Keep It Local

Bretschneider Scholar Austin Roney plans to apply his MPA in Central New York.

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Austin Roney in the Strasser Academic Village, Eggers Hall

Syracuse-area native Austin Roney graduated from St. Lawrence University with a drive to address issues of social inequality and a commitment to serve his home city. “A lot of the friends I grew up with went to some major urban hub after college,” he says. “I think it’s important for young people who grow up here to try to stay and make the city a little better.”

In his post-college job, as a counselor at Syracuse’s Elmcrest Children’s Center, he worked with kids facing abuse, neglect, and emotional challenges. Later, with AmeriCorps VISTA, he built volunteer programs that offer science instruction to refugee and underserved youth in Syracuse.

Now Roney is an MPA student, aiming to advance his career in social service. He does so as the Bretschneider Scholar. Emeritus professor Stuart Bretschneider created the award in 2013 to honor his late wife, Cynthia, a physical therapist in Syracuse schools, and particularly to support students like Roney interested in working in education and with children with disabilities.

From Roney’s perspective, the scholarship not only expands access to the MPA program but encourages graduates to stay focused on the issues they care about most. “It helps people find a job that they feel drawn to for the right reasons,” he says, “rather than rushing to the first job offer they get because they’re under the gun financially.”

Post-Maxwell, Roney will focus on youth advocacy and work with “any organization that helps kids in the city get a leg up, build life skills, graduate high school, go to college.” If all goes as planned, he’ll do that work in Syracuse.

This article appeared in the winter 2019 print edition of Maxwell Perspective © Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail