After earning her BS in chemistry from George Mason University in 2019, Meron Aboye had a plan to attend pharmacy school. She has always followed a checklist. Go to college. Check. Take the right classes. Check. Get your bachelor’s degree. Check. Apply to pharmacy school. Check. But as she began receiving acceptances from several schools, she started to panic.
“I had a lot of reservations that this career wasn’t really for me,” she said. “I had never had those feelings before.”
So, even though she admits to being nervous, Aboye completely altered her plans.
“I decided to scrap that idea and find something I really wanted to pursue,” she said.
In a sharp pivot, she enrolled in the Master’s in Public Administration program in Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government, where she was initially intrigued by the nonprofit management concentration.
“Nonprofits have had a lot of impact on my life and I’ve always wanted to do nonprofit work,” she said. (She was part of Mason’s Early Identification Program, which provides access to educational resources for middle and high school students who will be the first in their families to attend college.)
Once she learned that an MPA could lead to other career avenues beyond nonprofits, including working in local or federal government, Aboye felt excited by the possibilities.
“With undergrad I had a list of everything I wanted to do and that kind of cornered me in one area,” she said. “That’s why I decided to go with the MPA. If I wanted to concentrate on nonprofits I could, but I could still be open to what else is out there for me.”
Aboye experienced a new-found motivation in her coursework.
“When you’re studying something you are passionate about, it’s not about the grades anymore, it’s about what you’re actually learning,” she said. “It felt fulfilling that the work I was going to do was going to be impactful.”
Aboye credits her professors with providing support and counsel whenever she needed it.
“They were always very accessible,” she said. “I always felt like I had that community.”
Katrin Anacker, a professor in the Schar School, taught Aboye in her Policy and Program Evaluation course. She says it was a privilege to have Aboye in class.
“She is a critical, respectful thinker who broadens analyses and enriches discussions,” Anacker said. “Her excellent questions demonstrated that she had thought about the materials ahead of class. The entire class benefited from her contributions.”
Now that she has graduated—again—Aboye will begin a two-year fellowship with the Loudon County Department of Finance and Budget, where she will provide data analysis support.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “I have so much to learn. It will be a great opportunity for me to grow and develop, not just in my career but as a person.”
No matter where her career takes her, Aboye has learned that being openminded has its advantages.
“After switching from chemistry to where I am now and seeing how good that change can be, I’m not afraid of changing direction anymore,” she said.