An extensive network of over 16,000 alumni active at all levels of government, private and non-profit sectors, connects students to a vast wealth of collective resources, knowledge, and support. This community is one of SPPD's richest sources of academic distinction–a professional network of industry leaders and professionals ready to help prepare students for 21st-century careers.
Josie Noah, MPA, MPL '09
Commitments Manager, Environment & Energy, Clinton Global Initiative
Before enrolling in USC's MPA program, I had an understanding of the public sector, but more from an international perspective. What USC added was a deep dive into what it meant to be a public servant and the importance of providing opportunities for individuals living in poverty.
I quickly discovered that not only are the professors well-versed in their fields, but they do remarkable research, and they're incredibly engaged with their students.
All of the students came from different backgrounds–science, the political arena, the private sector–yet we all developed a common language and understanding. This shared knowledge facilitated better discussion; we understood the basics, and were able to build on that strong foundation.
Because of my work and active involvement with USC, I was able to earn a postgraduate fellowship at the Clinton Global Initiative, working with the public, private, and non-profit sectors to advance solutions to the global environmental challenges we face.
Clarisse Young, MPA '06
Special Assistant to the Senior Advisor
of Communications and Public Affairs,
US Department of Labor
The USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development helped immerse and transition me into my current job at the US Department of Labor. Every day, I come to work with the mission to serve and protect American workers, prepare them for new and better jobs, and ensure the safety of America's workplaces. SPPD was where I learned how to apply practical leadership skills to be successful in public service and in government. What's also great about USC SPPD is the alumni network all across the country, especially in the Washington DC area where I have continued to build relationships and stay connected to the SPPD community.
Mark Alexander, MPA '90
City Manager, City of La Cañada Flintridge, CA
USC has built a reputation for its commitment to local government and city management specifically. This is why I chose USC to pursue my MPA education.
I appreciate the School's efforts to continually innovate in the way it approaches the teaching of public administration. Its communication with the "real world" in identifying skills needed within the profession and its commitment to advancing interdisciplinary study and directing partnerships with government and private industry enhances the training of our future managers and better prepares them for the challenges that await.
I especially applaud USC for its partnership with the profession in bringing about the City/County Management Fellowship program. This program expands opportunities for students who are serious about careers in city and county management by providing scholarships, professional development and enrichment programming, regular interactions with practicing alum and other practitioners, and mentoring and internship positions. The wholehearted support by the School is truly a testament to the value and commitment USC places on its MPA program and to preparing the next generation of local government administrators.
Erroll Southers, MPA '98
Associate Director of Special Programs, School of Policy, Planning, and Development
Since 2003, Southers has taught a masters-level "Homeland Security and Public Policy" class, which is structured on the contemporary discourse of terrorism post-September 11. He is also the associate director of the USC Homeland Security Center for Risk Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), a national interdisciplinary research facility focused on economic and risk analysis of the U.S. Furthermore, Southers is a founding member and past president of the SPPD Alumni Association.
"When it comes to my relationship with USC, it's all about giving back," he said. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for this school and this university. I'm just incredibly grateful to be involved."
Paul Chabot, MPA '99
President and CEO, Chabot Strategies, LLC; LT Commander/Intelligence Officer, U.S. Navy
The MPA program exceeded my expectations. The faculty was always there to provide guidance and support. The program provided me a wide array of skill sets that I can immediately apply to almost any field. What I found unique about USC was its mentorship of the program. Through the mentorship program, I was able to expand my network of connections, which helped me set my sights on a successful career path in government.
Derek J. Larsen, MPA '07
Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting
The people made this program unique–I was impressed with the caliber of the students from the beginning, until the very end. They added so much to the curriculum, the discussions within the classroom, and the student organizations. To this day, I continue to be very good friends with and learn from them.
My degree was essential to where I am today. What I learned at USC has given me the capabilities to succeed in my position, and provide the best possible service to my clients. I'm confident the skills I have gained, and the relationships that I have built during my time at USC, will help allow me to succeed in other future positions in my career.
Erika Heeb, MPA '07
Director of Development, Unite-LA
I knew that I really wanted to be in a position to think strategically for organizations–to help organizations move forward, to be an advocate, to understand best practices from business and the government, and effectively apply them in a managerial role. That was my goal, and I sought out a lot of other reputable programs to seek out that goal. However, USC became very attractive to me. USC's a big school too, but it didn't FEEL big. At USC, I felt like people were excited to be there and excited that I was there. They got to know me–everyone from staff to my professors to my colleagues. We all worked together and applied our course concepts to strategic, real-world discussions and assignments.
Julayne Virgil, MPA '07
Managing Director, Chicago at Education Pioneers
I decided on USC's program because it offered everything I was looking for — the opportunity to study in a cross-disciplinary environment that leverages skills and experiences from peers from a variety of other disciplines. I thought that was just a fantastic experience.
It's also the network that makes the program unique. The network is so committed to really connecting people–learning what they're doing and connecting them with other people who can help and influence their work. And that's not something that you see everywhere. My peers were so smart and brought so much to the table; I not only got to learn from classes, I got to learn from them.
Kate Kuykendall, MPA '08
Public Affairs, Peace Corps
I was interested in a career with the federal government, and that's why I pursued the public administration degree. I was looking for a background and understanding of the way government works and how public management evolves. The coursework helped me get my current job–which I actually got before I graduated.
People often don't understand the extent to which SPPD offers resources for those interested in non-profit careers. A lot of the people are really interested in nonprofit management, and at first, shy away from a public administration degree, because they think it's more government-focused. SPPD gives the necessary skills and experiences to people who are interested in nonprofit management.
However, what stood out the most for me, were my classmates. I was really impressed with the high caliber of students and the diverse range of experiences that they came from, whether in the non-profit, public, or private sector. They were mostly public-service-minded individuals, much like myself, and also racially diverse, coming from all around the country. The professors are important in the program, but the reality is that you spend more time with your classmates. There is a lot of opportunity to work on group projects, and make friends. We are still very close, and I feel like I learned a lot from them.