Alumni Spotlight – Stephanie Watkins-Cruz ‘18

From time to time, we will be featuring alumni and students in our program.  Mostly so you can hear about what people do with an MPA and what gets them ticking with regards to public service and public administration.  Here is our first!

“Public service is a great way to extend the reach of those fighting for their communities, homes, and livelihood”

Stephanie came into the program passionate about public service and specifically affordable housing and housing insecurities.  “Housing is more than a roof and four walls,” she said. “It involves your surroundings, the health of your environment, and what you have and don’t have access to. At home is where your identity takes root.”

She chose Carolina MPA and UNC because of “the enormous sense of community and UNC’s unique role in improving North Carolina.” She is the recipient of a Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship, a Nannette V. Mengel Scholarship, and the Gene Rainey Outstanding Service Award.

During her tenure as an MPA student, she worked as a housing intern in Orange County as well as a collaborative home repair and modification coordinator at the Chatham County Council on Aging. Watkins-Cruz also serves as a member of the board of directors for America’s Promise Alliance, a collaboration between hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, communities, educators, and citizens dedicated to creating the conditions for success for young people. These experiences have shaped her perspective of the program and brought the MPA classroom curriculum to life.

Watkins-Cruz currently works as a Policy Analyst for the Manager’s Office in Chatham County, NC.  She has been a freelance blogger for Asheville Grit and has published several pieces on Huffington Post. She commented, “I have really gotten into writing pieces about the intersection between housing and education.” She observes that there have been silos between housing and other social policy issues and is determined to be a leader who can help tear down those silos and connect people to the various and sometimes complex resources they need.