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SPAA Fall 2020 Welcome Back Event Inaugurates the 2020-2021 Cohort of SPAA Ambassadors

SPAA Welcome Back Event Fall 2020

SPAA hosted its Fall 2020 Welcome Back event virtually on Sept. 17. Dean Charles Menifield started the evening by welcoming students, faculty, and staff into a new semester and assured everyone that, even though SPAA has gone virtual this semester, its commitment towards quality education still holds irrespective of it being remote. This fall, SPAA has taken steps to ensure that the virtual semester is effective and seamless for students. SPAA faculty and staff have been taking training courses over the summer to work out how the courses can be taught virtually with the same rigor and intellectual discussion.

Dean Menifield also welcomed three new faculty members to SPAA. Dr. Leonor Camarena and Dr. Basil Smikle, who joined in Fall 2020 as an assistant professor and assistant teaching professor respectively, and Dr. Jihye Jung who will be joining as an assistant teaching professor in Spring 2021.

The welcome event then moved on to greetings and updates by individual academic and department directors with Dr. Lindsey McDougle, Dr. Rachel Emas, and Dr. Yahong Zhang, directors of the BA, MPA, and PhD programs, respectively, and Aaron Gibbs, associate dean of student and academic services speaking.

This year's welcome event also served as an inaugural event for the first-ever cohort of the SPAA Student Ambassador Program. EMPA student Samantha Minchello, one of the 2020-2021 SPAA Ambassadors, presented the vision of the ambassador program and its core purpose. She explained the ambassadors' plan to work with students across different programs and the faculty and staff to ensure all their voices are heard and expand SPAA's vision and reach to future students.

After the initial remarks, the participants were divided into breakout rooms to get to know each other better and do a virtual check-in on how everyone has been doing during this pandemic and how they have grown as public servants.

Finally, Dean Menifield and Director Stroye concluded the event with their closing remarks and announced to look out for future events being held by SPAA and the SPAA Ambassadors.

For more information about SPAA upcoming events, visit:

For more information about the SPAA Student Ambassador Program, visit:

To meet the inaugural cohort of SPAA Ambassadors, visit: