Getting an MPA to Help My Community — James' Story

Getting an MPA to Help My Community — James' Story-image

James Warren is a first-year MPA student concentrating his studies in Government, Politics, and Policy Studies. Before coming to Cornell, he worked for the Denver County Court in the Criminal Division as a Judicial Assistant. It was here that he realized the need for practical and sensible policy at the state and local level. At the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA), James plans to complete the Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Certificate, and someday, return to Colorado to serve the state he loves.

Here's what James had to say about getting an MPA at Cornell University and what he finds so valuable about the program.

Before coming to CIPA, I worked for the Criminal Court in Denver, Colorado. There, we had a unique program where we went out to the local rescue mission and set up a mobile court. Homeless and near-homeless individuals could come and clear warrants, appear on tickets, and have fines and costs commuted to community service.

Learn more about the experiential learning opportunities in our MPA by  downloading our resource:A Guide to Internships & Externships in the Cornell  MPA Program!

James-WarrenI was always so excited to participate in this program because I saw how it affected the lives of Denver’s most vulnerable citizens. I began to notice that the programs I valued most were based on effective and smart policy; those that were less successful, were based on less efficient policy. Because I’m driven by a deep desire to help my community, I started researching public policy and public administration graduate programs that would help me hone and develop effective policy-making skills.

I soon learned just how challenging a grad school search can be. There are thousands of options—thousands! How are you supposed to be able to pick the perfect school from that many choices? How do you even begin to narrow down the options?  

Choosing a home base for two-years of your life is a daunting project to be sure, but CIPA made it easy. I connected with a program representative at an Idealist graduate school fair who immediately connected me to a student and a professor within the CIPA MPA program. I had hour-long conversations with each of them about their lives here in Ithaca, the program, and number of other topics I had not yet considered. Even though I tried to get similar assistance from the other universities I was exploring, few were accessible and nothing compared to the personal attention that I received from CIPA.

I wondered whether the people I had spoken with at Cornell were outliers and just happened to be the friendliest, most-personable people in Ithaca; why would they have taken so much time out of their schedules just to speak with me?

As it turns out, the CIPA community is like a family and a home—a home full of kind, passionate, and earnest people welcoming you in. You remember that deep desire I have to help my community? It’s a desire that runs rampant here. Every new person that I meet at CIPA immediately becomes passionate when you ask them why they’re here—and each one has a unique and compelling reason for why they chose CIPA.

These are the people I love to be around. This is the kind of home I want. Going back to school for two years felt daunting at the onset—but now I never want to leave this place!

Explore the kinds of internship possibilities that come through the MPA program by downloading A Guide to Internships and Externships in the Cornell MPA Program!

Download the Guide

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