policies to support them, and developing strategies to redirect resources to more preventive efforts over the long-term. With a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown, I have a wide variety of options to pursue these goals, including working at any level of government (federal, state or local) or in any sector (public, private and nonprofit).
What would you say about the McCourt School to a prospective student?
Be prepared to be challenged on a number of fronts. Since starting my MPP at Georgetown, I’ve had moments where I have questioned my fundamental beliefs about the role of government, my political leanings on certain topics, and where my specific policy interests lie. The faculty also hold you to high standards and push you to the next level. This means that this is not an easy program. It is instead a program that seeks to help you grow and prepare you to excel in the policy-related career path you choose. That is exactly what I was looking for from a graduate program and I encourage you to expect the same from the graduate program you select.