Student Life in Maxwell
My name is Liz Giron, and I am a one-year MPA student. I grew up in Peru, a culturally and geographically diverse nation, where I majored in Economics in my home city, Lima. Prior to Maxwell, I devoted my career on social policy design and evaluation. I served as an Evaluation Specialist at World Vision International in Peru, as a social affairs specialist at the Peruvian Ministry of Economics and Finance, and as social protection advisor for Latin America at the German Cooperation (GIZ). After eight years of work, I decided to follow my passion for designing social protection schemes, and innovative economic inclusion programs to transform economic growth in wellbeing and social development for the poor. With this goal in mind, I choose Maxwell to make myself the most impact, especially in the international development arena. This renowned school offered me both managerial and strong analytical skills. However, I have to admit that I enrolled with some doubt. Feeling I had grown much during the last working years, I was concerned that a master’s degree might prove to be too academic and impractical insights. Actually, the MPA has far exceeded my expectations!!!
The adventure began!
A day just like today 3 months ago, I arrived at Syracuse in a UHL van that my husband drove from Boston to here. Two days after, I was starting the Summer term. Since that moment, I felt completely grateful for the opportunity to be here. Academically, our first week in the School attending the Public Administration Colloquium was totally revealing. I got confident that the MPA curricula have a practical orientation to help us developing key skills to lead, solve problems, and make decisions in public settings. I also realized how important will be our role to connect well supported technical proposals with people’s voices. Likewise, I learnt one of the most important lessons for my career as public servant “there is never a single way to solve a problem”. Even thought, it sounds evident, when you design a proposal to resolve a public problem, it is common to defend what you think it is the best option. Thus, many times I got frustrated when the more “technically correct option” that my team developed was not implemented. During the summer colloquium, I learnt that we can get as many different proposals as the number of teams we can conform. Thus, what it is really important, as prof. Bifulco said, it is always to go many steps ahead with our solutions.
Likewise, throughout the summer, meeting our core course professors and all sharing time with all of you made me to understand that the people “The Maxwell Mafia” is the most valuable resource in the School. The faculty are authorities in their fields, and they have demonstrated their personal commitment with our learning process, which goes beyond their responsibility as professors. Likewise, I felt inspired and enriched in my daily basis for your diverse perspectives and skills, your service vocation and passion to build a better society. Personally, I feel that you became my Maxwell family. During the summer, we shared everything together, long hours solving our budgeting exercises, writing memos, debating the big questions on democracy, failures and successes, parties, brunches and trips. Just to give an example, we had an incredibly Peruvian Independent Day Party where instead of feeling nostalgia for not being in my country, your cheerfulness for knowing my culture and celebrate the diversity made me feel at home.
Making the decision to come to grad school is not always an easy one. It involves taking a break from an ascending career, and in the case of international students, it can involve moving far away from our comfortable zone. However, now I am confident that for all of us this will be an unforgettable year and a life changing experience!!!