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Recent Graduate Leads Congressman’s Constituent Economic Development Services

Prospective students often wonder where our graduates work after they finish their degree program. We sometimes struggle to answer because there are so many possible paths for MPAs and MPPs. Yet, somehow, some way, the Martin School is able to prepare individuals for work across sectors, policy areas, and job titles. Alyshia Powell (MPA ’16) sheds some light on the mystery:

“One of the most important things I learned in my time at the Martin School was how to communicate complex policies or processes to people in an effective, concise manner… The value [of the program] came from the professors I learned from and the people I learned with. Besides budgeting and analysis skills, I also think the focus on professional development was critical to my success in this office. There are many different options for careers in public service, but the professional development skills learned are universally applicable to all options.”

As the Director of Economic Development for Congressman Andy Barr, Alyshia brings all of these skills to bear, and more! “I help local elected officials and constituents identify federal funding for projects in their communities,” she says, “These projects range from infrastructure projects to historical preservation projects and everything in between.” What does this process look like? Alyshia often meets with stakeholders to understand their needs, and then puts together detailed reports with potential funding sources for the project. Her work doesn’t end there, though—she also guides applicants through the grant process.

“My favorite days are the ones where I get to go out into the district for a groundbreaking or ribbon cutting for a project that I know is the culmination of years of hard work on behalf of many people in the community,” she shares. “It is very rewarding to know that you played a small part in making that project a reality, and even more rewarding when you see how that project makes life better for the people in that community.”

Although Alyshia graduated recently, she isn’t new to a career in public service. She worked full-time while attending graduate school. While extremely hard at times, she found value in continuing to work while studying. “I was able to immediately apply skills learned in school to my work on behalf of constituents,” she recalls. For example, around the time she took a class in strategic planning for the public sector last year, she also had the opportunity to put together a strategic plan in her own workplace.

We are so proud of the difference Alyshia is making in the world, and we look forward to seeing where her career takes her!