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SPAA Graduate Profile: Ana Olivera (BA'21)

Ana Olivera (BA'21)

Full Name: Ana Karina Olivera
Age: 22
Hometown: West Orange, NJ
Degree Program: 5-Year Dual Bachelor’s Degree/Master of Public Administration Degree
Graduation Year: 2021 

Why did you enroll at SPAA?
SPAA, in my eyes, has always been a tight-knit community that supports its students in a holistic way allowing them to grow and flourish through its guidance. Before I entered SPAA, I always admired the administrators I met and the professors I had within the community for their intelligence and empathy towards their students. After taking my introductory level course in SPAA and understanding the importance of public administration and the endless opportunities that come with that degree, I decided to begin my journey to enroll at SPAA. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because I love what I do now and there is so much more I am equipped to do thanks to this degree and the SPAA community that guided me.  

What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?
My bachelor's degree in public and nonprofit administration has already opened so many doors of possibilities for growing my career. I hope to accomplish the unimaginable with my degrees including gaining a diverse scope of experience that will aid me in establishing my own nonprofit organization. The ultimate goals for me since entering college have always been to continue to gain knowledge, and understanding my place in this world while uplifting my community simultaneously.   

Favorite SPAA memory?
One of my all time favorite SPAA memories has to be one of the many meetings I have had with Dean Aaron Gibbs. Prior to understanding my love for growing knowledge, I had an honest conversation with him about what I want to do with my life and he inspired me to push myself beyond my comfort zone. The conversation lasted no longer than 30 minutes but ended up impacting my life forever. I now hold myself to a higher standard of success because I know I have the skills to get there. If it wasn’t for that meeting, I would have never begun to think about the limitless possibilities.  

Biggest challenge(s)?
I would say one of the biggest challenges has been learning new theories and concepts that explain the way the world works. I pride myself on building off my current knowledge level to learn more about so many different topics in the world, but it is not a smooth journey. The thing about learning new theories and concepts is that it revolutionizes your current line of thinking, which brings about change. Change is hard as is, let alone completely changing your perception on a certain topic, therefore it was difficult to navigate. One thing that I have been doing that eased the process of learning was being gentle with myself on my learning process as well as giving myself time to limit the stress. Though procrastination is best friends with undergraduate students, learning your own boundaries and mental capacity pushes you to create more time for the learning process.  

Next steps?
The limit is none! I plan to finish the accelerated program and earn my masters in 2022, after which I plan to pursue a PhD in public policy and move away from my hometown to continue my academic journey. Along the way, I plan on interning or working at Planned Parenthood to fulfill a goal of mine from high school. It is only up from here!

Advice to incoming students? 
Enjoy the little things! One of the biggest pieces of advice I received in my undergraduate career was to enjoy the sunny days, the moments of clarity, and the people around you because moments do not last forever but memories do. As a first-generation Latinx college student, there are many pressures placed on me and my success, but I still continue to enjoy the windy nights and the blooming trees near Dana Library.