MPA Scholarship Recipients
Congratulations to our MPA Alumni Scholarship Award winners!
Thanks to the generosity of the PA Alumni Society Scholarship Endowment, we were able to offer two scholarships this year to Sydney Bezanson and Ian Johnson. These students are recognized for their excellence in public administration, and we look forward to seeing all that they achieve in their future endeavors.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Boone, North Carolina
Tell us about your background.
I attended Western Carolina for my first two years of undergrad. I then transferred to UNC Charlotte for the experience of a larger university. I graduated with my bachelor’s from UNC Charlotte in 2020. In my senior year, I developed interests related to public administration through some of my political science and policy courses.
What was your experience in your internships?
My first internship was in the spring of 2022 with the Wake County Budget and Management Services Office. This internship sparked my interest in budgeting and financial analysis. I was able to work with and meet a great team of local government budgeting professionals. At the current moment, I am a graduate assistant with the Town of Garner working with the budget team. It is my hope that I will be able to continue my journey after graduation in May and work as a budget analyst for a local government.
Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
As for hobbies, I enjoy working out, reading nonfiction and studying finance and business-related news and literature. Much of my hobbies involve learning more about the field of public administration through reading, researching and keeping up with local and state-wide news related to the government. I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and family and exploring different restaurants and coffee shops in the Triangle area.
What is some wisdom you can give to other students?
As for wisdom, I would offer some advice to incoming graduate students. The advice is to remember that you were admitted for a reason. You are intelligent and capable of doing well. Two, remember that while graduate school is important, at the end of the day it is just school. What I mean is that, do your best and work hard, but don’t burn yourself out in the process. It is fine to make mistakes and ask questions. Lastly, two years go by incredibly fast, and the person you are when you start the program will not be the person you are when you finish. There will be a lot of professional and personal growth. That is totally fine. Keep working hard and learning and it will all pay off in the long run.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Iredell County, North Carolina, but I currently live in Durham.
Where did you complete your undergrad?
I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018 with honors in history and religious studies.
Do you currently have a job?
I work full-time in development and communications at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global conservation nonprofit. Through targeted outreach, events and print and digital media, I help to engage a spectrum of TNC supporters who share a unique commitment to the environment in North Carolina.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy exploring natural areas in North Carolina (and beyond)! I have recently taken up trail running after primarily entering long-distance road races. In February I participated in the Uwharrie Mountain Run at Uwharrie National Forest in south central NC, which I plan to run again. I also love photography. The Eno River is one of my favorite places for running (part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail crosses the state park) and photography in the Triangle, especially during springtime.
What is something you love about the MPA program?
I am grateful for the interdisciplinary opportunities offered through the MPA program. I hope to specialize further in nonprofit management, environmental policy and communications.