Kennedy School celebrates graduation of 562 students

By Karly Schledwitz, MPP’14

Staff Writer

Bittersweet. That is how many of the 562 Kennedy School graduates have described this graduation day. After lectures from world leaders in the JFK Jr. Forum, long hours in the library and the forging of friendships with classmates from around the world, it is now time to celebrate the degrees these students have worked so hard to earn and the future leaders they will become.

This year’s graduating class represents a remarkable 78 countries, making it the most globally diverse graduate program at Harvard University. Four separate degrees are being awarded: Master of Public Policy, Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Administration in International Development, and Mid-Career Master of Public Administration. The graduates will be joining the network of more than 18,000 degree alumni worldwide (and over 33,000 alumni from HKS’s executive education program).

The past school year was an especially exciting time at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) as many activities revolved around the 2012 presidential election including lectures, debate watches, voter registration drives and a huge election night party.

Students this year also heard from Burmese democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and former State Department Director of Policy Planning Anne Marie Slaughter. We even got the chance to see Dean Ellwood’s hilarious rendition of gangnam style, ‘HKS Style’, at this year’s talent show.

But beyond the speakers, these degrees have prepared students for a variety of careers in the public and private sector. Alfredo Zamudio, an MPA student in this graduating class, has been hired by Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva, Switzerland. He will be working as the director of their watchdog and resource center on global internal displacement.

Eric Rodriguez is moving to New York City to work for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and will be working closely with their public finance sales, trading and debt teams. He found this job while working for the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility team last summer in California.

Another MPA graduate, Mariya Krasteva, will be joining an office of many HKS alumni at Censeo Consulting Group in Washington, D.C. There she will be working to save taxpayer dollars by helping government spend in smarter ways.

Paul Perez is starting a job with the Public Sector Strategy & Transformation Office in IBM’s Washington, D.C. office. He is looking forward to serving education, health care, and federal, state and local government clients to develop long-term innovative solutions for strategic problems.

Mickey Sexton has been hired by the World Bank to assess and analyze education and health service delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously working as a doctor in rural Rwanda, Mickey feels strongly that his rigorous and analytical MPA-ID education has prepared him for this new career.

The careers HKS students have chosen are indeed impressive, but graduates who have not yet secured their dream job should not panic. The Office of Career Advancement is open all summer for support and their surveys of past classes show that nearly all students are employed within five months of graduation.

The inspiration from courses, events and classmates is not entirely over. Graduates will be hearing a commencement address from Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem’s Children Zone in Harlem, NY. This organization strives to break the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families through innovative programs following children from birth through college.

Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report and has become a passionate advocate for education reform. In fact, Canada recently received the Harvard Graduate School of Education Medal for Education Impact, the highest honor given by the Education School. His commitment to public service and his adept leadership skills make him an ideal role model for Kennedy School graduates.

Congratulations to all of the 2013 Kennedy School graduates!

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