The past few years have been a whirlwind of change and self-discovery for many, and one Truman School student, Blake Bixby, has a story that many will find familiar. The pandemic prompted a reassessment of his professional goals, leading to a transformative journey that highlights the flexibility and opportunities offered by the Truman School of Government and Public Affairs.
In 2020, fresh off two years of Americorps service, Blake faced challenges in securing a new position. It was then that a professional mentor suggested exploring graduate school for short-term stability and long-term benefits. With this advice in mind, he enrolled as a non-degree seeking student in the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program at the Truman School.
What stood out for him was the program's flexibility. Despite living in Florida at the time, he was able to take online courses and later continued on-campus upon returning to Missouri. The flexibility in course selection allowed him to delve into areas beyond his immediate professional responsibilities. For instance, a grant writing course taken over the summer turned out to be not only enjoyable but also beneficial for his future endeavors.
These courses provided a deeper understanding of the policy process, laying the groundwork for a move to Missouri’s Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. "Again, because of the flexibility, I was able to work full-time and move back to online courses," said Blake. The Truman School's curriculum prepared him for the responsibilities of crafting policy at a state agency.
A piece of advice offered by Blake: "ALWAYS READ YOUR NEWSLETTERS!" It was through the Truman School's newsletter that he learned about the Mizzou in Paris program. Taking a leap of faith, he applied to teach English courses in Paris for a year, an opportunity made possible by the global recruitment campaign of the University of Paris in Nanterre. Today, he is living the dream, engaging in a cultural exchange with students from around the world and continuing to complete his degree online.
Reflecting on his journey, he emphasizes the importance of flexibility in the Truman School program. Having lived in four different cities and pursued three different careers, the online track ensured a consistent academic experience. Blake expressed confidence in the quality of education received online, asserting it matched the standards of on-campus courses.
In gratitude, Blake acknowledges the invaluable support received from the international center, helping him to plan and maximize his time abroad. He credits the Truman School for his current position, emphasizing that without this graduate program, he wouldn't have discovered such unique opportunities. While uncertain about his future, he is considering renewing his contract in Paris and envisions a continued focus on higher education in his career path.
This inspiring journey from pandemic uncertainty to teaching in Paris showcases the transformative impact of the Truman School of Government and Public Affairs. The flexibility, diverse perspectives, and global opportunities offered by the program have empowered Blake to navigate a dynamic career path and make a meaningful impact in the field of higher education.