MPA@UNC Celebrates Its First Graduates

Christmas. Chanukah. New Year’s Eve. The month of December is jam-packed with celebrations. As MPA@UNC prepares for the holidays, we are excited to have yet another reason to celebrate: Ruth Rivas and Jeremy Schmidt are graduating!

Both Rivas and Schmidt enrolled in MPA@UNC during the inaugural cohort in January 2013. Rivas, a public defender, was interested in a career change to nonprofit management. Schmidt, a consultant and member of the US Marine Corps Reserve, hoped to build skills that would allow him to better advise local and federal government clients. They both agree that the flexibility of the program and the strength of UNC’s reputation made the decision to try out the brand-new online format easy. As Rivas puts it, “I am currently a full-time mom and teacher. I moved three times during two years…A traditional degree can’t offer that level of flexibility.”

We asked these two pioneers to reflect on their MPA@UNC experience.

On balancing work, life, and pursuing a degree:

Schmidt: “It was a challenge, but the online format enabled such a balance.”

On connections made with fellow classmates:

Rivas: “I feel so connected to my cohort and many of the students I had class with. Throughout the program I texted and chatted with them online EVERY DAY. Many of us plan to stay in touch. I know some of these friendships will stand the test of time.”

On the 2014 Public Administration Conference:

Schmidt: “The sessions are informative, but the real value is the ability to meet and network not only with campus students and professors but also the professionals who attend.”

On favorite memories of MPA@UNC:

Rivas: “I think my favorite memories of the program are the moments I shared with colleagues and professors having that “aha” moment.”

Both Rivas and Schmidt plan to attend and walk during the official Carolina MPA graduation ceremony in May 2015.