Whitney Philippi

Master of Public Service

Whitnye PhilippiWhitney Philippi comes to the Master of Public Service program with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Trent University and five years of work experience in Student Affairs. “My position at Trent was funded by provincial grants and focused on programming for first generation students. That is where my understanding of policy and program implementation began to develop.” Having dealt with the challenges of implementing policies on the ground, finding ways to turn money and mandates into results, it was an easy transition into the program for Whitney.

When the MPS program launched at UWaterloo, Whitney watched its development. “I looked into the program in its first year, 3 years before applying myself. What stood out to me was the focus on public service as opposed to political science or public administration.”  Like many others, Whitney was drawn to the co-op component of the program. “The paid co-op is an essential part of the program. It provides you with real world experience and the chance to apply your in-class knowledge.” She also notes the small class size and interdisciplinary nature of the program as huge assets. The program prepares students to work in all levels government, addressing issues of federal, provincial and municipal importance through each term. It begins with two semesters of course work, followed by two semesters of co-op, and culminates in a major team project.

There are active cohorts in each stage of the program every year and that overlap is used as tool for the students to network.  “The faculty and staff provide a lot of opportunities for us to interact with the different cohorts and learn from each other.” Recently, the cohort completing their major team project was on campus to deliver presentations on preparing for and applying to co-op positions.  “It was an opportunity for them to develop their skills, and it gave us valuable insight into the application and placement process.” The program is also host to faculty members from a variety of different departments including political science, economics, English and business. “We learn to analyze policy incorporating the perspectives of the diverse academic disciplines that are taught in the program. The professors are really accessible and constantly encourage us to ask questions.”

As for the future, Whitney’s ultimate goal is to become a politician. “I want to use my understanding of public policy as an elected representative to make better choices and create better policies, while supporting public servants.” She jokes that she is the only one in the program willing to admit their desire to become a politician. “Policy creation, implementation, and evaluation involves working with the public more and more. I want to use the skills gained in the MPS program to engage with people on the ground and create a positive impact on the lives of those around me.”

January 2014 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

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