A Public Servant With a Desire to Contribute to Excellent Education for All – by Peter Wright


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I am a person of action. Tolerating the status quo frustrates me, which
is one of the reasons I love to lead and am drawn to a career in public
service. Public servants are at their best when their ambition to
serve is fueled by dreams of a better world. The tomorrow I think about
is one where all schools are excellent.

I had the opportunity to make excellent education a reality for some
elementary school students during the two years I spent as a Teach For
America corps member in rural North Carolina. In my classroom the
day-to-day problems of my students – hunger, homelessness, and abuse –
were left at the door.

I did not join Teach For America to begin a career in teaching, but to
make the lives of the children I was teaching better while gaining an
inside perspective on how to fix our broken education system. I am now
seeking the graduate education and skills that will make me better able
to serve in elected office and share in the leadership of a university.
I wish to team-up with other education advocates to make excellent
education more accessible to all.

I enjoy life’s unpredictability. I discovered through a research
project I conducted as an undergraduate, which focused on the values and
ideals that motivate candidates for public office, that most elected
officials have great intentions to serve the constituents they
represent. However, the best qualified or those who are best able to
represent the needs of citizens do not always win elections. I found
the most successful public servants to be those who turn set-backs into
positive opportunities.

As an Executive Fellow in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Office of
Homeland Security I was delighted to work every day with well-tested
veterans of public service. Having been helicoptered by the Capital
Fellowship to senior levels of State government I learned from people
who share my zeal for good government.

Part of my work in the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security included
staffing a national-level committee through the Office of the Director
of National Intelligence to establish information-sharing standards
through all levels of government, coordinating an international
cooperative exchange with Ukraine, and serving as a section lead on the
Office’s federal grant application, which supports California’s first
responders. With each project I grew more confidant in my decision to
make public service a career.

My work in the Governor’s Office also confirmed for me that in order to
reach my next level of effectiveness I need to continue my academic
education. I desire the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to
effectively evaluate and implement policy choices that shape our
country. I believe that having attained a Masters in Public
Administration at the University of Southern California and now pursuing
a doctorate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara will
bring me a step closer to my ultimate goal: working in the public sector
to make excellent education possible for all children in America.

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