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SPAA Graduate Profile: Andrew Moreira (MPA'23)

Andrew Moreira (MPA'23)

Name: Andrew Moreira 
Age: 26 
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
SPAA MPA Grad Month/Year: May 2023 
MPA Concentration(s): Leadership of Public Organizations and Nonprofit Management
Current Position: Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development at Ringling College of Art and Design 

Why did you enroll at SPAA?
I decided to join the SPAA community because I wanted to build my leadership skills to grow personally and professionally. After learning more about the community at SPAA, I appreciated the supportive and collaborative environment within the classrooms as it played a big part in my growth over the last few years. In the end, I cherish the great connections I've made with fellow classmates and professors. 

What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?
I hope to see greater and healthier work-life balance in society by starting with myself as a leader. The last few years have been extremely challenging for many of us, so mental health is a topic that should be addressed in all aspects of life, including work. Starting a completely new journey with a new role in another state, I challenge myself every day to think about work-life balance through a different lens. I know I can achieve my highest potential as a professional when I also take care of my well-being, and I hope I can inspire others too. 
Focusing on the topics addressed within my capstone regarding the four-day workweek, mental health days, and remote work, I am learning how these strategies can be implemented and normalized as successful tools to achieve better work-life balance. It is something that will take time to improve, but taking steps each day is what matters. 

Favorite SPAA memory and/or most meaningful experience at SPAA?
Definitely a meaningful experience at SPAA has been spending the first half of the program completely virtual due to the pandemic. I remember during those early Zoom days when there were a lot more technical difficulties and people forgetting to mute their lines, with those awkward moments when the professor didn’t know how to respond and other students would jump in to assist.  Even when I started the program completely virtual, I felt the sense of community at SPAA that I hope to build wherever I end up within my professional journey.   
I’ve also appreciated how SPAA has allowed me to pursue a hybrid program as an “on-campus student.” During my final semester, my academic timeline was a bit chaotic as I had to move from New Jersey to Florida a couple of weeks into the fall semester. On top of that, it was the semester I was taking my capstone course. I’m fortunate to have planned in advance to ease the transition, and I appreciate having been able to take additional virtual classes as I went to pursue new professional and personal endeavors. 

Biggest challenge(s)?
I think the biggest challenge I endured while at SPAA was having to balance the academic curriculum with professional responsibilities, on top of dealing with a global pandemic. I started my journey with SPAA in the fall of 2020 when we were still dealing with a lot of the unpredictability and uncertainty in the world, and my mental health wasn't at its best. Starting off asynchronously definitely helped mitigate some of the work-life balance issues, especially when I used to work within the public health field.   

Next steps?
My next steps are to continue growing as a leader and keep building initiatives that better support work-life balance. My roots in Florida are still relatively new, and I hope to continue building community within the spaces that I’m in. Working with the students and colleagues at the Ringling College of Art and Design has been an amazing experience thus far, and I look forward to continuing my work with future leaders and visionaries being someone who is passionate about mental health and a better well-being. There exists a society where work-life balance is more sustainable and healthy; we just have to keep learning from and supporting each other along the way. 

Advice to incoming students?
Take care of your mental health and well-being. Your academics and professional journey are absolutely important, but not as important as your personal journey with how you are doing.  You should celebrate your successes along the way, and being a part of SPAA is a huge accomplishment to be proud of. 
Don’t be afraid to know your own limits and when you are about to reach them, and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you need help along the way. SPAA has been an accommodating and welcoming community, and the professors were very supportive in making sure the students succeed.