Merrimack College recently hosted an engaging panel discussion with three accomplished alumni from the Master of Public Administration and Affairs (MPAA) program. Tony Collins M’18, Charles Boddy M’20 and Taylor Galusha M’21, all shared personal insights from their academic and career journeys.
Brad Miller, program director of the MPAA program, set the stage for the event by providing a brief overview of Merrimack’s Master of Public Administration and Affairs. He highlighted the graduate program’s growth and its commitment to shaping future leaders in government, community affairs and public policy.
Tony Collins, shared his experience of being part of the first student cohort of the program to later becoming a Transportation Planner at Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. He emphasized the program’s role in helping him professionally. He stated, “I was searching for the path forward, and the MPAA program felt like the right path for me. Without the program, I wouldn’t have my career now.” Tony provided advice to other students looking to pursue their MPAA degree, counseling, “Build relationships with your classmates, with your teachers, with people you meet here tonight. I think those relationships will not only help you in your career but make it more fulfilling for you, too. I always prioritize that.”
Taylor Galusha then shared that during her master’s studies, she completed graduate fellowship with the Town of Middletown which gave her the opportunity to gain real-world experience while saving on her graduate tuition. She credited her fellowship with helping her land her current job as an Assistant to the Town Manager and Communications Coordinator for the town of Shrewsbury, MA. Taylor also attended Merrimack as an undergraduate and spoke about the amazing community at Merrimack. “Merrimack has such a strong community. I fell in love with just the concept and program’s emphasis on service to the community.”
Taylor also offered insight into the dual focus of the Master of Public Administration and Affairs curriculum, explaining, “You get the affairs side of it, that would be like your policy courses, so kind of perpetuating change outwardly in your community. Then you also get those essential management skills, allowing you to navigate within an organization. In the degree you get both sides of the spectrum within an organization, managing, working with people, innovating and making things better.”
Charles Boddy, with over two decades of experience as a City Attorney, Town Counsel, and Assistant City Solicitor, provided his perspectives on public administration. He highlighted the importance of approaching graduate school with enthusiasm and curiosity, encouraging students not to be put off by challenging courses. He said, “Come excited to learn. Don’t be intimidated, because oftentimes I did not take a course the first time when I had the opportunity to, because it looked like it was just too much, and I regret that. I ended up taking the course, and it was fantastic. I never had a bad course in the program.” Picking up the evening’s running theme, like his fellow panelists Charles emphasized the value of making connections. He urged students to “connect with your fellow students as well as with your professors. You learn from your classmates because each person coming in comes from a very different piece of the community.”
The meet and greet after the panel discussion allowed the crowd to make an immediate start on building such connections, through mingling with the panelists, the program director, Brad Miller, and their fellow attendees.