Kiia Owens

Current Student

Durham County Government

Why earn a Master of Public Administration degree?
I currently work in social services and have seen quite a few issues that I think need to be addressed from an administrative perspective. My current position doesn’t allow me to address them. I can tell people what I see as an issue, but I want to effect more change. I feel like a Master of Public Administration degree would allow me to do that.

Why attend MPA@UNC?
One of the strong points of MPA@UNC is the fact that the professors are actually working in the real world, not strictly in academia. Their real-life experiences are valuable in shaping our education to be more useful and helpful. The things I learn in class can be applied to my career immediately.

Each of my classes provides real-world experience in the context that they’re taught. The examples, the experiences of the teachers, and the experiences of my classmates all help to make the subject matter real. It makes it easy to apply it to the work that I do now—and hopefully the work that I will do in the future.

What did you expect from an online program?
I wanted to be able to interact with my classmates, interact with my teacher, and have a real-world experience—without having to leave my job.

What is the technical support like?
The platform technology has been pretty reliable for me. Whenever I had some issues, I was able to get tech support to respond quickly and give me easy instructions on how to straighten out the problem.

How has the balance of work, life, and school been for you?
Getting my education has always been important to me. I don’t have the option to not work while in school, so it was very important to me to sustain my livelihood and meet my responsibilities while bettering my education. It’s a bonus that the education I’m receiving is helpful for me now in my day-to-day work.

While the classroom is teaching me things that I can use on a daily basis or in my work right now, it’s also helping me to prepare for the next step, even before graduation. I’m growing and learning at the same time, and I didn’t have to give up my job or postpone my education in order to pursue a degree at a great institution.

Have other people noticed improvement in your work?
Part of my job entails going to court and addressing matters with our attorneys. My attorney let me know that she’s noticed a difference. I’ve also been asked to draft a few emails because of my communication class. Perhaps my communication skills have shown improvement, so I’ve been asked to take on more responsibility.

What do you think about the way the material is presented?
What I’ve enjoyed most is that MPA@UNC is interactive; I can see and hear my classmates. We can have a continuing conversation, whereas on a message board system you’re waiting for someone else to respond. I enjoy the fact that it’s a set time and that the interaction is real, allowing us to answer, ask, respond, and interact. The platform has been really helpful.