Students talking to each other in front of posters

Jim Brophy

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Jim Brophy

Ithaca, NY

Academic School




What are your career goals / academic goals?

I am fortunate to have attained a challenging job in a career that I love - managing three busy state parks in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. I am striving to use this time and the opportunities that I have been given to be a better steward of these beautiful lands and unique cultural assets. I want to provide sound leadership and informed decision making for my team, these lands and our stakeholders. As far as academic goals, this program has provided me with a glimpse of how scholars and working professionals each play a role in preparing public servants for their careers. I’d love to have some of my capstone research work be part of that foundation for others.

Why did you choose to pursue your graduate degree at Marist? Why did you choose to pursue this degree program?

Though I had been in leadership roles for a few years, the early days of the pandemic made me question if I was as prepared as I should be to navigate a new landscape of management challenges. The people in the Marist Graduate Admissions Office were great and helped me overcome apprehensions about going back to school after a nearly 20 year gap. The more I learned about the program, the faculty, the flexibility, and the diversity of students I would be learning with, I began to see it was a natural fit for me.

As for this degree and concentration- people come to public service from myriad directions and backgrounds, but what connects us all is a sense of wanting to do something for others. I knew that the public management concentration in the MPA program was the right choice to provide me with the ideal learning environment for my career. The fact that I could do the program online, but still have meaningful debates and discussions with my cohort through Zoom made the decision an easy one.

Tell us about a project or course that was particularly meaningful to your professional development / academic development.

The greatest challenges have provided the most profound impact, so for me the two courses that stand out are Administrative Law and Statistics. In Administrative Law, our class would get together on Zoom and the discussion board and have very spirited debates over constitutional questions. The readings of case law and judicial opinions were challenging, and Dr Carrizales pushed us all to question our assumptions as we tried to understand how to arrive at a more fair and just system of public administration.

In Statistics, I feel like my cohort of classmates truly bonded as Dr. Bainbridge led us through a boot camp of quantitative analysis. The class focused on the type of ‘hard skills’ that I felt I needed to improve as a working professional: program outcomes, correlation, interpreting emerging science, and reliability in data. The class began by easing those of us who needed it back into math, and the group projects built a sense of community as we all worked outside of our comfort zones. Many of us still make jokes or references to our work in Stats in other MPA classes- it was a real bonding opportunity, but also foundational to success in this field.

Tell us about a meaningful experience you had at Marist as it pertains to your degree (whether that be with a Professor, Marist service, Scholarship opportunity, etc.).

The community feeling to our program truly surprised me. I did not anticipate getting to know my classmates to this degree in an online program. We all faced challenges during the Pandemic and having my MPA community there each week was a great way to get through it. My cohort includes people working in health care, law enforcement, the non-profit sector, academia, legal advocacy, social services, and ranges greatly in ages and backgrounds. In group projects, or chatting online, it has been truly rewarding to get to know such a talented and diverse group.

What advice would you give to a student considering pursuing this degree at Marist?

Don’t be afraid to jump in and make this investment in yourself.

Please include any additional pertinent information as it pertains to your course of study and/or Marist experience.

It was absolutely affirming to learn that Mayor Adams of NYC was a graduate of this program. It is also very exciting to me that some of my professors are engaged with the Marist Institute of Public Opinion (the Marist Poll)- as someone who follows politics the work that is done gathering and analyzing public opinion is pretty impressive.