Student Profile: Peter Kramer, MPA '19

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March 1, 2018

Peter Kramer, MPA ‘19, is currently interning with the Holy Redeemer Health System and is a recipient of a guaranteed admissions partnership scholarship by virtue of his time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a full-time, lay Catholic volunteer organization. In this interview, Peter discusses his time before Fels, his ongoing educational experience, and his hopes for the future.

 

What professional/academic work were you engaged in before you came to Fels?

 

Before I came to Fels, I was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps--the largest lay Catholic, full-time volunteer program in the world--and worked at a nonprofit (Friends of the Poor) in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I helped to provide anti-poverty and social services. Prior to that, I worked for a nonprofit that was devoted to creating peace through cross-cultural communication. One of my projects there involved helping to run a youth hostel in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Before that, I attended school at the City University of New York (Queens College).

 

What made you want to participate in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and how was that experience?

 

At first, the JVC was recommended to me by my uncle, who is Jesuit educated and who knew a lot about the organization. After college, I knew that I wanted to go back to school to earn a graduate degree, but I realized that I wanted to first get some more on-the-ground experience doing service and seeing what people living in poverty really go through. The information that my uncle gave me about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps made me realize that joining it would be a great opportunity to gain this on-the-ground experience. Honestly, I think it was the best thing that I’ve ever done--I learned a ton about myself, about important poverty-related issues, and the whole experience really renewed my passion for service.

 

Why did you decide to pursue an MPA at Fels?

 

Largely, my experience at Friends of the Poor in Scranton actually ended up leading me in the direction of pursuing an MPA. At the nonprofit, we did a lot of really great work regarding immediate crisis intervention--helping people, showing them love, and things like that. However, while we did a lot of good work, we had no real way of knowing what our greater impact was, and no real way to step back and look at how well we were doing as an organization. More specifically, we had no capabilities regarding things like self-evaluation and data analysis. So, when I realized that I wanted to get better at those kinds of things in order to be able to help organizations like Friends of the Poor, obtaining an MPA at Fels seemed like exactly the way for me to learn about and develop these kinds of skills.

 

What is your favorite aspect of the Fels experience?

 

Everything about Fels has been really great so far. In terms of the classes, the things we are learning seem very practical (I really enjoy our policy-making class with Dr. Meredith), and I definitely feel like I am learning exactly what I came here to learn. However, I think that my absolute favorite part of the entire Fels experience has been getting to know everyone in the cohort. It is a great group, and the small, intimate size of my class is definitely one of the best things about Fels when compared to other, similar schools. I also currently have an internship with Holy Redeemer Health Services (helping them to develop a strategic plan to address food insecurity through their food pantries) that I was able to secure through the Fels Lab, so I would say that the school’s network and emphasis on professional and career development are really great, as well.

 

As of now, do you know what you might want to do after Fels?

 

Well, to some extent, that is something that I am still figuring out. Sometimes, I think that I would really like to work at a nonprofit, perhaps doing things similar to what I did at Friends to the Poor, such as developing and providing social services to those in need. However, I’ve been thinking more recently about getting to know more about the world of consulting. This is primarily because I really love the idea of being able to help nonprofits improve themselves and I feel that, in work like nonprofit consulting, I would be able to help a wider range of organizations than I would by just working at one place.

Penn LPS

The lifelong learning division of Penn Arts & Sciences

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu

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