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SPAA Graduate Profile: Samantha Minchello (EMPA'21)

Samantha Minchello (EMPA'21)

Full Name: Samantha Minchello 
Age:  30 
Hometown:  Freehold, NJ 
Degree Program: Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) 
Graduation Year: 2021

Why did you enroll at SPAA?
I am a working wife and mother, so flexibility was incredibly important to me when choosing a master's program. I always wanted to obtain my master's but after undergraduate study, life and work got in the way. As a returning student after many years, I was nervous about my ability to complete rigorous coursework while juggling work and a family. However, both the administration and professors were incredible and were invested in my success. I could not be happier that I enrolled in SPAA's EMPA program.

What do you hope to accomplish with your degree? 
With this degree, I hope to take what I have learned, the incredible network of individuals that I have met at Rutgers, and my experience to advance my career in government and politics. My goals are to serve either as an elected official or in government administration serving the public at a local, county, or state level.

Favorite SPAA memory?
During my time at SPAA, I had the opportunity to serve as a SPAA Student Ambassador. This leadership opportunity gave me the space to utilize some of the skills that I was learning in my courses and apply them in a way that was beneficial to the school. Serving with this incredibly talented, diverse, and powerful group of students was an absolute honor. During this time, we were also offered the opportunity for personal professional development with industry professionals which was an invaluable aspect of the ambassador program.

Biggest challenge(s)? 
Over the course of our two-year EMPA program, we have been living through a global pandemic for a year and a half of it. Adding this additional uncertainty and the ever-changing work and school schedules was certainly challenging. Yet again, however, every single professor I had during this time was truly concerned, not only about our ability to complete our assignments but about our mental health and how we were doing outside of school. They were understanding about the extenuating circumstances of our current situation.

Next steps?
I believe in public service. In whatever position I hold, I want to ensure that I am both serving the public and serving as a role model for young women interested in working in politics. Having powerful women role models has been critical in my life and I hope to be that for a younger generation of women.

Advice to incoming students? 
Use this opportunity while you are in school to soak up all the advice and wisdom that the professors, administration, and any guest speakers are willing to give you. Do not be afraid to follow up and create relationships. This is the start of your network which will be invaluable to you throughout your career. Nurture relationships and talk to everyone.