My name is Megan Lucy, and I graduated in 2012 with an MPA from Missouri State. Since my graduation, what I have appreciated most about my MPA is the flexibility it has given me to travel and pursue a wide variety of employment opportunities. I married a fellow Missouri State Bear the day after graduation, and have traveled with him to Toledo, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky as he pursues a Ph.D. in music. In each of those locations, my Missouri State education has allowed me to quickly find stable, well paying, and interesting employment so that my life following a musician around the country isn’t nearly as Bohemian as it sounds.
While still a student at Missouri State, I had the opportunity to work for my political idol, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. I started at her office as an intern, through a connection I had made in Model United Nations. After a few months, I was hired as a staff assistant managing the day to day affairs of the Senator’s Springfield office and representing her at events throughout the state. I was then promoted to Veterans’ Affairs casework, assisting veterans to navigate the federal bureaucracy and receive the benefits they are due.
When I moved to Ohio, the 2012 election cycle was in full swing and I was hired as a field organizer for the Ohio Democratic Party, working primarily on U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s reelection campaign. This was one of the first major elections since the Citizens United decision, and the most expensive Senate election up to that point. While we ultimately prevailed, getting Senator Brown reelected and swinging the state for President Obama, I learned that organizing is very hard work, especially when you are up against millions of dollars.
After the intensity and uncertainty of campaign life, I decided to switch gears and more actively pursue public administration instead of politics. My favorite subject in the MPA program was organizational psychology, and I wanted to experience what it was like to work within a larger organization. I took an administrative assistant job in the College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University, and after moving to Kentucky took a very similar job in the Dean’s office of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at University of Kentucky. My primary responsibilities are the oversight of faculty personnel actions- the hiring, promotion, and evaluation of professors.
Simplifying bureaucracy is a specific and valuable skill set that an MPA provides. As a caseworker for the Senate, I helped veterans and their families who while dealing with bereavement and injury were faced with what seemed like an overwhelming wall of bureaucracy. Through campaigns, I worked with volunteers to find effective ways for their voices to be heard when they felt drowned out by corporate spending. Unclear expectations for hiring, promotion, and tenure are some of the leading causes for women and minorities leaving academia, especially in the STEM fields. At BGSU, and now at the University of Kentucky, I work to clarify university policy and provide support to academics as they advance their careers, so that we can retain the best and brightest in their fields.
The MPA has been a perfect degree for me as it has allowed me to explore a wide variety of fields, while retaining that core mission of simplifying bureaucracy so others may thrive. It has also allowed me the flexibility to balance my career and personal life. A less flexible degree could have left me unemployed for many months as I moved around, or unable to provide the benefits my husband and I need to sustain ourselves while he is a full time student. As it is, my education has been perfect for my three goals of helping others, being financially stable, and achieving a positive work-life balance.