A Passion for Public Service with Rafael Baptista

Posted on October 30, 2012

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Today we welcome Rafael Baptista to the ELGL blog family. His new blog feature, “A Passion for Public Service” will detail the decisions he faces after graduating from Willamette University. Each of you can help Rafael as he sorts through what do to next. Specifically, Rafael is considering pursuing an MPA and would welcome the chance to talk with ELGL members who have taken a similar path whether at Kansas, UNC, USC, PSU, Oregon, University of Washington or elsewhere.

ELGL thanks Rafael for his willingness to share his journey with blog readers. If you have met Rafael or read about him (related link: New ELGL Member Rafael Baptista Helps Others Assert Political Rights) you know that Rafael will make a difference in public service through passion and hard work.

Reach out to Rafael (like Gov. Kitzhaber is doing when he met a young Rafael) via email at [email protected]. And now let’s read more about how Rafael got to this point.

One of my most powerful memories is from when I was in the 5th grade. My mom wanted to teach me the importance of civic engagement and took me to an Al Gore for President event. Seating was limited, and priority was given to registered voters. I still remember being told that we couldn’t enter: I was too young and my mom wasn’t an American citizen yet. That denial sparked a passion for public service that drove me to political internships, competitive debate, and a politics major at Willamette University this past May.

After college I participated in a political fellowship with the Oregon Bus Project, which led to the opportunity to run the field operation of a state representative race in Washington County. Staffing a campaign was a very logical next step in my life journey, and it felt right going in. However, between the partisan nature of campaigns and the gridlock that campaigns create, I soon realized that this wasn’t me. What I most value in public service is the opportunity to work with, not against, people; what I really strive at is finding solutions and common ground for issues of social and economic importance.

Proud of my work and knowing that the campaign was in a good place, I made the decision to leave. I left richer for the experience, and with great respect for ‘my’ candidate and the dedicated campaign staffers and volunteers who will continue to work extremely hard to elect him. But I also left with no regrets, having learned that – at least at this time – professionally staffing a campaign is not what I want to do or how I want to serve my country.

After much thought, soul searching, and discussion with ELGL members, I have made the decision to further my education. I will apply for admission to a Master in Public Administration in Fall 2013, while I will also look for a job to help me pay for graduate school. Over the next several months, I will be writing about my job search and graduate-school application journey. I hope my struggles, successes, insights, and experiences will be of interest and use to ELGL members. I have come to truly value and enjoy talking to people in ELGL about their experiences, so feel free to reach out and start a conversation!

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