Graduate Programs

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I sat down recently to speak with one of our most recent graduates, Kudirat Shittu. Kudirat graduated in December 2022 with a Master of Public Administration from Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Our students may receive an MPA from our College of Arts and Sciences, but it is offered via the Rackham school in Ann Arbor, an opportunity Kudirat was eager to take advantage of. As she was an international student, I wanted to speak with her about her experiences here at UM-Flint, and her ambitions for the future. 

Kudirat is from Lagos, which she proudly stated to me as we sat down to talk, is the largest city in Nigeria. Her pride for her city came across in every word she spoke as I asked her a few questions about why she chose to come to Flint in the first place. It was evident to me within just a few sentences that she’s both incredibly passionate about her plans and her education, but also absolutely community-minded. 

“I want to show my community that there is a future, physically and practically,” she said to me. “It’s up to us to work together to make our future.” 

Kudirat’s journey to UM-Flint was a fairly typical one for our international students. She had a strong interest in public administration, and this interest brought her to looking up which colleges were best online. UM-Flint popped up among the first ten she looked into, and Kudirat was attracted to the fact that we were among the oldest programs in the U.S., and that our MPA is a Rackham School of Graduate Studies program. It didn’t take much more for her to take the plunge. 

Kudirat was impressed with her program– she told me that what she liked most about her classes was how practical they were. She always felt like she was receiving the most up-to-date information, and was extremely pleased with her ability to take high-quality courses here in Flint. Of course, adjusting to a foreign environment was difficult, but Kudirat told me that her faculty helped quite a lot with that. 

“Our professors were always trying to help us international students fit in.” She said, “They were really dedicated to helping us out.” 

Now that she’s graduated, Kudirat has big plans back home. She told me her overall goal is to work in nonprofit administration, providing services to areas where she feels the government has fallen short. She loved that our MPA program has a specialization in nonprofit administration and social entrepreneurship and plans to use the connections she’s formed here in the U.S. to help nonprofits in both Nigeria and the U.S. collaborate to help more people. With that in mind, she’s particularly passionate about working with nonprofits with an environmental goal– one of her ultimate goals is to reduce people’s need to rely on cars, and make alternative transportation reliable and safe. Eventually, she plans on opening her own nonprofit environmental organization once she has more experience in the field. 

Kudirat informed me that environmental justice and equity often go hand in hand– to improve one, often improves the other on a local and international scale. As part of her studies, she worked on researching equity within the U.S. policy on International Students. She presented her paper “U.S. Policy on International Student Immigration: An Analysis of the Need for Tuition Equity” at the Michigan Political Science Association’s annual conference in October of 2022. She believes that in order to raise equity around the globe, there must be global and governmental collaboration to commit to helping raise social equity. In addition to her work there, she also engaged in local community work here in Flint, working on a grant proposal for STEM equity with the National Science Foundation with some local groups. 

Kudirat became very attached to Flint, in addition to her love for her home over the course of her studies. She formed many partnerships with the local community, and wants to bring that sense of hope and progress with her wherever she goes. She told me that she wants to continue to fight against the reputation that still lingers over the city from the water crisis, and wants to see Flint continue to change for the better. She loves the quiet of Flint, and how close everything is together– she particularly enjoyed going to the Farmer’s Market on a nice spring day, and picking from the produce there. 

As Kudirat and I wrapped up our interview, Kudirat asked me to pass on a message to the student population, both graduate and undergraduate, of UM-Flint. She told me, “If you do not understand, ask for help! Even when you don’t need help, you’re just curious, ask! Everyone at the University is on this journey with you!” 

“See your program as a race, and keep on pushing! Slow and steady wins the race– it’s achievable, just take it day by day!” 

Kudirat was extremely enthusiastic and pleasant to talk to. I hope that her advice helps anyone who reads this as much as I enjoyed hearing it. If you would like to hear more from Kudirat and her experiences at UM-Flint, give her featured episode on our Graduate Programs podcast, Victors in Grad School, a listen! You can find that here: Thank you for all that you do, Kudirat!