Blog The COVID-19 Pandemic and MPA Education: Student Perspectives on Public Service Values and Public Service Motivation

The Power and Pursuits of Graduate Student Leadership During the Pandemic

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by Evana Alam:

Public service motivation empowered me to seek MPA education at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Further, the public service values of accountability, inclusion, integrity, and justice in society and governance, aligned with my personal views. The COVID-19 pandemic changed many people’s lives and it is up to MPA students like me to ensure public service values. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the outlook for many MPA students. Some students lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and others have transitioned into remote work/learning. In addition, there are students who are not comfortable with online instruction. They are either struggling through their online courses or deferring to a later semester when things get back to normal. Many people also take technology for granted. Not every student has access to computers or Internet connections suitable for their work and education. We must understand that such resources may be basic to some people, but unavailable to many. Inclusion does not only refer to racial or gender demographics but financial resources as well.

As the current MPA Student Association (MPASA) President at John Jay College, I am seeking ways to connect resources to students struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since many on-campus student activities have been canceled this semester, I am looking for innovative ways to deliver resources to our students. One of our first events is to help students conduct academic research and navigate the John Jay College online library database. This will be conducted through online training facilitated by the college librarian. For some students, this can be a refresher course. But for others, this is a brand new resource. By collaborating with internal partners at the library, our efforts to support students during this fluid environment will ease some of their academic stress. 

Other events this semester include an online writing seminar and a federal employment tutorial. The first seminar will focus on effective writing skills and commonly found mistakes in student writing. A professor of the MPA Program will facilitate this essential training to increase students’ effectiveness in professional and academic writing skills. Many of our students have shown interest in pursuing a federal job. The employment seminar will provide students with tips and techniques to successfully seek employment in the federal workforce. The training will be facilitated by a former federal officer and an MPA faculty member who is well-versed with the federal job application process. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of many students. I am trying to reconnect broken relationships for graduate students by making sure student activities are continued throughout the semester. Access to college resources is challenging at the moment, but I try to help as many students as I can through productive workshops and webinars during the pandemic. It is the least I can do to uphold public service values during my tenure as MPASA President at John Jay College.

As a student body delegate, I aspire to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard. John Jay College consists of people from diverse backgrounds and ideologies. Unlike many universities, John Jay College is a Hispanic Serving Institution. We encourage diversity and inclusion as some of our main public service values. However, I recognize that many people do not have a voice. It is up to us to expand the views and concerns of people who are underrepresented in public service. As future leaders, we must propose reforms that revolve around community and equity for everyone.  

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About the author:

Evana Alam is an MPA Public Policy and Administration (MPA-PPA) student, dual specializing in human resources management and management and operations. She currently works for The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as an office manager. She is the 2020-21 Master of Public Administration Student Association (MPASA) President. She is a human resource and management professional who has experience working for several global firms. Evana is also a certified supply chain analyst. She is a founder of an e-commerce brand, which seeks to create social equity for communities around the world. Her hobbies are photography, painting, and traveling. Evana presented gender equity research at the Northeast Conference of Public Administration (NECoPA) and the John Jay College MPA Conference. She has received the BRAVO! Employee Recognition Award, Section for Women in Public Administration (SWPA) Suffrage Award, NECoPA Award, and International Photography Award.