Mikayla Slaydon, class of 2024 Master of Public Service & Administration candidate, discusses her experience at the Bush School. Mikayla is in the Public Management Track with an individually designed concentration in Education Social Justice.
Interviewer: Introduce Yourself
Mikayla: Hi, my name is Mikayla Slayton. I’m on the SA (Public Service & Administration) side . I have a Public Management Track and I have an individually designed concentration of Educational Social Justice. You should ask me about it. I went to undergrad here at Texas A&M. I started in the fall of 2018, so I’ve been here quite a bit. I graduated this past May with a degree in child professional services with a couple of minors in sociology and creative Studies.
Interviewer: Why did you choose the Bush School?
Mikayla: I was choosing between a student affairs degree, this policy degree, and then I also applied to a Ph.D. in sociology. I amazingly got accepted into all three. It truly shocked me, but I thought about it up until the last day. The thing that decided it all for me is that the Bush School felt like home. The faculty, and the staff, and the students at the Bush School were so welcoming. I felt so welcome from day one at my interview conference weekend, and I was really nervous, but I had a lot of really, really cool first years, now second years, talk me through all the nerves. I would say if you are a prospective student considering this program, it truly does feel like home. It is the best value of any program you’ll find in the state of Texas, if not the country, in my opinion, and the quality of education here is like no other.
Interviewer: What did you appreciate most about your first semester?
Mikayla: I loved my first semester because of of a wide variety of reasons. As I mentioned, I studied child professional services. It’s quite different from policy work. I was really nervous about getting into the classes and just learning something that was so different from anything that I’d ever learned before, but the professors made it so easy to acclimate. We started off really slow and we did increase in pace, but everything worked out great. I also found a great group of friends that I love so much, which I wasn’t expecting to do, because I still have quite a few of my friends here from undergrad, but I still found those people anyways and that was beyond my wildest dreams.
Interviewer: Tell me about an experience that inspired you to choose public service.
Mikayla: I went to Fish Camp when I came in as an incoming freshman, which is Texas A&M University’s extended orientation program. It was a four day, three night program. I went off into the woods, had a lot of fun, but I was kind of exposed to a lot of different people that I had never been around. I went to a predominantly Black high school, and so I didn’t feel like I quite fit in into the kind of group that I was put into. Because of that experience, I easily could have washed my hands of the program and not chosen to go back and go into leadership. But I did, just because I wanted to make it better for the people that came after me. I moved up throughout the leadership and then I just finished up my term as head director this past year. I can’t say the amount of times that I had women, Black people, and other people of color come up to me and tell me how much they were excited that I was the person leading the charge and how I took their questions seriously. I took their experience seriously and I wanted to make it better for them. That taught me that public service is something that you choose over and over again, and you choose to do that every day, right? You wake up and you choose to serve the people around you, and you do that altruistically. I wasn’t expecting anything in return. If a single person hadn’t stopped me and told me that I changed their experience it would not have mattered to me. That was the cherry on top. Public service is a noble calling.