Graduate Profile: Ramsey Abdallah (MPA '17)

Hometown: West Orange, NJ
Degree program: Master of Public Administration 

Why did you enroll at SPAA?
I have always been taught by my parents to seek out the highest level of education possible. I had gotten caught up in the web that is life and stepped away from academia to enter the workforce. Luck would have it that I would get another opportunity to fulfill my academic quest. This opportunity was presented to me by my father-in-law, a graduate of SPAA with a 4.0 GPA. He told me that I needed to take the next step in my life and that this is a program that will allow me to help so many. He took me by the hand down to the SPAA office and helped me enroll after talking to me about SPAA for a week, and showing me what kind of impact a degree like this can have on myself, my family, and my community. With the support of My Parents, My Wife, My Kids, and My Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law, I began my new journey!

What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?
My hopes are that I can use this degree in helping me become an agent for change in policy as it relates to government laws and policies. I plan on becoming more effective in helping my Muslim and Palestinian communities understand how to engage in work for progressive change using the proper channels and procedures that many are not aware of to achieve the desired results.

Best moments at Rutgers University-Newark?
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Rutgers, the best moments at Rutgers can be narrowed down to three. First, the day I enrolled - that excited and nervous feeling of entering academia after being out of that world for 13 years not knowing what to expect. Second, the first class I attended - I happened to have my father-in-law as a classmate where we worked together in group projects throughout the semester. Lastly, completing my Capstone project -the feeling of gratefulness, relief, humbleness, and achievement. These moments will forever stand out in my mind because of the feelings attached to them.

Favorite class(es) and professor(s)?
I can honestly say that I loved all my classes and loved the professors in this program and I am grateful for all the knowledge they have bestowed upon me. However, if I have to pick, I must say the following:

  • Dr. [Madinah] Hamidullah, PhD: HR – her strength of knowledge in these subjects inspired me to want to learn more.
  • Rick Thigpen, JD: "Economic Issues in Public Administration" – This man was a wealth of knowledge and facilitated the class in such a way that you really wished it wouldn’t end. He went out of his way to help the students and present diverse information and material to stimulate the students to learn.
  • Dr. [Ariane Chebel] d’Appollonia, PhD: "Administrative Ethics" – By far one of the most knowledgeable, tenacious, and academically & intellectually challenging people I have ever had the privilege of studying under. She challenged you to look beyond the obvious answer and acknowledge the counter arguments to your argument when taking a stance.
  • Mohammad Abbasi, PhD Candidate: "Grant Writing" – made it real, exciting, and brought about a new interest in me through this course and perspectives that I never considered looking at.
  • Dr. [Phil] Nufrio, PhD: "Analytical Methods" – Made me fall in love with statistics, something I never thought anyone could do.
  • Dr. [Alan] Sadovnik, PhD: Capstone Project – Great Mentor and Educator! He made me go beyond the boundaries I set for my research and challenge myself to further develop my research.

Biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was getting myself to re-engage into academia and overcome my doubts about whether or not I would be able to pursue it. My mental state before entering this program made me second guess whether or not I could succeed at the highest level.

Next steps?
I plan on taking my LSAT and applying to law school where I will set my sights on graduating with honors with a JD. I plan on focusing my efforts in the area of constitutional law where I can have the greatest impact on helping the Muslim and Palestinian communities.

Advice to incoming students?
To incoming students, nothing is impossible if you commit to excellence and set that as your goal. I have been able to do this as a husband, father of two beautiful girls, working, and having been away from academia for 13 years. It may sound cliché, but as with everything in life in this program, you get out what you put in. Any doubts, trepidations, or fears you may have or anxiousness, nervousness, or feelings of inadequacy are really nothing more than limiting beliefs. They don’t really exist except in your mind. Take the first step by entering this program and follow through with all that you are and the feeling that awaits you at the end will fill you with satisfaction and joy for the rest of your life. Good Luck!

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