University Director of Service - Learning, Uconn's Office of Public Engagement
Julia Yakovich is a 2008 graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Master of Public Administration program. She currently works for UConn’s Office of Public Engagement. Julia is fortunate to work for UConn doing something she gets excited about every day. She is in charge of a curriculum based program at UConn that integrates a variety of service-types of projects into classes. It is known as Service Learning.
The Office of Public Engagement’s mission is to assist in the development of engaged citizens through coordination, advocacy and capacity building for engagement activities. Civic engagement, service learning, engaged scholarship, university assisted community schools, strategic partnerships, and communities as partners and collaborators are examples of programs and activities offered by the OPE. The work of the office is through and with others across all disciplines and all campuses. Public Engagement provides resources for faculty, professional staff and students to integrate engaged scholarship into their academic, research and service programs, and maximize the University’s impact on the communities with whom it engages by facilitating interdisciplinary connections and forming long-term community partnerships.
Julia’s job is different every day. She has the opportunity to work with energetic and innovative faculty at the university who choose to focus their students’ learning goals and objectives alongside a community partners goals and objectives. With the pedagogy of service learning opportunities to teach and learn are virtually endless. She loves that this pedagogy is living and breathing and is always moving. It is the pedagogy by which societal challenges can be solved. There is no better way for students to be woven into the fabric of our state, to care more about our resources, or lack thereof, to identify solutions to challenges.
Her influence in joining the program began when she was at the tail end of her AmeriCorps service year through the University of Kentucky. An older colleague and mentor suggested that she should look into an MPA. Julia researched UConn for a number of reasons and started taking classes when she moved back home to Hartford. She took non-matriculated classes while working several part time jobs until she could find something more permanent. Julia found a full time positon with a local non-profit and determined quickly, that if she wanted to influence change at a higher level a MPA was necessary. Julia’s MPA provides her the tools and resources to look at challenges with a sophisticated eye and to make decisions with confidence. Her advice to current MPA students is to “get involved. It doesn’t matter how; just put your best foot forward, get out there, and get involved. Make connections, meet people, and ask for projects. If you have extra time, you’re not doing enough.”