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Ashleigh Martin, BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill




Ashleigh Martin grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will be the fourth generation in her family to work in North Carolina local government. Her father is deputy superintendent of the Street Maintenance Division of Charlotte’s Department of Transportation. “He went in as a sign fabricator 28 years ago and worked his way up,” Ashleigh says. “He is my hero!” Ashleigh’s grandfather helped install the crest in the square in downtown Charlotte. Her great-uncle Tom mowed grass using mules and farm implements and later was the first Charlotte employee to cut grass with a motorized mower. Her great-grandfather helped pave some of the first streets in the city. Ashleigh muses, “Am I destined for public works? Perhaps, but I see myself being comfortable anywhere in a local government setting.”  


Originally Ashleigh planned to attend law school and work as a city attorney.  After gaining experience in the field of law, she decided to refocus her career so that she could still achieve the goal of working in public service. She found that the local government positions that she was most attracted to invited applicants with MPA degrees.  "I decided that I needed an MPA," she said.

“Going to Carolina was a matter of pride and sheer love of the school. I don’t want to say it was Carolina or nowhere, but I didn’t apply anywhere else. I knew the reputation of the School of Government—everyone in local government recognizes the School’s brand and reputation. I wanted to be a part of the best.”


Other than being on Franklin Street in March 2009 to celebrate the Tar Heels’ NCAA basketball championship, Ashleigh says her most rewarding MPA experience so far has been her summer internship with the City of Mount Holly. “The city manager let me experience everything. I created the city’s budget document. I revised their personnel policies. I picked up garbage for a week.” She adds, “I have a  great deal of respect for those guys and the hard work they do everyday.”

Ashleigh says her internship in Mount Holly reaffirmed her interest in a local government career. “Seeing how theory learned in class is actually applied in local government was enlightening. Local government managers deserve a lot of respect for their complicated jobs.”

Ashleigh points to the first year of MPA classes for preparing her for her internship. “Budget forecasting, trend charts, budget documents, personnel policies—I learned so much in the classroom, and I thank the MPA faculty for sharing their knowledge with me.”

After graduation, Ashleigh plans to pursue a position near her hometown. “I hope to locate a job within a one-hour radius of Charlotte,” she says. “I don’t think there is any better way to use my education than to take it back home to the place I am passionate about.”


Ashleigh is the recipient of the 2009 Local Government Scholarship. “Receiving this scholarship has made a tremendous difference for me,” she explains. “It allows me to consider positions based on fit and that will give me the opportunity to build experience without having to be so focused on finances.”

The North Carolina Local Government Scholarship was endowed by Ed Wyatt, a retired North Carolina city manager. It is awarded annually to a second-year UNC-Chapel Hill MPA student who is a North Carolina resident and who has a demonstrated interest in a local government career. For more information about this or other MPA scholarships, contact Susan Lynch, admissions coordinator, at 919.962.0425 or