Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Alisha Bower (MPA '16)

The La Follette School Class of 2016 chose Alisha Bower as graduation speaker. The La Follette School Class of 2016 chose Alisha Bower as graduation speaker.

Job title
International Agriculture Intern

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Lima, Peru

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish studies, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 2014

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences contributed to meeting your career goals?
As painful as stats and econ were, I have to say the skills I developed in rudimentary analysis and Excel have been put to use over and over again. And of course, the capstone workshop is the perfect experience to bring up in interviews – it demonstrates teamwork, taking initiative, working with stakeholders in different organizations, analytical skills (quantitative or otherwise), public speaking, etc. Having that experience really turned me into a well-rounded, polished job candidate.

Most challenging experience at the La Follette School
Deciding which classes to take! There are too many good ones.

Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School
Having our workshop paper about long-acting reversible contraceptives (Spring 2016) get coverage in the news and actually lead to further community conversations and the development of a LARC program in Wisconsin using the research we conducted as the basis for this activity.

Another super rewarding part of La Follette was simply the group of people that it attracts. With small cohorts and getting together a group of people similarly motivated to serve the public interest, you have a really great community around you to go through your master’s experience.

Why would you recommend the La Follette School to a prospective student?
Not only are you getting the amazing resources in social policy and quantitative analysis provided by the La Follette faculty, but you have access to courses throughout the entire university to craft your degree precisely to your career goals.

Why an MPA?
My experiences working and volunteering in small nonprofit organizations and start-up businesses in sustainable agriculture motivated me to pursue my MPA. I was seeing so many good ideas and fledgling initiatives that needed the technical know-how of someone with food policy knowledge and organizational design and leadership skills to really achieve the desired impact. I decided I wanted to be that person who had that technical wherewithal.

Why the La Follette School?
I decided to attend La Follette because of the flexibility it allowed to blend my interests in organizational management and food and agricultural policy issues. Another big piece of my decision was the generous scholarship/fellowship that I received, which allowed me to attain my master’s degree without taking on any additional debt. I didn’t receive such a generous offer from any of the other schools I applied to.

If any La Follette School alumni and/or friends have helped you with your career path or course work, who was it and how did he or she mentor you?
By chance, one of my fellow classmates has become one of my closest friends and professional mentors. She is always willing to take a look at my cover letters or offer advice on how to deal with sticky or new situations in the work place, and she always has shrewd observations on navigating professional life as a woman. In Program Evaluation, I had the honor of working with her on a project for the Justice Initiatives Institute and got to watch her skillful project management in action. I feel like I learned an equal amount from her that semester as I did from the actual coursework assigned.