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Student Spotlight – from SU undergrad to Maxwell MPA: Lindsay Finman

Lindsay Finman – SU BA 2019 with a direct path to her Maxwell MPA, 2020 !

A conversation with Lindsay Finman, MPA Class of 2020.

With the holiday season in the rear-view mirror, there is the busy hum of the Syracuse community beginning to re-congregate for the spring term. The Syracuse University community is a special one, and we highly recommend that potential applicants to the Maxwell School take a day to visit to see why so many of our students think of it as a second home. One of these people is current cohort member Lindsay Finman. Lindsay attended Syracuse as a undergraduate and when she was deciding on potential destinations for graduate school, she decided that there was really only one choice. Below is a conversation we had with Lindsay discussing her decision to continue at Syracuse University.

  • What led you to decide to pursue graduate education?

Once I realized that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector, it became clear that I would need to attend graduate school, as it would be advantageous when moving up in an organization. After talking to various people in the non-profit sector, I began researching graduate schools that offered a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and the top-ranked, one-year program Maxwell had to offer was very appealing. I also knew that I wanted to attend graduate school immediately after my undergraduate studies so I could begin my career as soon as possible. I wanted a program which would teach a combination of hard and soft skills—where I could learn skills such as data analysis but also how to effectively manage groups and run meetings—and this program does exactly that.

  • What led you to choose Syracuse as your graduate school of choice?

My choice to attend Syracuse was simple, as this university became my second home during my 4 years as an undergraduate student. During my time in undergrad as a Political Science major, I had always heard about the prestige of the Maxwell graduate programs. Once I determined I wanted to pursue graduate education, there was no doubt in my mind that the Maxwell School would be my top choice. For months I anxiously awaited a decision from Maxwell, and the day I received my acceptance letter meant that my hard work had paid off—I was on the path to receive my MPA degree from the top graduate program in the country.

“Once I determined I wanted to pursue graduate education, there was no doubt in my mind that the Maxwell School would be my top choice.”

It also meant that I would be able to spend another year in my favorite place, making the transition from undergraduate studies to graduate school much easier. Being an SU alumni in this program is a special feeling, and one I never take for granted. It is such an honor to be in this program, learning from renowned scholars alongside an incredible cohort. Choosing to stay at Syracuse for an additional year has been the best decision, and I am looking forward to what the rest of the program has in store.

  • What is your ideal job post Maxwell?

My ideal job post-Maxwell is to be working on the development team of a non-profit organization or children’s hospital in New York City. I have been involved in Relay for Life and OttoTHON, Syracuse University’s Dance Marathon, for years and loved raising money for causes I am so deeply passionate about. Nothing excites me more than knowing that after graduation I will be working full-time to do exactly this. I cannot wait to go to work each day knowing that I will have a major impact on so many lives. I plan to work my way up in the non-profit sector, with the eventual career goal of becoming a Chief Development Officer in the near future.

  • What has been your main takeaway from your time at Maxwell so far?

My main takeaway from my time as a Maxwell graduate student so far is the strong support system that is built both within the cohort and between students and professors. Walking into Colloquium on day 1 was quite intimidating, but it became clear very early on that we were all in this together. As intense as the summer courses were, I am so grateful for the time I had to bond with members of my cohort, both in class and during various organized events.  In the seven weeks of summer courses, I felt that we all built a support system with one another and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

Financing Maxwell:  Another takeaway is that I have had the distinct privilege of being named this year’s Stephen J. Smallwood Scholar. This award is in honor of 1961 Maxwell graduate Stephen J. Smallwood, who after working as a development officer for Syracuse University, became a leader in the philanthropic field. I am so honored to have received this award, and hope to that one day I will become a leader in the field of philanthropy.

A final takeaway is from Professor Tina Nabatchi’s inspiring speech on the last day of Public Administration and Democracy this summer, where she encouraged all of us to “use your powers for good.” I am confident that the skills I acquire in each of my MPA courses will help get me on a path where I can do exactly this, and I will be sure to remember these words both this year and throughout my career.

  • What would you say to anyone applying to Maxwell currently

If there is one thing I could say to anyone applying to Maxwell, it would be that you are applying to a program where administration, professors, and cohort members alike genuinely care and want to see you succeed and pursue your passions. Since the program is so short, you really do get to know everyone in your cohort, and this support system is invaluable. Receiving two degrees from Syracuse in five years is no easy feat, but the Maxwell School is incredible, and with eight different areas of study, you will have the opportunity to pursue your passions alongside some of the most motivated people you will ever meet.

Should you choose to attend Maxwell, you will learn to “use your powers for good” and form so many memories with members of your cohort, all the while trying to figure out how to survive a Syracuse winter (I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds—just dress warm and wear layers!). Best of luck with your application process and Go Orange!

Special Appreciation Stephan Murphy, MPA 2020, and Graduate Admissions Assistant who interviewed Lindsay for this blog post.


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May 2023
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