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Student Spotlight – Joe Gorsuch, MPA student

Joe Gorsuch will earn is MPA in June 2019

Joe Gorsuch

Master of Public Administrations (Maxwell School)
Graduate Certificate in Environmental Leadership (SUNY ESF)

Academic and Professional Background
I graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Global and International Studies.  My concentration at SUNY Oswego was in environmental sustainability.

While at SUNY Oswego I interned in the Syracuse regional office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  I primarily worked on constituent services – helping constituents who had various problems or issues with federal agencies – for Senator Gillibrand.

After graduating from SUNY Oswego, I began working for Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.  I began my work at City Hall as an Assistant to the Mayor working on constituent services and after six months I was made Director of Constituent Services.  I had a variety of responsibilities in this job including running an internship program, facilitating volunteer initiatives for the City, coordinating and attending ceremonial events, in addition to overseeing constituent services.

What interested you in working in constituent services?
I am an Eagle Scout and used to volunteer at my local ambulance agency.  When I was growing up, I was doing constituent services before I really knew what constituent services were.  I have always been interested in community service and this interest translated into doing constituent services for Senator Gillibrand and Mayor Miner.

Why did you choose the Maxwell School?
Many of my coworkers at Syracuse City Hall were Maxwell MPA alums.  They told me “if you want to be a leader in local, state, or federal government, then Maxwell is where you need to go.”

What classes are you taking now?

Economics for Public Decisions with Professor David Popp 
Statistics with Professor Katherine Michelmore
Environmental Ethics with Professor Paul Hirsch at SUNY ESF
Technology and Innovation in Public Organizations with Professor Matt Young
Energy, Environment, and Resource Policy with Professor Lambright

Why have you picked the courses that you have?
I intentionally picked classes that would challenge me and for that reason I wanted to select class that I wouldn’t have normally selected.  For example, this semester I am in Professor Young’s Technology and Innovation in Public Organizations course.  I am not a technology-person at all, but I was inspired to take this course after working with the I-Team (Innovation Team) at the City of Syracuse.  The I-Team is part of the staff at City Hall which works to come up innovative ways to address critical problems in the City of Syracuse.

In undergrad, I felt that the coursework was mainly focused on learning how things work in principle or how things work in the book.  So far in graduate school, I’ve found that the courses are much more focused on how things work in real life.

Can you tell us about a particular project or assignment that you have worked on which particularly stands out to you?
In Professor Young’s course we are all required to write a white paper on a specific topic of our choosing related to technology and innovation in the public sector.  In my initial researching of potential topics I came across an article about municipalities implementing Smart Street Light Systems (SSLs).  When I worked in the Mayor’s office I worked on a preliminary proposal for the City of Syracuse to investigate implementing a SSL system, so I chose to write about this topic for my white paper.  Working on this paper has allowed to me to work collaboratively with the City of Syracuse on its proposed SSL system and has been a great opportunity to apply the concepts we discuss in class to practical, “real world” problems.

What has been the most challenging part of your program so far?
The most difficult part of the program so far has been juggling coursework and trying to stay connected with my community service activities and maintaining professional relationships.

What advice do you have for any prospective students who are considering the Maxwell School?
Talk to someone who is currently in the program.  Current students can tell you all about their experience with classes, graduate assistantships, and life on and off campus.  If you are interested in the Maxwell School and don’t know someone who is currently a student, I recommend reaching out to Christine Omolino (PAIA Director of Admissions and Financial Aid) .  She will help help connect you with a current student.

What is your most memorable moment at the Maxwell School so far?
Finding out that I don’t have class on Fridays!

How have you gotten involved on campus?
I ran for the PAIRA (Public Administration and International Relations Association) Presidency this fall and lost in a tough three-way race.

I was recently elected co-chair of PAIRA’s Community Service Committee.  I look forward to helping connect students to community service opportunities here in Syracuse.

What do you do for your graduate assistantship?
I am a graduate assistant for Professor Grant Reeher who runs the Campbell Institute here at Maxwell.  I help Professor Reeher with his research and preparations for his Campbell Conversations radio show, Campbell speaker series, and the State of Democracy Lecture series.

What is there to do in Syracuse and the surrounding area?
I highly recommend that students take advantage of the natural beauty of the Central New York region and go to the local parks (Letchworth State Park, Watkins Glen State Park, Green Lakes State Park) and try a wine tour on Seneca or Cayuga Lakes.  In Syracuse itself, students should check out the downtown scene and visit restaurants and bars like Kitty Hoynes, Pastabilities, Dinosaur BBQ, and Funk and Waffles.  The downtown area, especially Armory Square, has really made a resurgence and it’s a great place for students to hang out on nights and weekends.  I also recommend that students explore some of the other neighborhoods in Syracuse – such as Tipp Hill or the Northside.

What is your favorite non-academic book?
The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat.  This book about a character who travels to different fictional countries with different political and social systems trying to find the “best” society.  It is all about learning from people’s experiences and perspectives which is what I am interested in doing as well.

Student Spotlights are written by Michael Fandrich.
Michael is a current MPA student and serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Director of Admission.

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