The Bush School is fully committed to its mission of educating and training principled leaders as well as performing service. Learn more about why students have chosen the Bush School of Government & Public Service as Alyssa Duany (class of 2022), Master of Public Service and Administration candidate, discusses her experience at the Bush School. She is in the Public Policy Analysis track with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
My name is Alyssa Duany. I am currently a second-year Master of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) student on the public policy analysis track, and I’m getting the Certificate in Nonprofit Management. Before I came to the Bush School I worked in nonprofits for a couple years. I was a volunteer coordinator, and I worked as an AmeriCorps team leader for about a year in the north central region. Then I came to the Bush School to get more experience and learn more about policy and nonprofits.
What three words would you use to describe your Bush School experience?
Flexibility. I started during COVID-19, so we had to be flexible with some class settings and that kind of thing. Hard work. It’s a hard program, but there’s so much value that you get from it. Community is the third one. There’s really a sense of community among the faculty the staff, and the students as well. There’s a sense of, “We want to help you be better, and we want to build a sense of belonging for new students.” When I started here I didn’t know anybody, and I was able to make great friendships with people in my classes.
What did you do between the summer in the summer between your first and second year? How did it supplement your education and/or career search?
I worked at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a program and management analyst intern. I worked with a team to look at a federal agency’s procurement and acquisitions. A big part of what I had to do was fine tune my writing to make it more succinct and appropriate for what we had to eventually turn into a report. Through that experience I got a good understanding of the federal writing style. That helped me with a lot of my classes. I really want to focus the intersection of policy and non-profits. Having a federal job really helped me understand the government process a little bit more and give me hands-on experience.
The first year of my Bush School experience I actually found out about the GAO. Without my first year at the Bush School, I would not have had that opportunity to learn about the GAO. It actually helped me land the internship. I went to a career information session [that] had people come from the GAO who were former Bush School students. They talked about their experience in the organization and talked highly of it. It sounded like a great opportunity to work for a federal agency that essentially creates accountability for the rest of the government. My first year [at the Bush School] prepared me for that through writing skills, policy analysis exercises and access to the GAO.
What is a challenge that you encountered during your first year and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge my first year was coming back into the school environment. I graduated from undergrad in 2017, so when I started at the Bush School I had to remind myself how to manage reading every night and how to do papers all over again. I’d say the writing was probably the most difficult for me, because the writing style at the Bush School is very direct. The policy analysis papers and memos that we have to write are just different from anything that I’ve ever had to write before. I worked with my professors to get their feedback on my papers and with other students in my class to check each other’s papers. That helped a lot.
What advice would you give to first years to first-years?
Use your classmates to create reading groups and working groups so you guys can learn together and succeed in your classes. Your classes are at times really challenging, and if you have people to support you, work with, and talk about questions, then it’s going to be a lot easier down the road. Ask questions in class and go to professors’ office hours. Most likely, people in your class have the same questions as you, but no one’s asking. So raise your hand. Those professors are really here for you—they want to help you succeed and learn the material. By using them and learning as much as you can in and outside of class, it’ll really help you in the long run.