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Melanie Helser

GS:            Where are you from?
MH:           Huntsville, Alabama.

GS:            What degree did you/will you receive and when?
MH:           I will receive a Master’s of Public Administration in May 2009.

GS:            How long have you been at UAB?
MH:           I began working at UAB in April 2006, and enrolled in the MPA program in Fall 2006.

GS:            What is your research? 
MH:           Environmental Policies in the state of Alabama.

GS:            What made you choose UAB for your graduate studies?
MH:           I chose UAB because of the proximity to Huntsville and the fact that the UAB MPA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administrations.

GS:            Have you received any awards or honors?
MH:           I am a member of Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society and a 2007 Scholarship recipient from the American Society of Public Administrators Section of Women in Public Administration.  I am also on the Executive Council for the MPA Student Association.

GS:            What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?
MH:           The achievement of my degree will be my most rewarding experience.  I have been working full time while enrolled in graduate school full time.  This has been challenging, but completely worth it.

GS:            Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?
MH:           All of the faculty members in the UAB MPA program have been a great influence on my studies.  I also commend my direct supervisor, Lesley Early, for her encouragement of my continuing education as well as her understanding of my responsibilities while enrolled in the MPA program as a student.

GS:            What is your motivation in your academics/research?
MH:           I am very committed to the “greening” of the state of Alabama.  Our state is beautiful and with a little help from its citizens and government it can remain that way. 

GS:            Do you have any advice/wisdom for other graduate students?
MH:           If you work full time like I do, it may seem like the amount of work required to receive your graduate degree is too much, but in the end it is worth all of the hard work and struggle. 

GS:            What are your plans after graduating and for the future?
MH:           I will be moving to Washington, D.C. to begin working as an analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  I also plan on researching PhD programs in Public Policy in the area and to begin a program in the next two years.

GS:            Is there anything else you would like to say? 
MH:           I have enjoyed my graduate program at UAB and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a career in the public or nonprofit sector.