Alumni Spotlight – Kenika Lorenzo-Elarco

How has your MPA helped you?

My MPA has proven to be an invaluable asset in both my education and my career. The Public Administration program provided me with a wide-ranging set of knowledge and skills in the areas of research, public policy, leadership and ethics, and management, allowing me to become an effective public leader here in Hawaiʻi. During my time as a graduate student with PUBA, I was fortunate to secure a Graduate Research Assistant position which later evolved into a coveted faculty position in the College of Education, where I focus on program evaluation. The education and training I received through PUBA have been instrumental in helping me excel in this role and beyond. Furthermore, PUBA provided me with the opportunity to build pilina with esteemed faculty, classmates, and public sector leaders, who share an unwavering passion for public service. I also had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Yu and a few classmates on a research project, which led to a publication in the Journal of Public Affairs Education. This experience was truly transformative and not only enhanced my research and writing skills but allowed me to leave the program as a published author, a distinction that has undoubtedly helped to distinguish me from my peers in the competitive job market. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Yu, and it’s truly a testament to the quality of education and mentorship that I received throughout my MPA. 

What is your advice for prospective or new students?

My advice for prospective or new students is to seize every opportunity that PUBA has to offer. It’s easy to just go through the motions of reading, attending lectures, and doing homework. But, I encourage you to actively engage with the coursework, your peers, and most importantly, the faculty. PUBA has a very diverse faculty team, and they each excel n their distinctive specializations. Take the time to learn about them, their research, and their accomplishments. The pilina you make during your time in PUBA will extend far beyond graduation and may even lead to new research and career opportunities. It’s important to find balance in all that you do––your personal life, work life, and your academics. The MPA program can be demanding, but finding a healthy balance will help you to stay motivated and on track throughout your studies. Remember to take time for self-care, to pursue your passions, and always remember your “why” – your purpose and motivation for pursuing a career in the public sector. The field is challenging and incredibly rewarding, but PUBA will prepare you to make a meaningful impact on any community you work in. Stay committed to your goals and never lose sight of the value that you’ll bring to the lāhui through your work in the public sector. E mālama pono!

Current Position

Junior Specialist Faculty | Evaluation Manager – College of Education, Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa