Reflections from a USF MoPA Alum: Collaborate, Communicate, Have Courage

Alia Al-Sharif headshot
Alia Al-Sharif
Senior Project Manager, Barbary Coast Consulting
Master of Public Affairs ’12

When I reflect back on my experience as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, I can’t help but think about how fast the last two and a half years since graduation have flown by.  My mind immediately starts thinking about how incredibly fortunate I am to apply everything I learned in graduate school to my job. People usually stop and stare blankly when I say that, but it’s true! From media pitches to developing authentic community engagement strategies, the Masters of Public Affairs (MoPA) program was where I cut my teeth in San Francisco politics. The MoPA program also helped me strengthen vital skill sets that have been crucial to me as a working professional.

As students we were pushed outside of our comfort zone to collaborate and work closely with others in every course and even outside of the classroom. Throughout our coursework we were challenged to compellingly communicate our thoughts, whether it be in our writing or our presentations. We also needed to have the courage to stand up and voice our opinion on controversial topics and to defend our work.

These three skills came up time and time again in the program, and come up time and time again in my role as Senior Project Manager at Barbary Coast Consulting. As a political consultant, collaborating with colleagues is instrumental to our work. It’s not about who comes up with the best idea, but how can we work together to develop a concept and strategy that will successfully achieve our goals. I’m challenged to think outside of the box to creatively communicate complex topics and translate these messages across audiences. Even when having an unpopular opinion; when you know it’s the right one you must have the courage to share it and believe in everything you do and say 100 percent of the time.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to have worked closely with a student currently enrolled in the MoPA program, Jasmine Conrad.

Alia Al-Sharif blog 2Jasmine has been working at Barbary Coast Consulting this summer for her graduate internship.The thread that ties us together is one of passion, purpose and pride of doing things differently and wanting to make a positive impact in a city we care so deeply about. It has been such a joy to work with her! I’m grateful to the MoPA program, its staff, its faculty, and its students, for being a community where we can all rely on each other. We’ll continue to collaborate, communicate, and have the courage to leave this world better then we found it through the professional fields we all enter. When you know someone is a graduate of the MoPA program or another program at  the Leo T. McCarthy Center, you know you’re working with someone who has as much of a commitment to serve the common good as you do — and that’s truly incredible!

Watch Alia along with two other recent MoPA graduates here.

Alia Al-Sharif

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2 thoughts on “Reflections from a USF MoPA Alum: Collaborate, Communicate, Have Courage

  1. Probably important to note that Alia has been promoted to Director at Barbary Coast – partially because of her excellent skills and drive, and partly because of the training she received at the University of San Francisco. Go, Alia!

  2. Pingback: 3 Numbers To Know About our M.A. in Public Affairs and Urban Affairs | Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good

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