Anlly Palacios is a second-year CIPA student who is concentrating her studies on Social Policy.
In a Public Administration graduate program, one would think that a mandated course for all CIPA students would be PADM 5110 (Public Administration). However, CIPA is flexible enough that students might pass up this class for other options that sound more intriguing or nuanced. Or, students might avoid this course all together due to its rigorous coursework and bountiful readings. I, for one, was nervous about enrolling in it, since I knew it would require weekly memos, long articles, and a final group presentation—which sounded overwhelming.
Pushing my fears aside, I enrolled in the Public Administration course. My summer internship supervisor had encouraged me to improve both my writing and presentation skills and, as a result, I decided to take courses that would challenge me in those problem areas. PADM 5110 fit the bill.
The first few weeks of this class were nerve wracking. I was immediately intimidated by the volume of readings we were assigned and the quality of memos we were required to produce every week. In fact, I spent a lot of time perfecting my memos and integrating class readings since the professor, CIPA Executive Director Thomas O’Toole, would dissect them and pinpoint all the errors. Every missed comma, misspelled word, or incorrect phrase warranted deductions from the grade.
At times, it seemed my memos would never receive a perfect grade and I remember thinking, “then what is the point in trying so hard?” Almost as a response, Professor O’Toole explained the importance of achieving perfection in the public sector during the very next class. He explained that as future public servants, every detail of our work will be scrutinized by peers and constituents, often in an attempt to harm our credibility or our tenure as public figures. Thus, it is important that we constantly revise our work in an effort to avoid providing naysayers a tool to discount our contributions.
This was just one of many lessons that I learned from PADM 5110. And I finally realized why my supervisor suggested that I improve my writing and presentation skills! I encourage everyone to take this class!