Online student goes from undergrad to online MPA to local government

Written by Cara Robinson

My name is Marshall Grayson and I am currently completing my third semester in the UNC MPA online program. I have really enjoyed the program so far and cannot wait to continue my studies throughout the next year. While I am open to working in a variety of public sector environments, I am most interested in the communications, management, and budget fields. I am currently a full-time student, but I am excited to share that I will serve as the LEAD for NC Fellow in the Town of Hillsborough’s Finance and Budget Department starting in August! I cannot wait to get started, and I look forward to the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in Hillsborough. 

I have always been interested in a public sector career path, specifically looking to work in the local government field. My local government goals led me to begin my MPA last August, directly out of undergrad at Elon University. I started at Elon in 2019, meaning my freshman spring and “college experience” as a whole was largely cut short due to the pandemic. After moving online at the end of my freshman year, I decided to take an optional remote sophomore year as well due to family concerns. This time in online education helped me develop a greater respect for digital communications and remote/hybrid systems. I honestly believe that without this meaningful time, I would not be in the online MPA program today! While this was a difficult experience to work through, it gave me more time with my family, provided stronger time-management skills, and helped me to fully focus on my undergraduate studies, allowing me to graduate with three degrees in Strategic Communications, Policy Studies, and Political Science in just three years!

            I am so thankful for the great connections I have made throughout the MPA program so far. I have had classes with so many different professionals from around the world with a variety of backgrounds, skills, perspectives, etc. I have greatly enjoyed the diversity of experiences that the UNC MPA program has given me in just the last year. Classes alongside meaningful work opportunities, like my PWE this summer, have provided me with a good foundation for a future public sector career. I am currently completing an internship with the NC Association of Fire Chiefs, helping research fire tax districts throughout all 100 NC counties. As I work through my third semester and my PWE, I am excited to share more with you about all that I have learned and how these experiences impact what public service means to me. 

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