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Mallory Verez is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, but completed her undergrade degree at High Point University in December of 2017. After graduation she returned to the Steel City, eager for some real-world experience. She found it in a service position with Public Allies, where she was placed in an afterschool program focused on youth development. Verez had finished her undergraduate degree knowing that she wanted to continue her studies with the eventual goal of working in neighborhood legal services, but her experiences in the afterschool programs widened her perspective and inspired her to pursue admission into a public administration program as well. Mallory began to see the siloed systems of public service worked more as barriers than channels for underserved demographics. After her year was up, she decided to look for a dual degree program.
Verez is now a full time, on campus dual degree student. As such, her program is divided into four years: a year of the MPA program, two years of the law program, and the final year with a mixture of MPA and law classes. In the fall of 2020, amidst a global pandemic, Verez moved to Chapel Hill and started as a first year MPA student. She felt the general air of uncertainty which permeated the campus that first semester, but more than that she felt an overwhelming sense of community and understanding which her professors extended to her and her fellow cohort members.
“Dr. Berner’s willingness to talk to me about,’ she paused, ‘anything!’ and be ‘someone who was in my corner the whole time was really a lifeline.’”
Verez confessed that she was relieved to begin in the MPA program, owing to the program’s comparatively smaller size to its law counterpart.
Last summer, Verez completed her Professional Work Experience (a requirement and rite of passage for us MPA students), at the Triangle J Council of Government as the housing intern. There, she completed an array of legal research. The experience also introduced her to the wide range of nonprofits in the Triangle Area. She plans on staying in the area after graduation to gain more experience with the myriad interesting and distinctive nonprofits in the Triangle.
When asked about advice for those considering the program, Verez had a simple message.
“Know why you want to be doing [the program]. It is so easy to get lost in the complexities. Don’t let [all the details] pull you [away] from what you want to do.”