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Roads to AmeriCorps and Rockefeller College Converged into One Sure Path for New Grad

Pou Mok graduated on Sunday with a goal of fighting poverty and with invaluable skills and connections acquired through Rockefeller College's MPA program.

Pou Mok in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 7, 2015) — After graduating from New York University with a degree in economics in 2011, Pou Mok found himself with little professional experience and lacking a life’s direction.

The first bit of good fortune for Pou, who immigrated to Staten Island from China when he was nine years old, was when he found out about, and eventually joined, AmeriCorps VISTA, the national community service program. The second blessing was getting assigned by the program to Albany.

Working to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty, Pou says, “I witnessed firsthand the value of public service. At the same time, I also grasped how difficult and strenuous it was to fight poverty.”

The challenge was to acquire the skills to continue that fight professionally — “to try to make a difference on a bigger scale.” He found an ideal place to begin his pursuit right in his new home town: Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, and its Master of Public Administration program, from which he graduated yesterday in ceremonies at the SEFCU Arena.

Soon after beginning his MPA studies in the fall of 2013, Pou found out the value, not only of the program’s quality, but of UAlbany’s extensive alumni network. Jennifer Maclaughlin, the College’s director of internships and career programs, put him in touch with an alumnus who had taken advantage of the summer Semester in Washington (D.C.) program two years before.

“I was able to get a sense of what the internship would be like, and it helped me make up my mind about going to Washington,” said Pou. In D.C., he worked as a statistician student trainee in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Employment and Benefit Statistics Branch, collecting financial information on state and local government pension funds, “relying heavily,” he said, on the skills he acquired in Assistant Professor David Matkin’s course in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management.

The Rockefeller College network also continued to pay dividends during Pou’s time in D.C. One of those alumni was Shannin O’Neill, MPA ’02, a staffer with the Government Accountability Office. “I always look forward to talking to students about the many great opportunities there are in D.C.,” said Shannin.”Particularly so meeting with ambitious students such as Pou who take their future and career seriously.”

Today, Pou Mok has both a serious and clear vision. He is currently a training specialist for Rockefeller College’s Professional Development Program and, upon graduation, he aims to continue working in the public sector in the area of health and human services or public finance. He’ll do so amply equipped with the confidence and skills he gained at Rockefeller College.

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