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MPA Alumni Spotlight: Cassandra Pettigrew

  1. Describe your current position, what you enjoy most about it, and what you find most challenging.

I currently serve as the director of financial aid for Duke Divinity School. In this role, I ensure that more than $15M in federal and institutional financial aid is awarded equitably and in compliance with federal and institutional guidelines. As a member of the enrollment management team, I collaborate with the admission team to assist in recruitment, and as a member of the student services team, I help with the retention of students by addressing the financial concerns students may be experiencing that may interrupt their studies. What I enjoy most about my work is collaborating with my colleagues to enrich the student experience at Duke Divinity School. The most challenging part of my work is navigating the impact of the policies implemented by the Department of Education on student aid eligibility and the Office of Financial Aid operations.

  1. What is a typical workday for you?

A typical workday consists of meeting with students, awarding and reconciling federal financial aid awards, assisting departments with the reconciliation and reporting of institutional scholarship funds, meeting with our student services support team to address the needs of students who may be experiencing challenges that are impacting their studies, and supporting the admission team by participating in on-campus recruitment activities.

  1. How did the MPA program at NC State prepare you for your current position?

I was serving in my current position before enrolling in the MPA program at NC State.

  1. What did you enjoy about being an MPA student?

I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to continue to work and pursue my degree. Having students who were in service and students who were not in service created a classroom environment that fostered rich discussions and learning opportunities.

  1. What was your favorite part of the MPA Program?

My favorite part of the program was having the option to pursue a nonprofit management certificate. One of the courses I took as part of the nonprofit management certificate was Fund Development. In this course, I learned about the fund development cycle, prepared fundraising campaign communications, analyzed organizations; campaigns, and researched emerging issues within fund development. The readings, assignments and guest speakers were phenomenal. Professor Stewart’s knowledge and expertise in fund development made me want to learn more about the fund development field.

  1. What do you find to be the most interesting or challenging part of public administration?

What I find most interesting about public administration is how administrators use policy analysis and theories to implement solutions and policies to address pressing social issues facing our nation, such as affordable housing, food insecurity and education.

  1. What advice do you have for those considering a career in public administration?

Public administration is a rewarding career field that crosses all sectors. It will allow you to have a job that impacts society, improves the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations, and allows you to participate in policy development and analysis to address issues facing our society.