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Podcast: The Future of Public Administration with University of Alabama at Birmingham Students

Posted on February 16, 2021


UAB Students GovLove

 

Faiza Mawani UABMary Gilmore UABKyle Adams UAB
Faiza Mawani
Undergraduate Student
University of Alabama at Birmingham
LinkedIn | Twitter
Mary Gilmore
Undergraduate Student
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Bio | Twitter
Kyle Adams
Undergraduate Student
University of Alabama at Birmingham
LinkedIn | Twitter

Learning about public administration. Three undergraduate students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Faiza Mawani, Mary Gilmore, & Kyle Adams, joined the podcast to discuss what they learned from a class about public administration. The students shared their notions of the profession before and after the class. Each guest highlighted their favorite GovLove episode and how it helped form their public service portfolio, an assignment in which each student created a vision and mission for public service. Lastly, they commented on what they are seeking from future employers.

Host: Alyssa Dinberg

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Learn More

The University of Alabama at Birmingham – Department of Political Science and Public Administration

10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Public Administration

Benefits of a Public Administration Degree


Episode Transcription

 

Alyssa Dinberg  00:11

Coming to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Gov Love, a podcast about local government. Gov Love is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Alyssa Dingberg, Recovery Coordinator for Clear Creek County. And today I’m joined by Mary Gilmore, Kyle Adams, and Faiza Mawani. Welcome to Gov Love. Today’s episode is part two of our series about the future of public administration from inside the classroom at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In our first episode, we talked about the work that Dr. Peter Jones is doing to teach and develop the next generation of public servants. Today we’ll talk with three of his undergraduate students about their understanding of public service before and after the class and what impact that’s made on both their professional and personal lives.Thanks for joining me, guys. I’m super excited to have you here.

Mary Gilmore  01:05

Really excited to be here.

Kyle Adams  01:07

Thanks for having us.

Faiza Mawani  01:08

Thank you.

Alyssa Dinberg  01:09

Well, I know you guys are really busy with class, but I appreciate you taking the time. Did you guys just start classes?

Mary Gilmore  01:16

I think we’re in week three. 

Alyssa Dinberg  01:19

Week three. Okay,

Kyle Adams  01:20

That sounds about right.

Alyssa Dinberg  01:23

All right. So before we get started with our interview, we’re gonna start with our signature lightning round, I have four questions for you, just so that our listeners can get to know you a little bit better. For this question, we’re gonna start with Mary, what has been in your mind The best thing to come out of the pandemic.

Mary Gilmore  01:44

I feel like for me, at least with being at home and alone, a lot of the time, I feel like there was a lot of personal growth and understanding that came out of it. And I know that sounds cliche, but I got really deep into my Myers Briggs personality test. I really got to read up on that and read some books that I’ve been wanting to read for a while since you know, the hustle and bustle of school. But getting moved online, I feel like I really got the time to learn a bit more about myself.

 

Alyssa Dinberg  02:12

Good for you. I think I think a lot of people either took the like, I’m gonna really dive into myself and improve my health and my mental being, or they just completely, like drowned out what was going on in the world with TV, and I definitely am the latter. I got lost in TV and tried, and unintentionally didn’t really think about what was going on. So, but good for you. That’s good for you. What about you, Kyle?

Kyle Adams  02:41

Yeah, similarly, I think self care was a big part of me, for me during the pandemic. I’ve gotten the chance to start running like every single day now. So every day I just get up at like 6:30 in the morning and start running around campus. That’s like the primary exercise that I do now. Then I’m hopefully getting into some boxing soon as well. So we’ll see what happens.

Alyssa Dinberg  03:02

Oh, wow. Good for you. Both of you are so healthy with your coping mechanisms. I appreciate it. Faiza, what about you? 

Faiza Mawani  03:13

Um, well, I wish I was as healthy and dedicated as Mary and Kyle, but I mostly just used the time in quarantine, to follow up on the Tik Tok trends like the coffee, the whipped coffee, and all. And I actually had the opportunity to do a few virtual camps through my community. And it was really convenient since everyone had joined from their homes from the comfort of their homes, and could essentially use Zoom to the maximum benefit. So yeah, that’s what I did.

Alyssa Dinberg  03:45

That’s awesome. I definitely watched a lot of Tik Tok videos like, yeah, it was a good it was a good way to pass the time for sure. All right, so my next question, Kyle, I’m going to start with you on this one. What is your most used app on your cell phone?

Kyle Adams  04:04

I think my most used app is probably Instagram right now. It used to be Tik Tok over the summer, but I called myself like walking away from Tik Tok, but I ended up just going on Instagram regularly now. So you know, I guess it’s just a crutch for me. I just scroll through Instagram aimlessly.

Alyssa Dinberg  04:23

Yep. I feel that for sure. sighs Faiza, what about you?

Faiza Mawani  04:26

Um, it might be hard to guess. But it is Tik Tok. You see the trends you know, it’s a really good pastime, and it’s a nice break from reality.

Alyssa Dinberg  04:37

Do you make videos or do you just consume them? 

Faiza Mawani  04:40

Um, sometimes I’ll make them. I think I make really funny content. But also, I’ve made my account private because some people might not understand my humor. Um, but I simply, yeah, I participated in some of the trends during quarantine. But now I just like to watch

Alyssa Dinberg  04:58

Awesome. Mary, last but not least, what is your most used app? 

Mary Gilmore  05:03

Mine is definitely YouTube. I feel like the sheer amount of content on that app is honestly incredible. I feel like especially with it being an election year and everything going on, it was just a really good way for me to get some news and figure out what’s going on. And I also got to get really deep into like Internet drama and what’s going on. It was like a guilty pleasure. But it was also informative, too. So I definitely spend way more time on there than I probably should.

Alyssa Dinberg  05:36

That’s awesome. I have never really gotten onto the YouTube bandwagon. I mean, I like go on there and search for specific things. But I’ve never, never really gotten lost in YouTube. But I know a lot of people do. 

Mary Gilmore  05:49

There’s a lot of black holes, too, I’ll tell you that.

Alyssa Dinberg  05:52

I have heard, I have heard. All right. Next question. Faiza, let’s start with you. I know that your professor, Dr. Jones, used Parks and Rec quite frequently in your class. So I was just wondering, is there a character on Parks and Rec that you most identify with?

Faiza Mawani  06:15

Okay, so full disclosure, Parks and Rec is not my like ideal government Show. I’m much more of a West Wing girl. Um, but if I’d have to choose someone from Parks and Rec, I think I would align myself with Ann Perkins, simply because I consider her to be like the most down to earth of the people I’ve seen in the episodes we have to watch for class. So yeah.

Alyssa Dinberg  06:38

That’s that’s a good answer. I love West Wing too, but parks and Rec is are good like mindless. 

Faiza Mawani  06:42

Yeah, for surely. 

Alyssa Dinberg  06:44

But yeah, I totally, I love West Wing. Kyle, what about you?

Kyle Adams  06:49

You know, I love Parks and Rec so much. I’m literally wearing Parks and Rec socks right now. Tom Haverford. Yeah, Tom Haverford has to be probably my favorite character on Parks and Rec, I think.

Mary Gilmore  07:03

Oh, Tom, what a guy, what a guy. Yeah, he has some good scenes. I like the one where he’s like, makes the club in that warehouse. That was a good one. Mary, what about you?  So I think sometimes Leslie Knope gets a bad rep. But I really do think she has some admirable character traits that, you know, really, you can tell she’s in it for the right reasons. So I feel like part of me, like on my crazy days, I do resonate the most with her, but I think she is genuine and she really does care about what she’s doing. So I would say her definitely.

Alyssa Dinberg  07:44

I like Leslie. I agree. I think she does sometimes get a bad rep. But she has a good heart. She’s in it for the right reasons. 

Mary Gilmore  07:51

I think so.

Alyssa Dinberg  07:53

Alright, last question. And this is a question I ask on every episode. If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why? And we’ll start with Mary.

Mary Gilmore  08:05

This is a really hard question. Um, I don’t know why, but I’m tempted to say a pumpkin. They just seem fun. You can eat them. They’re very sporty. They’re just very versatile. And you know, they make up like a huge part of Halloween. So I feel like I don’t know. Wait, no. Oh, my gosh, I think pumpkins are fruits. I feel like I read that somewhere. They

Alyssa Dinberg  08:28

Are they? It’s fine. It’s fine. I’ll let it slide. Yeah, it’s acceptable. Pretty much everything’s acceptable for this answer. Um, Kyle, what about you? If you could be a vegetable, What would you be and why?

Kyle Adams  08:45

If I could be a vegetable, um, I think the vegetable I’d be is probably broccoli, because I think broccoli is a pretty good looking vegetable and green is my favorite color, so.

Alyssa Dinberg  08:58

That’s a good answer. I appreciate that. All right, last but not least, Faiza, what would you be? 

Faiza Mawani  09:04

Okay, I’m not a fan of greens. So I have to say potatoes, because I also think they’re pretty versatile. I think you can make fries out of them. They taste good almost always. Um, so yeah, I’d be a potato.

Alyssa Dinberg  09:17

We, I think that’s probably the most used answer. I don’t know. I should like, I should track that. I should, like, make a spreadsheet where I track what people’s answer is. I think a lot of people say potatoes. Okay, no, your answer is it’s a good answer.

Faiza Mawani  09:34

Okay, I was gonna change it to lettuce then. I don’t want to be basic.

Alyssa Dinberg  09:37

I mean, lettuce is also a good answer. I don’t think anyone’s ever said that. But you’re right. Potatoes are super versatile. You can make them in so many ways. 

Faiza Mawani  09:45

Okay, cool. I’ll just keep that answer then.

Alyssa Dinberg  09:49

All right. Well, now that we have done our lightning round, let’s move into the meat of our interview. I’m really excited to learn from you guys about your perceptions of local government before and after and what you learned in your class with Dr. Jones. But before we get started, if you could just quickly tell us what your major is, when you’re anticipating to graduate, and if you have plans or wishes for after graduation. And Kyle, if you could start for us.

Kyle Adams  10:22

Yeah, um, well, my major right now is political science. I intend on graduating in May of 2024. And after college, I’m hoping, well after undergrad I’m hoping on going to law school. 

Alyssa Dinberg  10:35

Awesome. That’s awesome. Faiza, what about you?

Faiza Mawani  10:40

Similar to Kyle, I am also going to be graduating in May of 2024. I am currently a double major in political science and history. And I think I want to go to law school. But I think it comes down to whether or not I want to pursue law or education. 

Alyssa Dinberg  10:58

Cool. That’s awesome. Mary, what about you?

Mary Gilmore  11:02

So I’m actually a sophomore studying public health. And after graduating in May of 2023, I do plan on going to grad school and doing a coordinated degree program in Masters of Public Health and Masters of Public Administration. And actually, Dr. Jones reached out to me and let me know that we had a coordinated degree in those two fields. So shout out to him for letting me know about that. Because I definitely think what I was missing from the Master’s of Public Health degree program was that public administration aspect of it, that kind of pulls in public service and all that. So I’m really excited. And looking forward to that. Hopefully, I’ll graduate from that in some point in 2026. 

Alyssa Dinberg  11:51

Wow, I have to say that when I was your age in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I’m really impressed that all three of you have plans. And even if those plans don’t stick, like you’re working toward something, I feel like when I was a freshman and sophomore, I was just kind of like walking around campus, having no clue who I was, no idea what I wanted to do. So props to you guys. That’s awesome. All right, so I am really curious about what you knew about public service prior to your class with Dr. Jones. And, as we talked about, in the first episode of this series, you took an intro to public service class with Dr. Jones. And it was a lot of interviews, or a lot of meetings with real public servants. And a lot of like case studies using Gov Love, and Parks and Rec, and other real world experiences to learn about public service. So prior to that, I’m just curious what you knew. Faiza, let’s start with you.

Faiza Mawani  13:00

So I considered prior to this course public service to be my public school teachers, police officers, firefighters, just the people that we would consider, I guess, first responders in today’s language. That’s who public like when I heard public service, that’s immediately who I think of. But I realized through this course, that a lot of jobs qualified as public service, and it doesn’t have to be limited to first responders. So yeah.

Alyssa Dinberg  13:30

I would agree with that. I think before I started going to school for public service, I also thought of like firefighters and police officers and, and teachers as public servants. I didn’t I didn’t know the full scale of what it meant to be a public servant. So you’re definitely not alone in that. Kyle, what about you?

Kyle Adams  13:52

I think I was probably on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as Faiza. I was definitely looking more at the individuals that were in office, elected officials, like governors, mayors, all the way from local government to national government. And I never really paid attention a lot to some of the individuals that typically worked for the government and weren’t elected to their positions.

Alyssa Dinberg  14:14

Interesting. So you only thought about the elected side versus the staff side? 

Kyle Adams  14:19

Yeah.

Alyssa Dinberg  14:20

Interesting. All right. Mary, what about you?

Mary Gilmore  14:23

I’d agree with Kyle and that whenever I would think of public service, what immediately would ring a bell for me where this elected officials, specifically the ones, you know, in DC, the larger offices, I didn’t really give much thought to the local officials. And that’s definitely change from where I’m at now.

Alyssa Dinberg  14:43

Interesting. So, are you able to tell me some of your favorite things that you learned in class? I know that’s kind of a broad question, but surely there’s like one or two things that really stuck out in the class that you took and Mary was there anything, anything that stuck out for you?

Mary Gilmore  15:03

I think what stuck out to me at one point, we went over a section where we talked about ethics and morals and how those play into governing. And I feel like that really kind of resonated with me just because I’m a very, like, morals based ethics based person, especially when it comes to how I do decision making and things like that. So it was really important to me that we discussed that and that we got to kind of see like, different strategies that were applied to decision making that a lot of our leaders may follow fall into.

Alyssa Dinberg  15:43

Interesting. Did you use case studies in that portion? 

Mary Gilmore  15:47

Yes. So I think our version of case studies were when we had those elected officials come and speak to us and give their real life experiences, which was one of my favorite parts of the class, for sure.

Alyssa Dinberg  15:58

Yeah, that that definitely would be great. I remember when we studied ethics in my master’s program, we read stories. So our case studies were were stories that we read, and, and then we would talk through the different decisions that the staff or elected official had to take, or could take. And we talked through, like, what we would do and why we would do it. And then the professor would talk through, like, from an ethical standpoint, what the best decision to make was, but it it really just highlighted that there are some really, really, really hard decisions to make and making sure that you stay on that ethical path is really important, even if you don’t like the decision that you have to make.

Mary Gilmore  16:40

Absolutely.

Alyssa Dinberg  16:43

Kyle, did anything stick out to you in the class?

Kyle Adams  16:46

Yeah, um, in writing our portfolio, one of the biggest parts of it for me was writing the vision aspect of that. And when I was writing my vision, I could really get an idea of what I wanted to do and why I wanted to get into public service, which isn’t something I really sat down and thought about, prior to writing that down for an assignment in class, and it has become so important to me. And I continuously look back at it and make sure that it’s like, current, based off of what I continue to see, as I try to pursue like a future in public service.

Alyssa Dinberg  17:20

Did you want did you want to be in public service before the class? Or was that a shift that happened based on what you learned?

Kyle Adams  17:29

Oh, yeah, I’ve definitely been interested in public service for a very long time period. And I’ve been doing just government programs and things like that for a very long time. Um, so so Public Service has always been, like my outlook, but never really in the form that this class has turned it into.

Alyssa Dinberg  17:49

Awesome. That’s great. Faiza, what about you? Did you have any big takeaways? 

Faiza Mawani  17:55

For sure. Considering I had that kind of stereotypical view of public service before taking the course. After it, I realized that through the guest speakers, and even through the portfolio that we made that, like Kyle, I could potentially go into public service. And I think the most reinforced lesson that we got from each guest speaker was that there’s no direct path to public service. It just comes at you like an opportunity. And it’s up to you whether or not to take it. I personally have never, unlike Kyle, seen myself in public service. But I realized that like maybe one day, if that opportunity is to come to me, I would know if I would want to do it or not. Because through the my portfolio, I was able to discover what my true passion is. And that’s essentially just serving the marginalized community that exist in America overall, specifically immigrants. And so through this class, I was able to pinpoint that, and I was able to realize that I can do things through policy, not just through my own actions in my own time, if that makes sense.

Alyssa Dinberg  19:05

Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. So it’s an amazing realization. And I think you hit on something that’s so important. And I wish somebody had told me this when I was your age. Just because I think I know where I want to go doesn’t mean that’s where I’m going to end up. And having that flexibility to just basically be along for the ride and using all of your opportunities to build on top of each other to get to where you’re going is just so important. I never Yeah, I like never considered public service. I didn’t really even know what it was. And yeah.

Faiza Mawani  19:47

Yeah, definitely. And I feel like I think we are as a society becoming a little bit more open to the idea of being flexible due to just the pandemic itself, right? Like we’ve had to change so much. Our lifestyles have gone from being outside all day to wearing a mask wherever, wherever you go whenever you go. And I think that’s just kind of like a lesson within itself.

Alyssa Dinberg  20:10

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point that I honestly hadn’t really even thought about. So was your class, when was your class? When did it take place?

Faiza Mawani  20:21

It actually was the perfect timing. It was. It started August 2020, and ended December 2020. So it was during election period as well.

Alyssa Dinberg  20:32

Okay, so it was during the pandemic, were you completely remote?

Faiza Mawani  20:36

We had the option to be, yeah. It was hybrid. 

Alyssa Dinberg  20:40

Okay, gotcha. Yeah, that, it would be an interesting time to take a class like that during a pandemic. Yeah. So I know that Mary mentioned, you guys had several guest speakers in class, who work in either local government, state government. I’m curious who the most interesting guest speaker was, and what did you take away from their talk? Kyle, we’ll start with you.

Kyle Adams  21:07

I think the most interesting speaker for me was probably Commissioner Lashunda Scales. So she’s a commissioner for Jefferson County. And she definitely gave me like this really different elected official view that wasn’t very much focused on what was going on inside of her office and things like that it was more of what was going on in her community. So she stressed the input and really emphasize making sure that she was speaking to her community, inviting students to come to her office and learn more things. And what really stuck out to me more so after I’d been able to speak to her is that over my time in the rest of the semester, from her speech, or her her discussion with our class, to now I’ve heard her name multiple times just throughout the community as just like a really loved individual based off of her emphasis on making sure that she’s reaching out to the community rather than just serving as a commissioner in going to her office and going to work every single day.

Alyssa Dinberg  22:10

Was she a state Commissioner? What was she a commissioner over?

Kyle Adams  22:13

She’s a county commissioner for Jefferson County.

Alyssa Dinberg  22:16

Yeah. Okay. Cool. That’s awesome. What about you, Faiza, did you have a favorite guest speaker?

Faiza Mawani  22:23

So I promise this was not planned, but mine was also Commissioner Lashunda Scales. Similarly to Kyle, um, I think the most valuable lesson that I took away from that her speech was her transparency. Oftentimes, we just elect our officials, and we kind of hand them the responsibility of doing what’s right, we just have that blind faith in them. But also, when we don’t see progress, we start questioning our judgment, right? But what Ms. Scales, she talked about the significance of transparency of bureaucrats, and how if we are placing our trust in them, we should not be afraid to ask what’s happening in the status quo. And I think something that really resonated with me was when she said, You should pick and choose your battles because we have to win the war. So kind of going back to how public service is an unintentional journey. She was talking about how through her experience, there were some things that she really wanted to do, but then she chose public service instead. And now she doesn’t have a single regret. And I just thought that was so inspiring.

Alyssa Dinberg  23:33

I love that, that quote. 

Faiza Mawani  23:36

Me too.

Alyssa Dinberg  23:36

That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, I think about my own work as a public servant. And you really do have to pick your battles. I mean, you can’t, you’re not going to win every one, you’re not going to make all your residents happy all the time. And you have to keep that long game in mind. That’s awesome. I really liked that, quote. Marry, did you have a favorite guest speaker?

Mary Gilmore  23:58

I did. My favorite guest speaker that really kind of struck a match with me was representative Terri Sewell. So she’s awesome. I definitely looked into her platform and her campaign a bit more after class. And it’s just really nice knowing that we had someone in Congress who was fighting for us and fighting for stimulus checks when everything was going on. It was just really reassuring in such a time of uncertainty. But she had said one thing in response to one of my questions, which was along the lines of, you know, people will get educated and then they’ll leave their town for better things and just kind of leave it kind of where it was. And so, she had said, Bloom where you’re planted, and I thought that was just the most motivational little statement because she is this really educated woman from Selma, Alabama, and she chose to stay and represent them in Congress and fight for her constituents and That was just something that really resonated with me because I definitely see myself in Birmingham, Alabama for a really long time just because I don’t want to go somewhere else and work somewhere else and leave my city behind because I am a pretty long time resident of the Birmingham area. And my family’s been here for so long. So she definitely really motivated me to kind of fight for what I think is best for my community.

Alyssa Dinberg  25:31

That’s amazing. I went so I think I told you guys this in our first call. But I went to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa for undergrad and fell in love with Alabama. I’m from Georgia, but fell in love with Alabama and the people of Alabama and really spent the four years that I was an undergrad fighting for the good that’s happening there. I think a lot of times, Alabama is only talked in the national news about all the bad things that are happening there. And there’s just so many beautiful people and so many beautiful things happening there. And so when I graduated, it was really hard for me to decide whether I wanted to leave or stay and continue fighting for those people. But ultimately, I felt like I could do Alabama more service by leaving and fighting from afar versus fighting there. But so many of my friends went the opposite direction and stayed. So what you said definitely resonates with me because I had that same conversation internally for about two and a half years. 

Mary Gilmore  26:36

Right. And I just, I feel like Alabama has some of the most beautiful and wise people just because of where it resides in such a new south. I feel like being where we are, there are some really amazing people out here who have so much wisdom and I feel like Terri Sewell is one of those people. So it’s really nice, just knowing that behind closed doors, we at least have her fighting for, in my opinion, the best interests of Alabamians.

Alyssa Dinberg  27:03

Yes, I think she’s doing an amazing job. And she really represents her district very well, definitely. So I want to talk a little bit about Gov Love, and how Dr. Jones used it in your class. He he he talked through yesterday when we interviewed about how he used the episodes as teaching opportunities for you. And he said at the beginning of the class, he would assign specific episodes for you to listen to. And then you’d have different assignments related to those episodes. But by the end, you are allowed to choose your own episodes. So I’m just curious, which episodes stood out to you, if there’s any particular ones you wanted to talk about, and Faiza, we can start with you if you want?

Faiza Mawani  27:52

Sure. Um, so when we had that assignment to just choose one on our own, I told Dr. Jones that I’m not the biggest podcast fanatic. And so I wanted him to give me some suggestions based on what he had seen with my like mission and vision statement that we had previously submitted. So he told me to listen to podcast number 111, which is titled, there’s no perfect path to leadership. Um, so I know, it might sound like I’m advocating for this one thing that I’ve said at least five times already. But seriously, after hearing that podcast, it just reaffirmed that there really is no perfect path to leadership. And right, like, it’s just the guest speakers were telling me this podcast was telling me I just took it as a sign. And I really enjoyed it.

Alyssa Dinberg  28:45

That’s awesome. I, that is something that and I know I’ve already said this, but I just wish that higher education and even high school education that they they talked more about, because I think society really creates this image that you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do. And you’re supposed to follow that path and you’re supposed to get the job and you’re going to be happy in the job and you’re going to live happily ever after. And that’s just not reality. And so I’m really glad that that that’s stood out to you so early in your life, because it’s gonna serve you very well.

Faiza Mawani  29:20

I hope so.

Alyssa Dinberg  29:23

Kyle, what about you? What episodes did you, did you like the most or did they stand out for you?

Kyle Adams  29:31

Um, the episode that stood out the most for me was probably Episode 152 on the opioid epidemic. We were also watching a documentary called heroine and that was about a, a lady that had basically served as the chief of the fire department and a community that was dealing heavily with the opioid epidemic. So So listening to another episode on Gov Love about the opioid epidemic and how individuals in bureaucracy were handling it at the lower level and managing policies to make sure that they could really address this really large issue across the nation. You see it so often from a national perspective, that it’s an issue, but you never really get to see it from a local perspective, as each of these different departments and organizations are trying to make sure that they’re, they’re really helping people that are a part of their community and a lot of them, quite frankly, know, personally. So it becomes an even more important issue for them to make sure that they’re solving this so that people that are very close to them aren’t dying,

Alyssa Dinberg  30:47

Right. Yeah, it’s really true. I too love that episode. I’ve always been really fascinated, and maybe fascinated is not the right word. I don’t know what the right word is. But local response at a policy level to drug addiction and things like that has always been something that’s really caught my interest. And so I loved that episode. I haven’t watched that documentary. I’ll have to check it out. But I’m sure that I would love it. Mary, did you have a favorite episode?

Mary Gilmore  31:24

Okay, so just start out, I am a huge podcast person, I listen to them in the morning when I’m getting ready at night before I go to sleep. I just feel like it’s such a good way for me to catch up on news and just hear from people. So just throwing that out there. But when I was going to choose a podcast, I knew that I would probably like just about any of them. So I just kind of scrolled through them, because there’s so many, and I just picked one. So the one that I had landed on was 331, local politics with Emily Ferris and right off the bat, I found out that she was actually from Birmingham, Alabama, which was very surprising to me, because what are the odds out of 300 something podcasts that, the professor that they’re speaking with, is from Birmingham, Alabama. But anyway, so I feel like her story, like at least in her upbringing, was very similar to mine, because she was from a small suburb right outside of Birmingham. That was about 30 minutes outside of Birmingham. And, and she even compared that to, I believe she’s out of Texas when they were doing the podcast, but she was comparing Fort Worth and then Dallas in terms of their political culture, and how Fort Worth is more conservative and Dallas is more liberal. And she was talking about how that political culture really affected the type of legislation that was being passed there. And there’s only about a 30 minute difference. So that kind of stuck with me, because, you know, I’m not very far outside of Birmingham. And it’s just like, Birmingham has its own its own place within Alabama. And it’s mind blowing for me to go back home, especially over quarantine and just, you know, be around a completely different atmosphere. And I definitely resonated with this podcast. Because I feel like coming to Birmingham, outside of my small southern town, I was really able to gain a new perspective and learn just so much more than I was used to in my own hometown. So I really do recommend that podcast that one is a really good one. And it also talks a lot about local politics and different things like that, which is something super interesting. So yeah.

Alyssa Dinberg  33:44

Yeah, that was a really good episode. Emily Ferris is amazing, and I, I loved that episode, it was a really good one. And I’m going to make an offer to the three of you and any other students that are listening. And I did not run this by my other co hosts, but I think that they would be fine with it. If you guys are ever listening to an episode, and you’re super interested in what that person does, professionally, please let us know reach out to us. One of the things that Gov Love is, well not Gov Love, ELGL is amazing at is building those connections with our members and other local government enthusiasts or staff members across the country. And so please use Gov Love as a reference and as a resource to help engage with the profession. And also Yeah, I guess just engage with the profession and try to network and get to know people and learn more. So awesome. Yeah, feel free to let us know if there’s any way we can help. And that offer goes out to any other students that are listening. I want that I want Gov Love to be a resource for people.

Faiza Mawani  34:53

That’s amazing, thank you. 

Alyssa Dinberg  34:53

All right. Yeah, no problem. So I understand that you Put together a public service portfolio where you outlined a personal public service vision and mission. I’m curious what that vision and mission for each of you looked like. And if there were any Gov Love podcasts to help you craft a vision and mission, or maybe will help you achieve that mission. Let’s start with Kyle.

Kyle Adams  35:23

So, my for my for my vision and mission, one of the biggest things that I was speaking about was really addressing the specific issue of the disadvantages of education and economic status in lower income communities. So I came from Montgomery, and I went to a public school that was predominantly black. And then I also participated in these government programs that were predominantly white. And one of the biggest things that I was trying to do while I was in those government programs was was try to spread the program into more communities that weren’t typically apt to learn about government, or democracy, and things like that. And one of the biggest things that I got in that learning environment through volunteering and doing this program was that there are so many students that just do not get the an equal level of education, I had the chance to go to a magnet school. And students that were in our traditional schools were more likely to be in a failing school than our magnet programs or private schools. Nonetheless, I decided to write my vision as a vision of educational equality and then economic equality. And then one of the biggest things about it was trying to figure out how we would get that vision and mission satisfied. And I think the biggest thing that I learned from a Gov Love podcast that helped me try to learn more from my, my vision and mission was from the same podcast that I just mentioned, 152, when Ian Burrell was on, and one of the things that I remember him quoting was, um, if you ever want to learn anything that’s wrong inside of a system of government, then you should go to the lowest levels of government don’t go to the highest levels, don’t go to the elected officials, things like that, go to the individuals that are working. And were what we called street level bureaucrats inside of the class. I think, making sure that you go and speak to individuals that are working directly with whatever it may be students or working in the economical, like divisions of government, I think doing that is going to teach you so much about what’s wrong, and how you can satisfy those issues and create a solution to those issues. 

Alyssa Dinberg  37:50

Yeah, it’s a really good point. in one of the previous cities that I worked for, I spent a good bit of time with our public works department. And just talking to the guys that are replacing the light bulbs in the street poles and filling potholes and snowing or snowing, plowing snow. It’s amazing what you learn about your community from those people that are boots on the ground, actually doing work to physically improve the community. So I love that that was great. Faiza, did you have anything that you wanted to add to this about your your public service vision and mission?

Faiza Mawani  38:29

Yeah, sure. So I think I mentioned this a little earlier. But immigration is just something that’s kind of near and dear to me, simply because my parents were immigrants, for the sole purpose that my sisters and I get the best education possible. And so originally fairing from Pakistan, where girls education wasn’t prioritized, my parents wanted to come to America, so their children could have an education. And now immigration has become such a taboo, and it’s become a political issue, where, but when I think about it, I think that essentially we all are immigrants, America wasn’t something that was just established, right, it was discovered. And so I feel like people now that aren’t able to legally attain a status in America are prevented from the same opportunities that luckily my sisters and I and others have been able to receive. So that’s kind of what I laid as a foundation for my portfolio. So I hope that maybe through immigration law, or even simply becoming an educator about this topic, I hope to be able to reach the marginalized communities. And like I referenced, Episode 111, how there’s no really perfect path to leadership. We sometimes think leadership is innate. It’s either you’re born a leader or You eventually become one. But I feel like everyone has the potential to be a leader. And so for that reason, I truly believe that by reaching out to these marginalized communities, I hope that those kids maybe grow up to become policymakers, and they’re able to do something for their own community and a way to give back. So I was just really inspired by hearing that podcast itself.

Alyssa Dinberg  40:27

That’s amazing. I think the thing that I love about what both of you have said is that you’re using your life experiences to guide your vision and your mission. And I think that’s beautiful. And it’s going to serve you very well long term. Because you’re going to stay true to who you are, and in what you want. So props to both of you, Mary, how about you? What What did you outline in your personal public service, vision and mission?

Mary Gilmore  40:55

So in my portfolio, it was basically addressing the health disparities faced by a lot of the communities and neighborhood residents in urban cities. And I feel like initially, a lot of people tend to place the blame on these issues on federal government, and you know, our presidents and our policymakers in Washington, DC. But as I progress through this class, I really realized the true weight and power within local government. And actually one of the podcasts that I have listened to Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was talking to someone I believe, who was out of Des Moines, Iowa. And she was actually talking about her kind of progress getting into local government and city planning. And I was really listening to her story, I was like, wow, I could really see myself doing something in city planning with the local government. So I feel like a lot of people really realize how big of a problem these health disparities are in our urban cities. And, you know, there’s just a lot of investment going on, at least here in Birmingham downtown, but not really right outside of downtown in the neighborhoods. And so they’re kind of just falling through the hole, basically. And I feel like our local government has the power to address these disparities and actually make a difference in these people’s lives. So I’m really excited for my generation to kind of get in there and make a difference, because one thing I will say is that I do think Gen Z is impatient, and they don’t like waiting. So I’m excited on that since to see what will get done. And I do think it’ll be pretty tremendous.

Alyssa Dinberg  42:59

It’s, in listening to you talk, it is interesting. It’s an interesting time to be a public health student. So I’ve just, this is kind of unrelated to your class. But I’m curious how the current pandemic has shaped your goals as a public health student, working towards working in a community as a public servant. 

Mary Gilmore  43:22

Right. If I’m being completely honest, I do feel like with everything going on in 2020, with the pandemic, and like the racial justice movements that are going on, I do feel like in a way, the veil has been dropped on a lot of these disparities that were already existing. Now, they’ve just been exacerbated. And we’ve seen with the pandemic, people that were already struggling to pay rent, you know, the majority of Americans do live paycheck to paycheck. So whenever everything went on pause, a lot of people were really, really struggling. And I feel like, for lack of a better word, this whole situation is really in a way radicalized me for the need for action. And it’s really made me tune into local politics, and national politics really just kind of pay attention to what is going on. Because I am very, very, very impatient when it comes to, you know, getting need out to people who are struggling, and something that I know that once our generation is in office, I do think that the time is now for some real progress to be made. Not to discount everything that’s been going on in the past, but we do need some radical change, I believe.

Alyssa Dinberg  44:44

Yeah, I totally agree. I am technically an employee of the public health department and just to hear how our department and our organization has had to rapidly shift because of the pandemic is Extremely eye opening, we only had one nurse. And I believe that we’ve hired 13 people since COVID started, which is crazy. I mean, for a really small department to hire 13 people that’s pretty dramatic. And it just shows how underfunded the department was to begin with, like, we should have been able to handle something like this without hiring 13 people.

Mary Gilmore  45:28

And I feel like public health departments and different agencies like that have really kind of been brought into the spotlight and well deserved at that, because their impact is tremendous. And a lot of them do go underfunded. So hopefully, this is a wake up call for everyone.

Alyssa Dinberg  45:46

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you segued into my next question perfectly. I couldn’t do this episode without asking some of your thoughts and opinions on what you’re looking for, as in a job. So in that, I mean, like, what kind of benefits are you looking for? Work from home, culture, what’s what’s really important to you, as you start looking for jobs, and Faiza, let’s start with you.

Faiza Mawani  46:14

So, when looking at jobs, I consider the obvious benefits, like health care and all that stuff. And like safety. But I also have recently taken a more knowledge based approach to jobs. Whether or not I’m learning something or sharing knowledge, I think in today’s society, in today’s world, there’s so much knowledge out there. And it obviously comes down to your perception. But I feel like the more I learn, the more my perspective widens, and broadens. And I think that’s just something that we need. Being judgmental, and narrow minded will not get us anywhere in our society. And so currently, I’m an intern, sorry, let me say it again. Currently, I’m an intern for UAB’s Institute of human rights, where we blog about human rights issues that the news cycle doesn’t often cover, or that are often neglected. And through that, I’ve just learned so much about the world itself. And I think that if a job does not teach me something, or I’m not sharing my knowledge, I don’t know why I’m a part of that job. The wage, sure it matters. But ultimately, I think it comes down to the cycle of knowledge and spreading as much information as possible. The second thing I consider most important is diversity, be it of ideas or cultural backgrounds, simply because I feel like a workspace that has an influx of diversity is one of is one that’s bound to produce knowledge.

Alyssa Dinberg  47:54

Yeah, that’s super important to me as well. Um, Kyle, what about you? What are you looking for when you start applying for jobs? What’s really important for you?

Kyle Adams  48:05

That’s a that’s really interesting question. For me, I think I’m still a little too young, personally, and not mature yet to be looking for like jobs with security and benefits and things like that. I think right now, one of the biggest things that I’m looking for in a job is really pushing radical change. I think that’s a big thing for a lot of Gen Zers right now, just like seeing change happen consistently. And I think the culture that I want in any job that I’m getting, within the next couple of years to really be people that are willing to go above and beyond to really just pressure change to happen in their communities. So So lately, what I’ve been doing is jumping on to basically any campaign that I possibly can, that I agree with their, their, what they’re trying to do in their communities. And that’s been a really awesome opportunity to really have a lack of a job title. And really focus on just getting things done. So right now, before, you know, I have to get off my parents support. That’s the job that I’m looking for right now.

Alyssa Dinberg  49:19

That’s amazing, though. No, I think that’s a perfect answer. And I think that’s a really common thing for people to say, I mean, when you’re applying for a job, like most are gonna apply, most are gonna have benefits, most are going to have time off. And those some of those things are fairly negotiable. But you can’t, you can’t ask for a specific culture in an organization when you’re applying for a job, you know. So it’s important to know that going into it, what’s important for you.

Mary Gilmore  49:48

When I think about my ideal job, and when how I’ll feel the most fulfilled in life. I really think it just boils down to if I’m passionate about the work I’m doing and I truly believe it’s impacting those positively around me. And I think the way I’ll feel as the as though it impacts those around me is if I’m working with people who have a similar value set to me. And it’s interesting too, because I had a professor one time, it was the first week of the semester, and he had us go around the room and share what we wanted to do and what our dream job was. And when he had gotten to me at the time, I was like, I would love to work at a nonprofit in Birmingham. And he was like, well, Mary, there’s not a lot of money in nonprofits. And I was like, well, money does not buy you happiness. And it was, I don’t know, I feel like it was the beginning of a realization for me that I just want to be where I feel like I’m making a difference. And it’s not about the money. For me, it’s really just about improving people’s health and well being. And so when I think about my dream job, I’d like to think it would be in policy somewhere, maybe with a department of health or with the CDC. But then once I’m older, I definitely want to come back and teach, whether that be at a high school or even a university, I would love to be a professor, because I feel like some of my professors here and the two years that have been here have really impacted me. So I would love to be able to do that. And actually one of my favorite books, Tuesdays with Maurey by Mitch Albom, awesome book, I definitely recommend reading it if you are a college student or a college grad. But that book really impacted me just it really made me want to build a relationship with my professors. So that’s basically how I’m feeling.

Alyssa Dinberg  51:50

Yeah, well, thank you for those those inputs, I really appreciate it. I think the more hiring managers can understand what undergrads are looking for, the better we can shape our organizations to attract and retain young talent like you. I personally would love to hire all three of you, once you’re ready to graduate, I think all three of you are going to be incredible assets to whatever you do. You clearly are passionate, and you clearly are extremely motivated and talented. And so I wish all three of you nothing but the best. I have one last question for you. And that would be based on the class that you took and the experiences that you’ve had so far. How has your perception of public service changed? And I’ll start with you, Kyle.

Kyle Adams  52:49

Yeah, I think the class has really allowed me to think of public service as a much more top down system, not just the elected officials, as I said, I had originally gone into public like this class thinking about, but every single level has a very important job. And when you go into public service, it’s really important to grasp and have an understanding of where each of those levels plays a role in serving their communities that they’re working in. So I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned about public service. And the biggest thing that’s changed for me, in my knowledge of public service over being in this class,

Alyssa Dinberg  53:31

That’s awesome. Faiza, what about you?

Faiza Mawani  53:34

So I think that me taking this class last semester, was really a blessing. Considering I’m a political science major, there was nothing, there was no class that I rather would have taken, simply because this laid the perfect foundation for me for public service and understanding what it took to become a bureaucrat, and the path or the multiple paths, I should say, you could take. This semester, I’m taking this class called urban politics, and it analyzes residential segregation, specifically in the Birmingham area. And that okay, and it speaks to specifically about de jure segregation, which is segregation based on laws. And I think that in combining last semester, and this semester, I think I’ve really gotten a very unique perspective on public service, and policymaking specifically, and how much of an impact it has on every single resident of the United States, not just people that we consider citizens, literally every single person. And so I really am grateful for that widen perspective.

Alyssa Dinberg  54:52

That’s amazing. Mary, what about you?

Mary Gilmore  54:57

I think my single biggest takeaway from this class, when looking at our local government officials, and also President Biden and Vice President Harris is they’re really not that different from you or I. And I think we like to put our government officials up on a pedestal, and they almost seem like movie characters, but in reality, they are humans too. And I feel like this class has really helped me realize that, you know, these positions, even the highest office in the United States, like, they are totally attainable. And it’s possible for people like us, like normal people, to aspire to be something like that. And I remember sitting through inauguration and watching Kamala get inaugurated and I was like, wow, like, we have a female vice president. And I just remember having chills. And that just further cemented what I learned in this class that, you know, they’re not that different from us. And that’s a good thing, because we have the ability to run for an office like that, and do well and fight for what we believe in.

Alyssa Dinberg  56:11

Yeah, it’s so true. And I think that actually leads me to one last question, and it’s kind of a joke question, but I just wanted to ask it anyway. Um, in my episode with Dr. Jones, he talked about how you guys learned about coroners and how their elected officials and so I was just wondering, are any of you guys planning on running for coroner for your county?

Mary Gilmore  56:34

That was the most unbelievable fact of the entire semester.

Faiza Mawani  56:40

It really was. I’m really like, surprised you said it because I was literally like, as Mary was speaking, I was literally thinking about it. I was like, wow, this goes back to the coroner story. Like I could really do a coroner. I don’t need a medical license. That’s hilarious. Yeah, yeah, I’m totally gonna try to be coroner. 

Alyssa Dinberg  56:56

Please do. I don’t, I wouldn’t be able to vote for you. But I’ll support your campaign

Faiza Mawani  57:05

Perfect, great, three votes right there. 

Alyssa Dinberg  57:09

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. This was amazing. I love any opportunity I can to talk to students about public service because I’m clearly very passionate about it. So I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to talk with me. 

Faiza Mawani  57:27

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I had a great time.

Alyssa Dinberg  57:30

Thank you and feel free to to reach out if you need anything ever we are here to support you.

Mary Gilmore  57:38

Definitely. Thank you so much. 

Kyle Adams  57:40

Thank you.

Alyssa Dinberg  57:41

Well, that ends our episode today. Again thanks for talking with me. Gov Love is produced by rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. you can reach us at ELGL.org/GovLove or on Twitter at @GovLovePodcast. Thanks for listening. This has been Gov Love, a podcast about local government.


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