Thursday, June 7, 2018

Graduated with my Master's Degree in Public Policy and Administration!!!

I have a list of goals. Small goals, big goals, and BIG goals. And about 5 years ago, I set a BIG goal for myself. I decided to work toward a Master's Degree in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA).

Why? My friends and family all asked me this. I did not have a clear answer other than the fact I had a deep interest in housing policy issues thanks to my involvement in the Sacramento and California Associations of Realtors, and I felt I wanted to deepen my understanding of policy analysis. [Analysis and advocacy are two very different things.] And to answer the question everyone seemed to ask: NO, I AM NOT changing careers. I continue to be a full-time, top-producing Sacramento real estate broker. I am perhaps just a smarter, geekier realtor now.

I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Spanish with a minor in Ethnic Studies back in 2001 -- a far cry from the study of Public Policy and Administration. Before I could even apply to the MPPA program, I had to enroll in prerequisite coursework in Economics, Government, and Statistics. So in the spring semester of 2014 I enrolled at American River College and for the next three semesters knocked out those classes. I applied for the MPPA program and was accepted, and in the fall semester of 2015 started the MPPA program at California State University Sacramento

Initially I felt like a fish out of water - generally I was a bit older than most of the other students in the program, and most of the other students worked for public agencies, in legislative offices, or were lobbyists. Thankfully, they all were my nerdy kindred spirits and we all had a love for policy. I fit right in.

Not only did I fit right in, but as it turns out, I really excelled in my coursework. I took classes in applied economic analysis, public administration, quantitative analysis, urban policy, research methods and more. I wrote papers on all sorts of nerdy policy topics ranging from homelessness, the supply and demand of labor markets, short-term rentals and the sharing economy, organizational performance metrics, homeownership rates, and determinants of home value. I wrote my thesis on the positive and negative spillover effects associated with the growth in numbers of Homeowners Associations in Sacramento County. It was a lot of hard work and I loved every minute of it. 

I liked it so much that I got involved in the Graduate Association of Students in Public Policy and Administration (GASPPA) and served as Treasurer for 2017-2018. The Faculty asked me to sit on the hiring committee for a new faculty member, which was a really interesting experience. My professors encouraged me to submit my research on Homeowners Associations to different student research symposiums, and I ended up presenting my research in three separate events, which was really awesome. 

And the craziest part...I had the highest GPA in my program at 3.97 (darn that one A-). The faculty of my department selected me for the 2018 Cristy Jensen Award, named for the founder of the MPPA program. And last but not least, the Dean of the College of Social Science and Interdisciplinary Studies named me Graduate Student of the Year for 2018 for the SSIS Department. And I graduated "with Distinction". 

So May 18, 2018 I walked across the stage at the Golden 1 Arena. What a ride! I can't say enough great things about the program, faculty, and my fellow students. It was a lot of work, and during my 1.5 years of prerequisites and 3 years in the MPPA program I managed to do all that and remain a top producing Realtor. In fact if anything I just got busier while I was in graduate school.

So now what? Well I am maybe the nerdiest Realtor in Sacramento. And being done with school, I have more time on my hands for something - I guess my next BIG goal, whatever that turns out to be.

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