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MPA Alumni Stories

Students enrolled in the M.P.A. program, and recent graduates of the M.P.A. program, have obtained their first professional jobs as a result of their involvement in the program. In-service students report receiving promotions, raises, and new responsibilities as a result of their completion of the program.

Explore what our alumni have to say!

Georgia State Senator

Steve GoochSteve Gooch earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from NGCSU in 1993 and was executive director of R-Ranch in the Mountains, a Lumpkin County resort, when he entered the M.P.A. Program in 1997.  While an M.P.A. student, Steve was initiated into the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society and served as president of NGCSU's Xi Kappa Chapter.  He was the second graduate of the M.P.A. Program.  In 2000, Steve was elected to be the last "sole commissioner" (the one-man legislature) of Lumpkin County.  As county commissioner, Steve stabilized the desperate fiscal crisis that he inherited from his predecessor.  In 2004, Steve was elected to become the first chairman of Lumpkin County's new Board of Commissioners.  In 2003, Steve became one of the first five recipients of the Georgia "Excellence in Public Service Awards," presented by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia in partnership with Georgia Trend magazine.  The magazine's editors wrote that Steve's "tight-fisted, sunshine approach to finances includes a code of ethics, as well as travel and purchase policies unlike anything Lumpkin [County] had before."  After serving as Lumpkin County's board chairman, Steve was elected to the State Transportation Board and, in 2010, to a seat in Georgia's State Senate.

Founding/Former Commissioner - Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

Marsha Harper MooreMarsha Harper Moore already occupied a position of responsibility in Georgia's Office of School Readiness when she began her studies in the M.P.A. Program.  Her outstanding scholarship earned her membership in the Pi Gamma Mu social-science honor society and the Pi Sigma Alpha political-science honor society, and recognition in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges.  Marsha graduated from the program "with distinction."  Immediately upon her graduation, Marsha was promoted to division director of child-care services with responsibilities in policy development and regulation writing for the agency.  Later, Marsha was promoted to director of programs, and, from 2000 until 2003, Marsha was acting director of the agency until Governor Sonny Perdue appointed her to the position of director in September 2003.  On May 12, 2004, Governor Perdue named Marsha to be the first commissioner of the new state Department of Early Care and Learning.  She served in that position for four years.  During the fall semester of 2001, Marsha taught POLS 7380, "Public Personnel Administration," for the M.P.A. Program.

Presidential Management Intern - U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jennifer TuckerJennifer M. Tucker was a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Georgia's Department of Human Resources when she entered the M.P.A. Program.  Her outstanding work as a graduate student earned her membership in the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society for leadership and the Pi Sigma Alpha political-science honor society.  She completed the M.P.A. Program with a GPA of 4.0. During her final semester, she applied and was selected for a prestigious federal-government Presidential Management Internship. Her first PMI assignment was in the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in the office of the director of planning, evaluation, and legislation.


Instructor of Computer Science - North Georgia College & State University

Holly PayneHolly R. Payne came to the M.P.A. Program as an accomplished alumna of NGCSU.  As an undergraduate in sociology, she won the Leger Sociology Award, was initiated as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi interdisciplinary honor society, and received a Presidential Scholar award for presenting a paper at NGCSU's Honor Day Research Conference.  Holly completed the M.P.A. Program with a GPA of 4.0, was initiated into the Pi Sigma Alpha political-science honor society, and was recognized in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges.   Within days of her graduation, she began work as a temporary full-time instructor of computer science at NGCSU for the 2000-2001 academic year.  Holly continues to teach for NGCSU's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.


Attorney (graduate of Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law)

Mason BryanMason G. Bryan was the prototype of the student activist during his enrollment in the M.P.A. Program. Not only was he the president of the M.P.A. Student Association, but he was also elected to the position of executive chair of the Graduate Student Senate. In that capacity, he reorganized the Senate, participating in the development of a new constitution and creating a new, effective process for funding graduate students' travel to present research papers at academic conferences. He received the Graduate Student Senate Award for Extraordinary Service.  Mason was initiated into the Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Pi Gamma Mu (social sciences), and Pi Sigma Alpha (political science) honor societies, and was recognized in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. While an M.P.A. student, Mason was appointed to the position of environmental-compliance officer of Lumpkin County, and thus became the youngest chief of any law-enforcement agency in the entire United States.



Matt Paul, 1999

While enrolled in the M.P.A. Program at NGCSU, I maintained a full-time, professional-level position with a sister college.  I found the class schedule and workload very user-friendly and sustainable.  Upon completion of the program, I held a wealth of valuable knowledge that I immediately put into practice.  In addition, I was awarded a substantial promotion from director to associate vice president.

I constantly utilize the skills acquired during the program and frequently refer to my textbooks, especially Human Resources Management, when dealing with large projects.  I am grateful to NGCSU and my advisor, Dr. Barry Friedman.

Christina R. Salo Palacios, 2000

What I am doing is absolutely a dream job.  And everything I was taught as an M.P.A. student happens each week, if not daily or even hourly on some days.

Don Morris, 2001

. . . [Y]our program . . . was great fun and possibly the most interesting thing that I have done in the last 20 years.

John Ford, 2001

The M.P.A. Program at North Georgia College & State University is convenient, affordable, and reputable.  Shortly after completing the program, I was able to secure a new job with better pay and more responsibility.  Since completing the program five years ago, I have a greater sense of accomplishment and direction in my career.  The M.P.A. Program at NGCSU has definitely made a positive impact on my life.  Dr. Barry Friedman, the program coordinator, is an exceptional professor and a great connection in the field of public administration.  I heartily recommend to any prospective students that they apply for admission for study toward the M.P.A. degree at NGCSU!

Holly Payne, 2000

The education I gained in the M.P.A. Program grows only more valuable since my graduation in 2000.  The program includes tremendous learning experiences, and, for me, it was both challenging and engaging.  As I continue teaching, it still serves me well.  And as I dream of and plan for the nonprofit organization I'd love to start in the future, it will only continue to serve me more.

Stephanie Rice, 2000

I am very proud of my M.P.A. degree.  Not only was it a personally rewarding experience, but also it was an eye-opening experience due to the expansive areas of study covered.  I often have statistically valid random samples conducted in my line of work, and extrapolated overpayments are calculated.  I'm confident in these statistical results due to the understanding I developed in the M.P.A. Program at NGCSU.

John McClure, 2002

. . . [E]very year, since I had the privilege of participating in the M.P.A. Program, I experience a deeper appreciation for the association I had with NGCSU [and] the M.P.A. Program. . . .

A. David Smith, 2002

As an entry level public manager, I found that the M.P.A. Program at NGCSU struck a great balance between the intellectual and practical side of public administration.  It helped me to see the foundational principles and trends that influenced my "piece of the pie."  This program challenged my thinking, restructured my approach to public service, and gave me immediate credibility with my managers.  It was the best educational decision I've ever made.

Kevin Flanagan, 2003

The program literally turned my life around and has meant more than I would have thought before I enrolled. . . . If there is anything . . . I can ever do for the program . . ., do not hesitate to ask. . . .

Curt Sanchez, 2004

My decision to pursue an M.P.A. degree from NGCSU is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  My thirst for knowledge was strengthened by the program’s engaging coursework and thought-provoking, in-class discussions.  From a practical standpoint, my participation in the program opened many doors that otherwise would have remained closed.  During that time, I began an internship (later turning into full-time employment) in land-use planning with the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center, where I worked for the duration of my M.P.A. experience.  It was the combination of the M.P.A. coursework and that employment experience that allowed me to find my niche.

Upon completion of the M.P.A. Program, under the guidance of Dr. Barry Friedman, I went directly to law school to further my knowledge of the system of government and laws under which our society operates.

As I write, I am in the middle of the fall-semester exam period for my final year of law school at Georgia State University's College of Law.  I currently work part time with the EPA Regional Office in Atlanta, where I apply things I learned via the M.P.A. Program daily.  I owe much of my success in law school to the foundation that was laid during my time spent earning the M.P.A. degree.  There is no doubt that it put me ahead as I began my legal studies.  Likewise, I have no doubt that I will continue to use the knowledge that I gained in the M.P.A. Program as I begin the practice of law next August, and beyond.

Sasha Travis, 2006

The M.P.A. Program at North Georgia College & State University challenged me in an area that I really wanted to develop – analytical reading and writing.  By the end of the program, which took me two and a half years to complete, I saw tremendous improvement in my critical-thinking and analytical skills.  I am currently pursuing a civil-engineering degree to supplement my M.P.A. degree, which will allow me to be a successful candidate in the field of municipal planning and development.  I feel like the uniqueness of the M.P.A. program is relating academic concepts to real-life situations for public administrators today.

Trey Wilson, 2006

I have attended eight colleges and universities and have earned four graduate degrees in addition to my bachelor's degree.  Having this basis for comparison, I can say categorically that my experience in the M.P.A. program at NGCSU was by far the most enjoyable and the most rewarding in my academic career.  The faculty made the courses intriguing, meaningful, and, frankly, fun.  Significantly, they encouraged discourse and challenged students to really engage the course subject matter.  The work load was demanding, but fair, and always strove towards having students both master academic material and practical material as well.  The faculty were always available, always professional, and always willing to go the extra mile to facilitate student success, and my fellow students were a diverse and interesting group that I bonded with from day one.

The impact for me for earning my M.P.A. at North Georgia was immediate.  I was hired even before I completed the program as an instructor of political science at Gainesville State College.  Four years later, I'm still at GSC on the tenure-track and I use what I learned in my M.P.A. courses daily in the political science classes I teach.  In the long run, earning my M.P.A. at North Georgia not only facilitated my beginning a fun and fulfilling career, but it also helped me to better appreciate the intricacies of government and bureaucracy and the many benefits and responsibilities attendant to being a citizen in a democracy.

Ansley Anderson, 2012

I am grateful for the opportunity to have studied in the M.P.A. Program.  I cannot adequately acclaim the level of preparedness it has given me for my work with a government contractor in Virginia.  I am fully equipped to not only perform but even excel in my job duties because of my M.P.A. degree from UNG.  My job relies heavily on statistics.  Tell the students in the “Statistics for Public Management” course to get excited and retain all that goodness that the faculty is giving them!  It has proved, for me, to be an invaluable education.  I want to tell everybody that the quality of our M.P.A. Program is outstanding and worth every hour of sleep lost, every free weekend surrendered, every cup of coffee consumed, and every dollar invested.

Stephanie Gilstrap Hulsey, 2013

Since graduating last year, I have been offered six jobs‑‑all leadership positions.  I know that I would not have been considered for those positions if I hadn’t graduated from the M.P.A. Program.

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