Durand “DJ” Huntley, ’23 Master of Public Service and Administration candidate, discusses his time at the Bush School.
My name is Durand Huntley, I’m a first year MPSA student at the Bush School. And, in my undergrad, before I came here, I was a mascot at my university, which took me into lots of philanthropic and foundational experiences. So here at the Bush School, I’m here to work in philanthropy and fundraising for nonprofits. I think it would give me avenues to put my feet in a bunch of different things and improve the world.
Why did you choose the Bush School?
I choose the Bush School because I got admitted to a public policy fellowship at the University of Michigan through PPIA and they gave me a scholarship to most of the public policy schools in the country. I wanted to go to a school that was in the south, for the warmth, as well as had practitioners because I’m not a very theoretical person; I wanted people that not only knew about the experiences, but lived them. And the Bush school attracted me for that reason. Also, I love sports and being an Aggie. It’s a once in a lifetime experience
I wanted to go to a presidential school because I thought it’d be pretty cool, but other schools weren’t as focused on your success, and the Bush School is a lot more intensive about who they let in. And all the faculty are really involved with who you are, especially if you talk to them. And that’s what I wanted, because I came as a person who didn’t have lots of work experience in what I did before, and so I felt like these professors here would really sculpt me into the person I wanted to be.
What did you appreciate most about your first semester?
The thing I appreciated most about my first semester was the amount of programs at the Bush School, and the way it throws things at you and kind of sees what sticks. I kind of took on a bunch of them and I felt like that was a great experience because I was able to meet tons of my peers. I don’t go into a class where I don’t know at least half of the people in there. Also, the events helped me find out who I am. I run the Tailgate Committee for our Bush School tailgate at the football games. And while on the surface it just seems like I’m doing something for the Bush School, it gave me tons of event planning and philanthropic experience meeting people, fundraising, and thinking about how we use our specific dollars to get the most returns from it. The Bush School has lots of different clubs and stuff that gives you the experience you need once you leave here.
So, going along with our internship experience, I feel like there is no reason for any student to leave the Bush School without experience in what they want to do.
What are you most looking forward to this semester?
This semester I’m most looking forward to getting into classes that are what I love. I’m in an ethics course. It’s about finding out who you are inside and helping to inform your policy decisions. That’s with Dr. Bright. And I’m also in a social justice course, which is new, and it’s taught by Kenneth Taylor. It’s about bringing diversity into leadership roles and public service. My public policy formation course is also interesting. The classes move a lot from the theory into applications, and that’s more where I came from.
What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself applying to the Bush School?
The advice that I would give to an incoming me coming into the Bush School is not to harbor on what you think the reputation of the Bush School is. I think some people in our partisan environment get kind of turned off about having a Republican president, no matter who it is. And I think I would tell a younger me to do the research on who H.W. Bush was and the ideals that he had at this school, and that he basically lived at the school and was involved in the classes. And how service should transcend partisanship. That was very important to a young me and should be important to people coming to the Bush School.