UNCW Master of Public Administration Graduate Earns Prestigious Fellowship

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Becky Peter, a 2014 graduate of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has secured a spot in the Presidential Management Fellows program, a prestigious and exclusive leadership training fellowship for advanced degree candidates.

“I was shocked to learn I was selected,” Peter said. “I went into everything just being myself with the mindset that I have nothing to lose. Imagine my surprise! I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”

The Presidential Management Fellows Program was created by Executive Order more than 30 years ago; its goal is to train inspiring secondary degree holders for potential government leadership. The fellowship consists of 160 hours of interactive training. Fellows receive a full salary and benefits for two years as they engage in developmental assignments, training and mentoring in Washington, D.C. Completion of the program carries prestige within the world of government and public service. Most, if not all, fellows have immediately gone on to acquire permanent or term positions in public service.

Peter attributes her love for public service to the YMCA day camps she attended in elementary school, which showed her that the world was a vast place with an abundance of diverse people. Her teachers within the public education system also fostered her ambition, and UNCW continued this trend. Although she did not know anyone in Wilmington, the UNCW and MPA communities never gave her the chance to feel alone or adrift.

“I was immediately part of the community,” Peter said. “It became a solid foundation for my career and, ultimately, my life. I have lifelong friends and mentors because of the MPA program.”

Last October, one such mentor, Thomas Barth, professor of Public Administration and faculty advisor for the MPA program at UNCW, encouraged Peter to apply for the Presidential Management Fellows program.

“I’m delighted that Becky has secured a PMF opportunity,” Barth said. “[The Presidential Management Fellows Program] is the premier recruitment tool used to bring the best and brightest graduates of public affairs into federal government. Becky is an example of the value of the UNCW MPA program and the quality of our students. She is bright, focused and committed to doing quality work.”

Peter’s next steps involve traveling to Washington D.C. to find her placement within the fellowship. She hopes to find her way into the Department of the Interior. Wherever she ends up, in whatever department, Becky knows she will learn much from the program.

“Success, by any measure, is not linear,” Peter said. “Disappointments and perceived failure are often just making way for greater opportunities.”

-- Caitlin Taylor