Alumni Profiles

Alumni Profile: Greg Roe, MPA

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Meet alumni Greg Roe, MPA

Greg Roe currently works as the Chief Executive Officer for United Way of Linn County (Oregon). He graduated from the Master of Public Administration Program in December of 1998.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree at Northern Arizona University?

A: I decided on Northern Arizona University for two reasons. First, I was offered a graduate assistant position within the Department of Politics and International Affairs. My graduate assistant position was with Dr. Robert Poirier. The location of Flagstaff was also a major factor in deciding to attend NAU. The entire Northern Arizona region is beautiful and an outdoor paradise.    

Q: What was your favorite class in the program? What did you learn? What skills did that class offer you?

A: The class that I enjoyed most was Theories of Organization (POS 543). What I learned was that there are countless ways to view an organization. For example, you can view an organization as a machine or a living organism. People and processes are treated very differently within each of these models. The class helped teach me skills that I use to this day. As CEO of the United Way of Linn County, I view United Way as a living organism where everyone is working together for the overall health of the organization. I want employees to be treated well and be willing to take risks to succeed without worry of failure. I want the United Way to be adaptable to change in an ever changing economy and world. If you view an organization as a machine with unchanging parts, this is not possible.

Q: During your time as a graduate assistant, how did the position help you succeed in the program?

A: At the time, Dr. Poirier was researching water use in the Grand Canyon and I was assisting him with this research. He was very helpful in teaching me research techniques that I would use in other classes. In 1997, you still had to visit the library and comb through pages of information for useful material. Today, a lot of that information can be found on the web. It was very helpful.

Q: How did a graduate degree from NAU help you achieve your current position?

A: I have been in my current position since February of 2002. My MPA degree from NAU has helped me turn the United Way of Linn County into one of the top non-profits in our area. We are recognized as a community leader in social service programming. The administrative skills I learned at NAU helped me accomplish goals like building a low income dental clinic for Linn County.  Those skills also helped me build a 211 help line, where people can access services in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties by simply dialing 211.   

Q: If you had done anything differently as part of your graduate school experience, what would that have been?

A: I really had the perfect graduate school experience. The education was excellent and life changing.  Furthermore, the professors were wonderful to work with and really cared about your success. I feel very fortunate.

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Alumni Greg Roe explored northern Arizona trails

Q: What was your favorite part of living in Flagstaff?

A: My favorite part of living in Flagstaff was the outdoor opportunities. I hiked everywhere. Where else can you drive to Sedona one day and the Grand Canyon the next? Enough said!

Q: Are there any other thought you might share with incoming graduate students to the Politics & International Affairs program?

A: The best advice I can give anyone in college or the graduate program is to get your degree completed as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in college, the higher your student loan debt. I run across a lot of people these days with over $100,000 in student loan debt. This debt puts a major burden on individuals just going into the workplace.

NAU T. Mark Montoya, PhD reflects on graduate experiences

T. Mark Montoya, PhD currently holds the position of lecturer in Northern Arizona University's Ethnic Studies Program. Montoya's teaching and research interests include race politics, US-Mexico borderlands, Chican@ and Latin@ studies, cultural politics, and citizenship. He currently sits on the Commission on Ethnic Diversity as co-chair.

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T. Mark Montoya, PhD, lectures in the Ethnic Studies Program at Northern Arizona University

Q: Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree at Northern Arizona?

A: I was drawn to the Department's commitment to diversity politics (and to post-positivist approaches!), to the University's commitment to challenging conventional modes of learning, and to Flagstaff's commitment to community.

Q: How did your work as a graduate assistant affect your experience as a graduate student?

A: As a GA, I was able to gain experience in (online and in-person) classrooms, learn to develop curriculum and syllabi, and I worked with students, conducting lectures and grading student work. Later in my graduate career, I had the opportunity to teach my own class, which was a 300-level course (The Study of Latin American Politics). The class had about 30 upper-division students, which helped me make sure that I gave my full effort--there was to be no slacking with students who were enrolled in a class they all wanted to be in.

Q: How did a graduate degree from NAU help you achieve your current position?

A: As NAU was developing an Ethnic Studies Program, I was working on my Doctoral Dissertation. Because of my fields of study, I was asked to develop what would be NAU's first Chican@/Latin@ Studies course. With the success of the course and the program, I was asked to develop and teach additional courses for the Ethnic Studies Program.

Q: Reflecting on your current publishing projects, how did a graduate degree from NAU help prepare you?

A: NAU and Flagstaff have become an interesting case study in a lot of my research. This area is a unique laboratory to study issues of politics, race/ethnicity, and social movements.

Q: What is your favorite part of living in Flagstaff?

A: For a city its size, Flagstaff has a lot to offer. There is always something going on, and there are always folks that share similar interests.

Q: Are there any other thoughts you might share with incoming graduate students to the Politics & International Affairs Program?

A: In this program, I learned how to organize and how to question, confront, and challenge power structures. If I could offer advice, it would be to know why you want to pursue a graduate degree. There must be passion and drive behind your decision; but more importantly know that while obtaining a graduate degree may often seem like a lonely process, you are not alone.