Alumni Spotlight: Ruth Strande




Ruth Strande

Management and Program Analyst

US Agency for International Development (USAID)




What was your area of study at Northeastern?

I graduated in 2013 from the Master’s in Public Administration program.


Why did you choose to study at the School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs (SPPUA)?

Flexibility; I wanted an entirely online program since my job requires international travel.

I also chose Northeastern because of their excellent reputation for real-world application. I felt like everything I learned could directly be applied to my ongoing work and will continue to be useful throughout my career.


For your particular career, and perhaps current job, which courses provided you with the most applicable skills?

Organizational Theory and Management, Institutional Leadership and the Public Manager, Public Personnel Administration, Budgeting and Financial Management were all useful, as well as my independent study, which focused on capacity building.


Which skills that you gained in the program are most useful / relevant in your job?

Leadership, financial management, and personnel administration skills as well as organizational theory. I also felt like my writing strengthened, particularly being able to write succinct policy memos.


Since you worked full time, what was your work / school / life balance like and how did the program fit into your schedule?

This is exactly why I chose the online MPA program. I work full time and travel with work. I felt like the flexibility. The online schedule allowed me to work on my own time in evenings, on weekends, on vacation, and in transit. I felt like professors were very understanding of my schedule and were very accommodating.

I also would really recommend working full time while doing the MPA program, as I really benefited from the direct application of my studies to my work as well as the mentorship and guidance from my professors.


Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Before enrolling in a full-time program, I took a graduate course as a non-degree student. I would certainly recommend this to others as it helped me to:

  1. Narrow down my prospective major,
  2. Get a recommendation from a graduate professor when it came time to applying for a full-time program (which I found very helpful) and
  3. Get a taste of what going back to school while working full time would be like.

Just make sure any course you take is transferable and/or that the university you are looking at for full time will accept transfer credits.


What you do in your current position?

I work on a team to implement and manage professional and organizational development activities for the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Health Sector staff. We provide training, leadership development, professional development, organizational development, and staff performance management services to all USAID Health Sector employees in headquarters and in our field offices.

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