Meet some of our new online MPA students

This Fall we welcomed 29 new students into the online format of our MPA.  They come from different geographic regions, bring varied interests and experiences, and we are so happy they chose us.  Read about 3 of them here!


Allison (Allie Omens)

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Alma mater: UNC-Chapel Hill
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy

Where were you before you joined the MPA program? 

I attend the online MPA@UNC program from Nashville, Tennessee where I lead education and outreach efforts for Metro Nashville Waste Services, a division of metropolitan government. I develop waste reduction programs and promote resilient waste, recycling, and composting collection for Nashville residents.  

I was born and raised in San Diego, California and I attribute my passion for local environmental regulation from growing up surrounded by these policies in my own community. I took this passion with me to Chapel Hill when I attended Carolina for my undergraduate studies in Public Policy and Environmental Studies. I would not be where I am without the expertise and guidance from UNC Public Policy faculty, and I am thrilled to be returning virtually to Carolina to further my skills for public service. 

What are your areas of interest in the program? 

I was drawn to the MPA@UNC program because of its clear focus on building public service leaders. I have already enjoyed meeting fellow public servants in my first semester classes – some of my classmates are city planners, librarians, civil affairs officers, municipal information technology managers, and elected officials. I enjoy opportunities to get to know my classmates and learn from their specialized experiences within public service. 

I also plan to concentrate in Local Government, which includes coursework such as City and County Management, Productivity Improvement in Local Government, and Governmental and other Nonprofit Accounting and Reporting. I look forward to learning a deeper understanding of local government structure and function through this coursework.

Why did you decide to get your MPA at UNC? 

Through my combination of undergraduate and professional work experience in waste reduction, I envision a career path for myself championing solid waste regulation to serve communities across the United States. The MPA@UNC curriculum provides the academic and public service framework that will position me for greater professional success in this field.  

It is an honor to be furthering my public administration education at my alma mater and the country’s first public university. I value that Carolina faculty are committed to understanding and improving government. 

Justin Jackson

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Alma mater: Hampton University
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Finance

Where were you before you joined the MPA program? 

Before I joined the MPA program I was doing a few things. First, I am currently a Bank Examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Second, I am a JV Football Coach at Glen Allen High School.  For me this is my day-to-day life, and those two roles definitely keep me busy.  

What are your areas of interest in the program? 

There are many things about the program that interest me but so far my intro to public administration course has kept my attention the most. To see the connection between how governments interact with each other has super interesting and has opened my eyes to the roles we can play in public administration. 


Why did you decide to get your MPA at UNC? 

I decided to get my MPA from UNC because I have always wanted to be a Tarheel. My parents used to bring to the football games as a kid and I loved the Tarheel spirit. In addition to that, my mentor at the Federal Reserve went through the MPA program here and loved it! So I truly only had one option.  


Kajal Ravani

Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan
Alma mater: Michigan State University
Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Social Relations and Policy

Where were you before you joined the MPA program? 

I graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in Social Relations and Public Policy. I then began working at a high school in Detroit through the College Advising Corps, an AmeriCorps program. After my AmeriCorps service ended, I moved to Washington, DC, where I began working in program operations at the Relay Graduate School of Education—a nonprofit institution of higher education that provides a variety of professional development programs to teachers and school leaders across the country. I now live back home in Metro Detroit. 

What are your areas of interest in the program? 

I have greatly enjoyed the trajectory of my career thus far, working in direct community outreach, program operations, and partnership development. I am eager to get better at the work that I have been doing and to learn how to be a stronger leader at public service institutions. The MPA@UNC covers topics that I am interested in—for example, how can I be a strong organizational leader, particularly in the nonprofit space? How can I better collect, interpret, and react to data? How can I be a good steward of public dollars? 

Why did you decide to get your MPA at UNC? 

The MPA@UNC was my top choice when looking at graduate programs. This program is offered online, which would allow me to stay in Michigan, stay in my current role, and ensure a strong alumni network both in and out of North Carolina. The interactive structure of the program ensures that I will have the opportunity to engage in the material, not just complete asynchronous assignments. Finally, I was excited at the opportunity to visit campus and meet fellow students at an Immersion weekend on campus. 


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