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The Grad Post Fall 2019, Student Spotlight, Ashley Thornton

Master of Public Administration

What drew you to Georgia Southern for your graduate studies?

I came to Georgia Southern for my undergrad…and just never left! I began working here as a student employee in Eagle Dining Services’ Catering Department and worked my way up to a full-time position after graduation. After a couple years, I was able to change jobs within the University and have now been the Administrative Specialist in the Office of the President for the past three years. The University offers a wonderful Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides a great deal of help for employees pursuing additional education. Without this help, I never would have been able to attend graduate school. I am so thankful to Georgia Southern for that opportunity and for the support I’ve received from my office. I cannot wait to be a Double Eagle next Spring!

What are your Georgia Southern “points of pride?” What is one thing you are most proud of during your time here at Georgia Southern?

One of my biggest points of pride is the connections I’ve made and continue to make here. Since my own educational path was pretty twisty and non-traditional, I’m able to help guide other students and provide advice from a very unique perspective. It is very rare that I walk around campus and don’t see someone that I know, either through work or classes. That’s such a welcoming feeling that has made this place feel like “home” for many years now. I love being part of this community and doing my part (however small it may be) to make others feel that way.

Are you a part of an internship or co-op experience? What are you doing? What are you learning?

As a full-time employee in the public sector, I am considered an “in-service” student in my program, so my every day job resembles an unofficial co-op of sorts. Every single class that I have taken thus far in my program has given me tools and knowledge that I can use in my current career. Being both an employee and a student makes for a truly interesting and productive learning environment (even though it can be very tiring!). I have already experienced many of the things we learn about in class, but my classes go beyond and build upon those experiences. They are teaching me the actual theory and best practices that contribute to the larger picture of how public organizations work as a whole.

How is Georgia Southern preparing you for your future career?

My English undergraduate degree already laid a strong foundation by developing and honing my critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills. These skills will never become obsolete no matter what direction the workforce takes in the future. My graduate program is expanding even more upon that. The M.P.A. program focuses on how to be an effective and efficient manager in the public sector, but this degree also stretches beyond just a job at a public organization. It is all about learning how to be an effective leader in general, how to manage people and resources according to their best interests and assets, and how to build better relationships and better organizations no matter where that might lead you. I’m gaining another invaluable skillset that will guide me in my current job as well as any other career that I decide to pursue in the future.


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