Student Spotlight

Brandman MPA grad credits degree for setting her apart as she advances her career

January 14, 2019 by Brandman University
Planning Commissioner Kristen Camuglia
Kristen Camuglia says her MPA from Brandman gave her a better chance of being appointed to the Santa Margarita Planning Commission.                   

Plenty of Brandman alumni have used their new degrees to advance their careers, and Kristen Camuglia is no different. But the manager of government affairs for Cox, a private telecommunication company in Orange County, thinks her Master of Public Administration degree, earned in 2016, helped her land an appointment to Santa Margarita’s Planning Commission, giving her the opportunity to serve her community as well.

How did going back to school help you/your career?

At a time when having a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for most positions in my field, having a master’s degree helps set me apart. It enhances my professional experience and bolsters my credibility as an expert in my field. For example, I was recently appointed to my city’s planning commission and I’m certain that having an MPA increased the council’s confidence in my ability to serve in such a capacity. 

Who inspired you while attending Brandman? 

I enrolled in the MPA program with a co-worker back in 2010. I took a class or two and then let life’s distractions convince me to take a break. Before I knew it, four years had passed. That co-worker went on to earn his degree and a great job, but it’s when he accepted a position teaching for Brandman’s MPA program that I was finally spurred to go back and finish. Knowing that his professional experience, which was in many ways very similar to my own, was enough to offer a perspective that students could benefit and learn from was incredibly motivating. It changed how I viewed my own experience and how I could be doing more to leverage it for the benefit of others. 

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult? 

Camuglia family
 
Camuglia family today
The Kristen Camuglia's family when she earned in MPA in 2016 and today.                    

My advice to someone going back to school is to stop making excuses and just do it. You’re never going to be 100 percent ready and the timing is never going to be exactly perfect, which just means that every moment is an equally good enough time to start. When I was contemplating going back to school, I was also contemplating starting a family. Of course, being pregnant for nine months of the program and having a baby for an additional 14 months of the program wasn’t ideal, but it was doable because I decided it was doable. You’ll be surprised how quickly things fall into place once you’ve decided on something.  

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University? 

One thing that surprised me about Brandman was how accessible it was. From the affordable tuition to the flexible learning environment to the dedicated student advisor, it felt like I was set up for success from the beginning. I never felt lost in the shuffle. Instead, I always felt welcomed and encouraged. 

What would you have done differently? 

The one thing I would have done differently is not have waited so long to go back. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. There’s no question that things like marriages and mortgages and kids and careers make the prospect of things like projects and papers harder to fathom, let alone thrive through. It would have been a juggling act no matter what, but not waiting until so many things were already in motion for me is what I’d change if I could do it again.    

What motivated you while going back to school?

As a lifelong lover of learning, earning a master’s degree was always something I expected from myself. Checking that box and having it finally off my to-do list was motivation enough for me. 

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