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Inaugural online EMPA grads celebrate at Convocation

May 21, 2019

Online EMPA grads 1Twenty-two members of Maxwell’s online Executive Master of Public Administration program (EMPA) participated in the 2019 Graduate Convocation. They are among the first graduates of the School’s online EMPA program, launched in July 2017 to advance the careers of experienced public service professionals.

Their presence at the May 10 convocation at Hendricks Chapel highlights the successful integration of the online EMPA program into Maxwell and Exec Ed programs, said Nell Bartkowiak, director of the program. “We are truly awed by the passion and dedication of our students and are delighted to welcome them into Maxwell’s alumni community,” she said.

“One fear of launching the program online was that students may not feel the same deep connection to their peers and faculty and the Maxwell community, so we were pleasantly surprised by the turnout for graduation on campus and will be working on planning a reunion soon,” Bartkowiak added.

The inaugural online EMPA graduating class includes 26 students from cohorts who completed the program in December 2018, May 2019, and June 2019. Graduates include public servants with a broad range of experience, active military and military veterans, and private-sector professionals.
The 30-credit degree program, which students can complete in as few as 15 months, includes instruction in policymaking, organizational management, and decision making. Courses feature multimedia course content and lively online discussion and access to Maxwell’s renowned faculty, educational resources, and alumni network. ExecutiveMPA@Syracuse is among more than 10 courses Maxwell faculty have adapted to offer fully online.

Online EMPA grads 2In addition to the inaugural online EMPA graduates, Maxwell also conferred degrees to the first class of Executive Master of International Relations (EMIR) in Washington, D.C. graduates. Ten students received degrees, with three traveling to Syracuse University to participate in ceremonies. Also graduating this year were 72 students, representing 12 countries, who earned EMPA, EMIR, and Certificates of Advanced Study in on-campus programs.

In a brief speech, Guido Pezzarossi, assistant professor of anthropology and recipient of the 2019 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Teaching and Research, stressed Maxwell’s “collaborative spirit and process.” The native of Guatemala joined Maxwell’s faculty in 2014. His research interests include the archaeology of colonialism, historical anthropology, and postcolonial theory.

“You’ll do great things,” he told the graduates, “but whatever the field, discipline, or sector you end up in, work to foster not just inclusion and diversity, but a sense of belonging, particularly for our more vulnerable neighbors and communities, (and) for knowledge and positionalities neglected or marginalized.”

Raissa Figueiredo ’19 EMPA, who completed the online program in December, praised Maxwell for expanding its mission of training informed citizens “through flexibility and technology.”

Figueiredo, who has worked for the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Education, said in her convocation speech that the experience of her student peers at first intimidated her. She came to recognize the value of “the willingness to put yourself in situations where you may in fact be the least talented person in the room.”

At Maxwell, she learned, “Surrounding yourself with people that are skilled, motivated and have the willingness to challenge your thoughts will make you better.”


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