I enrolled at The Bush School of Government and Public Service to pursue my academic interests in non-profit management and public administration. While the program curriculum included required courses related to public policy, I was interested in the courses that focused on organizational behaviour and diversity in the non-profit sector. I steered away from political issues and focused on the services provided to particular groups. For example, I researched the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum and women who were professionally mistreated based on their gender.
But earlier this year, I was accepted into an exchange program developed by Texas A&M and Swansea University that provided the opportunity to study abroad and complete a professional internship in Wales. The coursework was classified as International Relations and involved a heavy focus on international policy and governance.
That didn’t sound like me at all. I always envisioned myself running a local non-profit organization in a small community. This study abroad opportunity didn’t have anything to do with that. I was conflicted at first. Should I stay in the United States and complete an internship in community development or should I spend a summer abroad learning about unfamiliar governments and public policy?
After praying about it and discussing the opportunity with my family and friends, I decided to say ‘yes’ to a summer of unfamiliarity.
I packed my bags, emptied my savings account and bought a ticket to the United Kingdom. I moved into a flat with seven undergraduate students. I began attending classes to learn about European Governance and the devolution of the United Kingdom. I began working at the National Assembly for Wales, completing research on renewable energy and air pollution.
I did all of this for one significant reason. I did all of this to fulfil my enrolment at The Bush School. I did all of this to LEARN.
While studying topics that were nonconforming for a public management degree, I have developed a better understanding of my place as a public servant. I have witnessed the challenges of the policy making process. I have conversed with representatives who are struggling to find the best way to meet the needs of their constituents. I have learned how environmental policy can be related to organizing non-profit events or gathering local support can be utilized in non-profit marketing. I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine because I said ‘yes’ to a new opportunity, an unfamiliar place and unusual research topics.
When God opens a door (even one that might be of a different color or new design), follow Him.
Even if that means following Him across the world to study hydrogen vehicles or air pollution when you are completely clueless about these topics.
Even if that means challenging yourself mentally to understand new material and new ideas.
Even if that means gaining an experience that seems completely unrelated to the professional career you desire.
SAY ‘YES’ AND FOLLOW HIM.
Georgia "Gandy" Osburn
Georgia is a second-year student at the Bush School of Government and Public Service