Mary Ridenour, Bush School Class of 2023, is a Master of Public Service and Administration candidate, takes the time to discuss her experience at the Bush School and the value she’s gained.
Hi, I’m Mary Ridenour and I’m a second year MPSA student with a track in Nonprofit Management and a concentration in Border and Immigration Policy.
Tell me a little bit about your experience with your professors and your classes at the Bush School
Two classes have been really impactful in my time so far and just really stuck with me. The first is public policy formation with Dr. Kerr. Dr. Kerr will teach you everything there is to know about public speaking and how to be a really good writer. It’s almost like a rewiring of your brain, of how to get up and talk in front of people and how to write really, really well. It’s a tough class. But it is so worth it. I’ve learned so much from Dr. Kerr and then I would have to say my capstone project, Capstone is a year long and it feels like a very long process in there. It’s different from all the other classes because it’s very much the students are interacting with their client and we are trying to just kind of figure out with our professor what it is that our clients are really looking for. It’s been a very valuable experience and also a lot of growth in learning how to lead a team.
What did you do this summer?
This summer I did an internship at the Heritage Foundation, which is a nonprofit thinktank in DC. I worked in the development office. So I did a little bit of data management, data cleaning on their donor database, and then I also worked with the plan giving department. So I did estate planning and requests and large scale, long term gifts that the Heritage Foundation takes from donors. I learned a lot about just living and working in DC. I think for anybody who is interested in working and living there. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the city and just kind of see what it’s like.
What is your favorite thing about the Bush School?
I think my favorite thing about the Bush School are the students. Everyone comes from a different background. They’re from all over the country and the world. They’re Interested in really, really cool topics and I just have been really honored to meet and work with a lot of these people and I think the community that the students create with each other says a lot about George Bush’s legacy and who he was and what he wanted this school to be and the students really reflect that.
If you were to give advice to yourself as you were applying to the Bush School, what would you tell yourself?
If I was speaking to a younger version of myself about applying, I’d definitely recommend that I applied before ICW. After seeing the in-person events and getting to meet the prospective students last year, when they went back to being in-person, I was like, I really missed out on an opportunity to see the professors and see the students and really interact on a one on one level. That is just such a cool opportunity to really get to know the school on a personal level. And I wish I had applied early enough to do that.