Dahlia Taha (class of 2023), Master of Public Service and Administration candidate, discusses her experience at the Bush School.
My name is Dahlia Taha. I am a first year Master of Public Service and Administration candidate at the Bush School. I am originally from Los Angeles, California. Prior to coming to the Bush School I went to the University of California-Irvine, where I got a double major in political science and education sciences. After I graduated, I went into the workforce, into managerial positions. I would also volunteer and intern for non-profit organizations and INGOs, like Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. I dedicated the last summer before coming here to campaigning and fundraising for children in the Middle East who are victims of war. This last summer alone I raised over $115,000 for them.
Why did you choose the Bush School?
I chose the Bush School because I’m a public servant. Public service is something I have been devoted to since I was a teenager volunteering and working with my community. The Bush School’s emphasis on creating public servants and sending them out into society to help their local, state, federal and international communities is something that resonated with me. I wanted to be around people who had similar goals and ambitions. I wanted to have a very intense curriculum with the best faculty and the best administrators. But I also wanted to be part of a community where, at the end of the day, we’re all here to help our communities and be public servants. Once I graduate I can proudly say that I’m an alum and a Bush School Aggie.
What did you appreciate most about your first semester?
I appreciated how much support I received from the faculty, the administration and my fellow students. Coming from California, there was major culture shock, and I was really worried about it. But right when I got to the school, I started making friends very easily. Everyone was just really, really nice here. I felt myself forming a second family, like a home away from home. Even Dean Welsh would see me in the hallway and immediately know my name.
What are you most looking forward to this semester?
I’m looking forward to serving the Bush School. Last semester I was elected academic affairs liaison, so I will be representing the MPSA students. I also applied for the Bush Board Fellows, which is a program that allows you to work with nonprofit organizations and serve as a non-voting board member. I actually get to work with the International American Red Cross throughout the semester, which is really cool.
I’m also excited to be taking a class with Dr. Kerr – Public Policy Formation. Dr. Kerr is a thought-provoking, challenging professor who has you questioning everything you say and do. Within minutes of walking into the class on the first day of school, she was teaching us how to be better public speakers and better writers.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself applying to or entering the Bush School?
As a grad student it’s very intense, and it’s not like undergrad. It’s challenging. But the Bush School isn’t just an academic institution—it’s a community. Whether you’re an MPSA student or you’re in the Master of International Affairs program, everyone knows each other. Everyone cares about each other here. Dean Welsh is taking time to make sure every single one of the students is going to succeed and is getting that education they deserve while feeling welcomed here. That’s something that should stick out to people looking to get their masters: Am I going to feel comfortable in my environment? Is it going to be a welcoming environment? Is it competitive, but do the people who I’m competing with want me to succeed? You’ll get that at the Bush School.
Before I moved here, I was scared. I’m a Muslim, American-Palestinian student, so moving to College Station was a huge transition. But it’s been one of the most welcoming transitions. Don’t be so afraid and just walk into the Allen building on the first day. Be excited. You’re going to meet so many great people, so many great faculty members and so many great administrators who are rooting for your success. So get rid of that fear. It’s going to be okay.