How would I define the graduate school experience?

Sarah Souza_1

Sarah Souza
Master of Public Affairs Candidate 2017

How would I define the graduate school experience? I wonder how to best define it, I think I could describe it as a pathway to leadership development. My journey has only just begun with the Master of Public Affairs (MoPA) program, but it has already left lasting impressions upon myself.

Before classes officially began, my cohort had a whole week of orientation. This was a great opportunity to meet the rest of my cohort and bond together. The most outstanding part during the week of orientation was our day of service. We spent the day serving at the Saint Anthony Foundation, where we, as a group, served about 2,500 meals to the homeless population in the Tenderloin. It was a life changing experience to learn about their background, and what led them to become homeless. What I liked about the program at St. Anthony’s the most, is the humane approach they approach their mission with. Everyone is treated as people with the respect and dignity al humanity deserves. It is a non-discriminatory approach not turning anyone away, in which they offer daily meals, and free clothing to anyone who is looking for help regardless of gender, race or status.

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Although the resources provided by St. Anthony’s, and by other non-profits in the Tenderloin neighborhood are critical, they are not sufficient resources to mitigate the lack of access. The most crucial and vivid issue is the lack of access to affordable housing, and for some of them even limited access to portable water. After our day of service we all spent time reflecting on our activities for the day. Learning about their situation made me reflect about the importance of becoming a leader, and the significance of speaking up for others  – reasons that lead me to seek a graduate program.

A week ago when I first started MoPA, I was asked by my Applied American Politics professor to read and discuss both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution in class. The purpose of this assignment was to analyze the function of government in our current political system; this challenged me to think outside the box, and enticed me to question the role of government in both local and federal level. During this class discussion, I felt empowered and confident to speak up – my voice mattered – that was when I was certain that I made the right decision when I choose to apply for the MoPA program.

The first week as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, I’ve been pushed outside of my comfort zone, encouraged to collaborate in class, and compelled to read critically – everything that graduate school promises to do. This program provides access to multiple tools that will enhance career growth, network and works hard to provide students access to multiple internship opportunities in the government sector, non-profit and private sector. Besides the multiple benefits of this program, I already feel part of the MoPA family. Everyone is willing to work with one another, and the professors and staff member provide support that will help me to grow personally and professionally over the next two years.

I appreciate the experiences so far that the MoPA program has provided to our cohort and it’s only been a couple of weeks! I look forward to learning more and contributing what I have to offer throughout this amazing program.

MoPA '17

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