Why Georgia’s MPA Program: Kim’s wRight Loft
by Gerena Walker
For many who have the bug of public service, they often choose undergraduate degrees in political science, economics, history, international affairs, or some sort of social degree that focuses on community advocacy. But what happens when you graduate and want to further that education? Most people will aspire to law school, but what do the other people do? Some will become teachers, community activist, social workers, and so on. Then there’s us- the continued learners who chose public administration. We have learned the history, the foundational social and economic landscape of our political system, now we want to learn how to add ourselves to improve it.
At the University of Georgia, our Master of Public Administration program is profound for two reasons: the curriculum and the people. The curriculum has been curated to perfectly balance the different technical skills of being a public administrator – the writer, the analyzer, the financial advisor, the researcher, and the manager. Our core classes hit on the different facets of what makes a public manager be able to thrive in any sector- public or private. Furthermore, it is a challenging, yet doable track with the opportunity to dive more deeply into a specific topic through the provided elective courses. This program doesn’t just teach theory but gives you the challenge of practice; case studies that cover decision making where you’d have to analyze what went wrong, what went right, and what would you have done differently, organizing and balancing a budget from scratch with little bits of information to guide, and critical thinking technical skills for solving problems. Truly, our program sharpens the sword for us to be well-rounded practitioners.
Aside, the title seems off putting or strange to say the least. However, they it is in reference to three of my favorite people in SPIA- Professors Dr. Sun Young Kim, Dr. Michelle Lofton, and Dr. Bradley Wright. They are my favorites for a collective reason, they all, whether intentional or not, practice what it truly means to be a teacher beyond a professor. Professors are expected to be experts in the field or in content, they are expected to continuously participate in cultivating research individually and with peers. Teachers instruct their classroom on material for a result of knowledge or performance from the student. Quality teachers do this being conscious of identity and ability of their classroom and incorporate these two factors either in their curriculum and/or their classroom culture and standards. The pun Kim’s wRight Loft is an ode to three of the best professors in SPIA who not only professors are but quality teachers. Each one of their classes were material I had no experience in, with practices I was not skilled in; and were all quite a challenge. However, each professor observed their students, listened to our needs, and would adjust to our ability all while still maintaining the integrity of their courses. Dr. Kim, Dr. Wright, and Dr. Lofton are all one of my favorite reasons for why I chose Georgia and I am so thankful to have been a student in each of their classes- PADP 6920, 6930, 7120, and 8420.