Christopher Kelly is a member of Marist's online MPA Class of 2014. He received a BA in Political Science from Siena College and is currently the Deputy Commissioner of Finance for Ulster County in New York.
Tell us about your work history before Marist, including years of experience, industry, companies, and positions.
Before Marist, I worked at the county level in elections administration. I did everything from dealing with election law and programming voting machines to training people in the use of voting machines. I also worked for the New York State Bridge Authority as Manager of Special Projects, developing public outreach via social media, managing different projects, and writing policies and procedures and as the Deputy Chief of Staff.
What are your career goals?
My goal is to continue my path as a public servant and pursue positions in areas where change is the hardest. After policies are funded and the ribbons are cut, sometimes, organizations and/or people can lose focus on a policy’s effectiveness. I want to be there after the cameras are gone and the ribbons are cut to make sure policies are implemented effectively and work for the organization long-term.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at Marist?
I chose Marist because several friends had said they had good experiences in the Public Administration program. I also found that I could conveniently choose between online and in-person classes – whatever fit my schedule at the time.
Tell us about a project or course that was particularly meaningful to your professional development.
The Capstone project allowed me to think specifically about how to apply all that I had learned in previous classes. It was all about proposing something that I felt was applicable in my work setting. It’s also not often that you are asked to consider the theories and great thinkers of your field and apply their writings to your profession or place of business. It grounds your learning and allows you to directly apply classroom learning to “real life.”
How has a degree from Marist and your course work enhanced your career?
When I started my career, I was dealing mostly with projects and finding ways to make an impact on my organization. Since I started and finished my degree, I have been promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff with a much wider organizational responsibility and impact. The professors and teachers at Marist allowed me to constantly apply my real-life experience and work to my course work, which in turn made me grow rapidly as a manager and as a confident administrator.
What advice would you give to a student considering pursuing their master’s degree at Marist?
Make sure you have a goal in mind – a master’s degree should not be used as a broad stroke in your career development. Find ways to apply it to what you currently do or what you want to do after you finish the degree.
If you took an online class or had online learning as part of a regular course, tell us about your experiences – any tips or suggestions to pass along to future students?
Especially for online classes, be precise and thoughtful in choosing your words when posting to the communication boards. Make it count – your professors and peers will thank you for it.
Please feel free to provide additional comments.
Be patient – with yourself, with your peers and your professors. In this program, you may be working with people that work nights or have kids or just graduated and this is all they do. Like any workplace, you have to learn how to stay on track despite all of life’s challenges. The same goes for groups and online learning – find a way to be a good partner and to encourage your partners to do their best, but don’t spend time judging them for whatever life has thrown their way in the midst of pursuing a better future.
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Alumni
Major: MPA - Public Administration
Academic School: Management