This post was written by Maxwell student, Mark Temnycky, who has recently had an article published by the EUobserver. The EUobserver is the second most read EU-related news source by journalists after the Financial Times.
When I enrolled in the Maxwell School in June 2015 I was very excited and I wanted to make the most of the two-year public administration and international relations graduate program. During my first year I had a unique opportunity – I had an op-ed on Ukraine published in Forbes. After sharing this exciting news with family, friends, faculty, and staff, I made a personal goal: before graduating in June 2017 I wanted to write another article and have it published.
For several months I wrote other op-ed pieces. These topics ranged from the implications of the ‘Brexit’ decision on Ukraine’s bid for EU membership, my experience abroad working as a parliamentary trainee for Ukrainian Parliament, and future challenges that this Eastern European state may face in 2017. I submitted them as op-ed pieces to various news outlets, yet they were unsuccessful.
I did not let this rejection discourage me, and in January 2017 I came across a new topic: Ukraine’s IT sector. After spending a lot of time researching this industry and learning about Ukraine’s struggle for EU membership, I decided to write an article on how Ukraine’s high quality, rapidly developing IT sector can be of great benefit to Europe and facilitate European integration for this former Soviet state. The end result? It was published in EUobserver.
Rejection is quite frequent with writing op-ed pieces as news agencies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces every day from all over the world. I did not let this discourage me. I am very thankful for these opportunities and have learned an important less during my time at the Maxwell School. I strongly believe that if you put your mind towards something, and if you try hard enough, you might just get what you want. The end result is worth it.
As a native Californian, Syracuse has provided me with many new experiences since I arrived in July. I was born and raised in Southern California where it is summer about 8 months out of the year.We have palm trees and cacti in our backyards, with snow caped mountains just 30 minutes away. I had never been in weather below 20 degrees before I visited Syracuse in April and I had to ask my roommates for help when buying winter gear. During this time, I have found that it can be calming to shovel snow and scrap ice off of car windows; I even enjoy it sometimes. Weather might seem like a silly concern, but it can be very difficult for some people to acclimate to when it is such a drastic change. I was concerned about the lack of sun Syracuse gets during the winter months and if it would have an effect on my attitude and behavior. Luckily, I have been surviving the snowy days and I try to enjoy the beautiful snow while I can! I love California and I hope to go back after graduation, but first I have to make it through the upcoming winter months.
The weather is not the only new experience for me this year. My undergraduate university was only 15 minutes away from my house, so in order to save my family and myself some money, I decided to commute to school all four years. There were challenging times being an off campus student, but looking back at it now, I wouldn’t change a thing. With that being said, this year has been the first time in my life where I have lived on my own. Not only was it the first time being on my own, I also decided I would move across the entire country! There were multiple times leading up to my move to Syracuse, and even during the first few months here, where I seriously questioned what in the world I was thinking. I love my family; I love hanging out with them and I enjoy our weekly gatherings. I wasn’t ready to leave the pets in my family or my new baby cousins that I already loved so much. I had to constantly remind myself that I’m so fortunate to even have this opportunity to get an amazing education and to learn from some of the brightest minds in the field of Public Administration. I couldn’t let my fear of being on my own get in the way of this.
Six months into the program and I am still not 100% used to being this far from my entire family. I text my mom and dad every day, my sister has been my “best friend” on Snapchat since the day I came back from winter break, and sometimes my family will FaceTime me just so I can see my dog! I haven’t let my busy schedule and different time zone completely get in the way of communicating with my family. Although this level of communication may seem a bit excessive, it has really helped me cope with moving so far away from home. In my experience, I have found that it is important to talk to your loved ones, but it is equally important to live in the moment and enjoy the short time we have at Maxwell and in Syracuse.
I would be lying if I said this transition was easy. Fortunately, I have two wonderful roommates that have made this experience better than I could have ever imagined. Not only did they help me survive economics and statistics, they have also helped create a home for me in Syracuse. When I first moved here, I called my house “the place I’m living for a year”; I refused to call it home because quite frankly, it did not feel like home. It wasn’t the home I grew up in for 17 years, it wasn’t my room with all my memories displayed on the shelves, and it wasn’t the bed that had a special blanket laid on top for my dog. When I went back to California for winter break, I found myself calling Syracuse my “other home”. This may seem like nothing, but it sure did mean a lot to me. The last six months have taught me that “home” is what you make it. Of course my real home will always be in Highland, California, but Syracuse has given me a special kind of home. I have friends that I adore here and a house that has its quirks but still gives me a sense of comfort every day after school. That house on Broad Street is more than just the place I’m living for a year; it is the place where many memories have been made and it will be a part of one of the most significant years of my life. Whether it is in the desert of California or the tundra of New York, it is important to remember that happiness doesn’t have just one address!
This day and age, many students have become all too familiar with the financial aid offices at our institutions and the studentloans.gov website. During my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to receive a merit-based scholarship. Unfortunately, that was not enough to cover my private-liberal arts school tuition that continued to rise all four years of undergrad. So what do you do next? If you are like me, you navigate your way through the studentloans.gov website and prepare to accept the student loan debt you will face after completing your studies.
Fortunately for us here at Maxwell, we have a phenomenal Office of Financial Literacy that make paying off your student loans more understandable and less worrisome! On November 10th, the Office of Financial Literacy conducted a workshop titled “Taking Action on Student Loans”. Derek Brainard, who is the representative from the office, discussed the type of loans that are offered for students and the loans that they can request. Additionally, there was discussion of repayment plan options that students can choose from and the pros and cons of each plan. One of the most relevant topics that came up in the workshop was the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The system that is in place states that the federal loans you received throughout college (undergraduate and graduate) will be forgiven and will not be taxed after working 120 months in a public service career, as long as your employer qualifies as a public service.
One of the most helpful parts for me during this workshop was the discussion about repayment plans. As I end my educational career in June, it is time for me to start “adulting” and make payments on my loans. I had already chosen a repayment plan after I graduated from my undergraduate institution without doing much research on how the plan would work. After the workshop, I knew I had to change my repayment plan to the one that worked best for me and made the most sense for my future career path, rather than which one sounded easier. There are different repayment plans that differ in the amount you pay and how long it takes to completely pay off your loans. Take a look here! https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/repaymentEstimator.action
If you take a look at 2015 statistics, you will see that a majority of our graduates go in to some form of public service after their time at Maxwell. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness opportunity is especially appealing to students like us who plan on making a career out of public service, whether it is at the federal or local level of government or even a non-profit/NGO work. If you are interested in learning more about the PSLF, visit studentaid.ed.gov.
If you have any questions regarding financial aid, student loans, or repayment plans, you can reach the Office of Financial Aid at (315) 443-1513 or email them at financialaid.syr.edu.