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Master of Public Administration Student Placements and Testimonials

If you would like to be included on this page, please send your information to Mark McBeth.

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Idaho State University has been in existence since the mid-1970s. The MPA is a professional degree geared toward individuals who are either working as public administrators or have public administration as a career goal. Since the mid to late 1990s, the MPA program has grown significantly in both the number of graduates and course offerings. Many new classes have been added to the curriculum, including public administration ethics, grantwriting, public administration research, state and local administration, and program assessment.

In 1995, Dr. Mark McBeth was hired as MPA director. He currently teaches core MPA courses such as public policy analysis, public personnel administration, organizational theory, and bureaucratic theory. In the MPA program, the coursework is grounded in the major theories and concepts of the discipline of public administration. Students will read cutting edge books and articles in the field and have many opportunities to sharpen their writing and analytical skills. Students will also tackle a wide variety of decision making cases that encourage them to see the distinctive role of an administrator in a democratic form of government.

Our graduates go on to a wide variety of administrative careers. Most end up in managerial positions working for a government or non-profit agencies, but others use their skills and unique knowledge in the private sector. This page will provide graduate testimonials and information about why students selected the Political Science MPA program at Idaho State University. We hope the graduate testimonials provide some insight into the recent history of our program.

Brad Cramer, MPA 2007

“I entered the MPA program with a different background than most.  My undergraduate work was in international politics and I wanted to be involved with world affairs in my career.  Towards the end of my program I enrolled in the MPA public policy analysis course.  Taking that class was like finally finding a tool that could be used to make sense of the mess that is politics.  It convinced me that I needed the MPA degree if only for its level of practicality and sensibility.  During my time in the program, though, I took interest in city planning as it related to my background in landscape architecture. 

I really enjoyed the program.  I found the case study approach to be very helpful and I still use the methods in my current job.  I also felt the professors truly had the students’ interests as their first priority.  I felt they were genuinely concerned about me.  Because the program is relatively small, many of my classes were with the same students.  It was very helpful to talk to them about job hunting, where they were in the program, and about challenging assignments. 

Within a month of graduation I had my first job as the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Idaho Falls.  I had done my internship for the city and this was instrumental in my hiring.  Although my employer wanted a candidate with a planning degree because of its basic engineering skills, I find myself using principles from policy analysis, ethical reasoning, statistics, management, and especially critical thinking on a daily basis.  I’m still learning the technical aspects of planning through various trainings, conferences, and lots of practices; but I feel MPA program has given me a keen advantage over one who only knows the technical aspects of planning.  The knowledge from the MPA program will be an invaluable asset throughout my career.”  Brad Cramer.

Lynette Sampson, MPA, 2006

“When I started the MPA Program, I knew virtually nothing about what it entailed. Two years after I completed by Bachelors at another institution, I asked two former professors about the best decision for a graduate program, a Master of Arts in Political Science or an MPA. Both recommended the MPA because of the simple purpose of employability upon completion.  Thus, I entered the MPA with only that bit of information.

Shortly after the first few class periods, I discovered I really enjoyed the entire curriculum offered in the program.  One of the best points of the program is the availability of the professors.  All the instructors in the program show a genuine interest in both the material and students.  Although my reasons for entering the program were not great, I so loved the program that I intend to pursue a Doctorate degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration.” Lynette Sampson 

Sarah Cripe (Goedde), MPA, 2006


“Upon entering the MPA program my goal was to increase my marketability.  I had graduated with a BS in Political Science which I thought was interesting to study, but I had no desire to be a political scientist or run for office.  This severely limited my options for employment within the career field.  I immensely enjoyed taking classes in the MPA program as an undergraduate and decided to enroll in the graduate program. 

Some of my best memories of the program include the way that the teachers and students interacted.  The classrooms were always full of people who were able to debate and articulate.  This made some of the most challenging classes easier to comprehend.  I loved how welcoming the professors were to questions and how supportive they were for their students. 

I’m currently employed as the Planner for the City of Mountain Home.  I am the first person to hold this position.  I am qualified for this job because of my educational background in the MPA program.  The case studies were immensely helpful in my interview process, along with the constant drilling of what and who a public servant is responsible to, and how often this conflicts.”  Sarah Cripe

Ryan Fowler, MPA, 2006



“When I entered the MPA program I didn’t have a plan.  I had graduated with my degree in American Studies and wanted something more before I threw myself on the mercies of the professional work force.  After much research, I found the Masters in Public Administration.  This program seemed to be a good mix of my personal interest and real world preparation.  It turned out to be more than I expected.

The classes offered dealt with real world situations.  Through the use of case studies we were able to exercise the tools that we were taught by the professors in the department.  This allowed us to envision how we would use these tools in our future jobs.  I gained an immense amount of knowledge from Idaho State Universities MPA program, but perhaps the most important thing I took away were lasting relationships with people invested in the future. 

I am currently working at Portneuf Medical Center.  I had worked for PMC for many years before graduated.  Recognizing the skills that I could now offer they promoted me from my previous position to that of Hospital Improvement Advisor in the Quality Management Department.  This position has been very fulfilling and allows me to utilize skills from the program nearly every day.”  Ryan Fowler


Gina Garcia Valencia, MPA, 2006

“My goals were to gain exposure to nonprofit management theory and learn from a diverse group of students from all walks of life regarding their experiences and perspectives about public administration. My objective entering the program was to earn a degree that would prepare me to work in the not-for-profit world.  My ultimate goal regarding this degree was to work in helping develop indigent populations in my home country.

My best memories and what I miss the most about the MPA program are those deep conversations that helped us as students challenge our belief system. These conversations and discussions helped me define and practice democracy, human rights, sustainable land and resource planning issues. I miss having those moments of enlightenment while discovering how and why policies are and have been made. A great memory and testimony of good leadership skills were the open door policy, accessibility, responsiveness and support of our professors while and after being in school.

I am currently working in a small resort community in the west ─ Jackson, Wyoming. I coordinate a College Preparation Program for Minority students through the Teton County Library and also direct the Teton Literacy Program Latino Family Literacy Project.

Many of the tasks I undertake through my jobs are related to program development and coordination. As such, I have to constantly plan, implement, evaluate and report.  In addition, financial management is an important part of my job as program director. I think in the past while reporting and enhancing programs, in the present while getting tasks done and in the future while planning. All of these tasks relate to the curriculum followed by the MPA program.

I have to manage employees and interact with many colleagues within each agency and within the community. I cannot think of my program as an island, but as a piece in the bigger puzzle. Working with others and building coalitions is a necessity in my position. In working with others, the politics of small town, group think and competing for dollars can make the daily routine challenging. Theory on leadership, motivation, organizational culture and organizational structure from which we review at large in the classroom, provide a solid background for setting expectations, understanding of the reality and performing.

The MPA Program validated to me that I am accountable to not only my direct superior. In my jobs I feel accountable to my clients, my team, the board members of the agencies I work for, the community in general, my program volunteers, donors, and my colleagues from partnering agencies.” Gina Garcia Valencia

Heidi Harold, MPA, 2006

“I entered the MPA program with the hopes of rehabilitate myself from the evils I experienced while working in the corporate world.  I began the MPA program at ISU with the intentions of gaining skills and knowledge because I aspired to work for a public agency or organization. 

At first I thought that I would like to work for a private nonprofit organization.  The MPA program provided me with numerous opportunities to interact with many local nonprofits.  The experience I gained in my internship allowed me to learn that I wasn’t really as interested in traditional nonprofit organizations as I first thought I was.  The instructors and courses helped me to find what I wanted in a career.   The end decision was for me to work in higher education.  Throughout the entire program I felt challenged to excel academically.  I also felt supported by the faculty in my academic, service, and career endeavors.

I now work for Idaho State University.  The things I learned in the MPA program serve me on a daily basis.  The degree material helped me to become a more effective public servant and to be a real asset to the institution.  Without the MPA training I would not be as sensitive to stakeholders needs; I probably wouldn’t religiously wear a nametag either.  The degree also adequately prepared me for the doctorate level program I am currently pursuing in higher educational leadership.” Heidi Harold 

Rory Olsen, MPA, 2006

“Upon entering the Idaho State University MPA program, I was working as a regional training manager for Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training.  Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training is the state agency that certifies, trains, and maintains standards for all peace officers within the state.  I entered the MPA program, because I wanted to learn how to become a more efficient and effective public administrator.  I also wanted to learn how I could better serve the citizens of Idaho, and the law-enforcement officers I worked with.  Additionally, I felt that the MPA program could help me with future promotions within the agency.  The main reason I chose the Idaho State University MPA program was the availability of classes. I was a nontraditional student, and they offered classes during the evening hours, which allowed me to continue to work and take classes at the same time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in the MPA program.  I learned new information that I could apply immediately within my profession on a daily basis.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the program was that every class was presented with real-life examples included.  In every class, we looked at case studies and used them to apply what we had learned in class.  Several classes I took during the MPA program have proved to be extremely helpful in my current position.  In the Administrative Law class I learned about due process and employment laws.  This has helped tremendously, as I am sometimes consulted by agencies regarding personnel issues.  In organizational theory class, I learned strategies and techniques for looking at organizational structure.  This class is becoming helpful as we are currently seeking to reorganize our agency to streamline our functions.  In public policy class I learned about stakeholder analysis, which I use on a continual basis, as we seek to set standards for the law enforcement community.

Since graduating from the Idaho State University MPA program, I'm still working as a regional training manager for Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training.  There have been no opportunities for promotion yet within the agency, however I have been told by my supervisors that obtaining my MPA will greatly benefit me in future opportunities.  Almost on a daily basis, I use information, techniques, and methods learned during the MPA program.  I have also had the opportunity on numerous occasions to share information and ideas learned in the program.  Just recently I had the opportunity to share with a city council member the concept of stakeholder analysis.  The councilman was aware of stakeholders, but had never thought about, or realized how the stakeholders can and do influence each other.” Rory Olsen

Andrea Ramirez, MPA, 2006

“The Idaho State MPA program was a great experience. When I was looking into entering Graduate programs I wanted a program that would compl