Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

For more than half of my life, I close-mindedly pursued knowledge purely for the sake of academic success. Perfect grades were of utmost importance to me, yet I gave little thought as to how I might use my education in any tangible way. It wasn’t until high school that I began to think critically about the role I wanted to play and the positive impact I could have in the world if I were to utilize my education constructively. In an elective called ‘Profits of Nonviolence,’ I was introduced to figures like Leymah Gbowee, an activist and future Nobel Laureate who organized an interreligious women’s coalition to nonviolently end the Liberian Civil War. I read from authors like Jonathan Kozol and Barbara Ehrenreich, who examined the social implications of a segregated education system or an economy that undervalues low-wage workers.

These lessons were transformational: for the first time, I knew I wanted to pursue a career confronting the issues I learned about and I realized that nonprofit management would provide an excellent intersection between my interest in the public good and my personal strengths— research, writing, and critical analysis. As a History major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict studies, I attempted to learn as much as possible about systems of privilege and oppression, social movements, and the change-agents behind them in order to move closer towards my desired career path.

My experience in the nonprofit sector after college cemented my commitment to the field and my desire to develop the skills necessary to become an effective nonprofit leader. I am pursuing an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU Wagner in order to give me the proper framework for a career in public service. It is my hope to pursue an MPA, no longer for the sole purpose of academic achievement, but in order that I may contribute effective solutions to the pressing social challenges around me and become a change-agent in my own right.

Deirdre from New York
NYU Wagner