EMPA Graduate Experience
Husband and Wife Team: Rutgers EMPA alums - see the story!
Chante’ Gunter is Administrative Analyst with the Office of Training and Professional Development Center in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. Looking to advance professionally, she enrolled in the Executive MPA (EMPA) Program in 2013. “My colleagues admire my achievement, “ said Gunter, who noted that advanced degrees are valued in her department.
Ms. Gunter was in the 5th cohort of the EMPA program alongside other students who worked in a range of areas including the state agencies and county and non profit organizations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania State, among others. Reflecting upon her experience in the cohort, she states, “Working full-time as a professional, attending school part-time, along with attending to family needs could be overwhelming.” Like others in the program before her, the cohort became her support system.
Going back to school to earn a masters degree can be challenging for many professionals. But not Chante’. “I was out of school for over 20 years, so it was an adjustment in the beginning,” said Chante’, adding that the cohort model of the program was key in making her decision to return to school. She adds, “Being in a cohort, made us supportive of one another and assisted us with staying on top of key assignments. We became a family! We encouraged each other during the rough times, family incidents, tough assignments, and ensured we all graduated on time!” However, her classmates not only made her experience positive — so did her family and instructors. With the support of many, Chante’ graduated in May 2015 with honors.
In May 2013, Greg Rappaport, a supervisor with the N.J. Division of Child Protection and Permanency, completed his Rutgers EMPA degree along with his classmates who started together in spring 2011. A father of three, Greg sought a program that would enable him to balance his work and personal life. "It provided me with both an opportunity to improve my skills and the flexibility to continue working alongside my family responsibilities." He especially liked the cohort model, which connected him with other professionals like himself. "My cohort was my second family. After two years and unbelievably hard work, my fellow classmates are not only graduate students, but friends and professional allies for life." Greg says: "Rutgers has provided me with indispensable knowledge, skills and abilities that help me in my current supervisor role and will make me more marketable in the future."
Mike Tracy has been working his way ‘up the ladder’ at the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden Vicinage, for the past 12 years. A 2013 graduate of the EMPA program, Mike moved into the Operations Division Manager position in 2014. As a result of completing the program, Mike believes that his education made him more driven and prepared in his pursuits to advance in his career at the judiciary.
“Working in the public sector, I wanted to pursue an advanced degree in public administration to enhance skills that would make me a more competitive candidate for advancement within my organization,” says Mike of his experience in the EMPA program. A member of the 2nd cohort of the Rutgers South Jersey program, he learned the value of earning a masters degree alongside 10 other professionals who became his support system throughout. He added, “Advancing through coursework with the same peers made the entire experience more rewarding. I looked forward to attending class each week. We quickly formed a bond among classmates that continued well after the program ended.” Mike is proud to be among the successful alumni of the EMPA program.
Like many of his classmates, Mike was concerned about returning to school. He graduated with his bachelors degree ten years earlier, so the idea of pursuing a master degree while working full-time and managing family responsibilities greatly concerned him. However, Mike was proactive in addressing his apprehensions and spoke to department faculty in the program before applying. “We reviewed my background as well as my goals, and I felt confident that the entering the program would be a great fit. Once I completed the first semester, I was confident that I would be able to complete the coursework at the level of my expectations,” reflected Mike. He also found that the hybrid format of the program was helpful in managing his time. He commented, “As a working parent, attending night classes would have been a sacrifice to my family time. The hybrid format allowed me to pursue my goal of completing my degree while minimizing time away from my family.”
When asked if he had any advice for prospective students considering the EMPA Program, Mike advised, “Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you fully commit, you will have a rewarding experience and will be proud of what you accomplished.”
Mini-Master of Public Administration™ Experience
Thomas Crownover, Attorney At Law, completed the Rutgers Mini-Master of Public AdministrationTM program in Fall, 2013. "I became interested in the Rutgers Mini-MPA working in municipal government in Metuchen, producing a task force evaluation of the Plainfield Municipal Utility Authority and working on a transition team for Plainfield's new mayor. The Rutgers five day program was a modest imposition on my schedule and provided valuable information including self evaluation of communication skills and emotional intelligence; intergovernmental relationships and tax revenue and spending trends, while examining 10 separate subjects. Each of the instructors brought enthusiasm and practical knowledge of their material and worked well with our class of bright, articulate yet sometimes zany members. I strongly recommend this program for anyone involved in local government with a desire to be more knowledgeable and effective. We had the unique pride in a member of our class, Carmelo Garcia, being elected to the New Jersey Assembly during our program. I believe each of our students not only enjoyed the collegial atmosphere cultivated by Rutgers but will be able to apply the experience and knowledge gained for the benefit of their employers and communities."
In Spring 2013, Michael A. Saraceni, Executive Director, Merchantville - Pennsauken Water Commission, completed the Rutgers Mini-Master of Public Administration™program. Michael said: "...The program was well-organized..., ...on target and represented the "meat and potatoes" of what needed to be presented and discussed. I gained significant insight and a more thorough working knowledge of how my agency fits into the system along with practical applications that can be immediately adopted and shared organizationally. I have found that the instructors were experienced and well-versed in their respective areas of expertise, adding wisdom and credibility to their materials. The variety of delivery formats produced an informative, interesting and beneficial learning experience for all participants. While I have participated in other leadership programs from Rutgers, without disappointment, this program has been the most beneficial to me in my role. I have recommended to my superiors that this be a required level of development for all department heads and to those pursuing advancement to the department head level...."
Katherine Abbott, Chatham Township Committee, also completed the program in Spring, 2013, and said: "I thought the Rutgers Mini-MPA program was a valuable use of my time as an elected official. The experts who taught the classes discussed real issues in NJ municipal government. They keep the focus on how things should be. The Mini-MPA is also a good way to get to know people who run other towns. In fact, I heard classmates' perspective on their municipal job more honestly than I could from someone who is employed in my own municipality. "
Congratulations to the Rutgers Mini-MPA Graduates!
Spring 2015 Mini-MPA™ graduates
Fall 2014 Mini-MPA™ graduates
Spring 2014 Mini-MPA™ graduates
Fall 2013 Mini-MPA™ Program graduates
Some of the students shown here celebrating the last day - with a cake to congratulate Assemblyman-elect Carmelo Garcia!
...and working in small groups on cases...