Christina Rueck is a fresh face in California politics. The following piece provides insight into the life of a young student pursuing a career in government.

As I conclude my first year in the MPA program at USC with a 3.8 GPA, I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come academically.  I never imagined the possibilities that were accessible to me and in retrospect, I feel slightly undeserving of them.

As an undergraduate student at CSU, Sacramento I struggled to figure out a career path.  This inner turmoil was reflected in my grades and was very clear to all of my professors.  I rarely went to class and squeaked by the first couple years of college with a ‘C’ average. 

I soon lost more and more interest and the major I chose did not interest me at all.  Before I knew it, the Dean of my college sent me a letter to inform me that I was on academic probation.  It was my junior year of college and I was days away from being kicked out. 

This was my wake-up call. 

Did I even want to be in college? 

The answer was a firm yes.  I wanted to get a degree and I would no longer settle for sufficient. I managed to convince a handful of my professors to give me a second chance and finished out my last year and a half double majoring and on the Dean’s List. 

As I crossed the podium to receive my degree, I thought it was the highlight of my academic career.

It was not.

I began to work for the Board of Equalization as a legislative analyst to one of the board members.  I absolutely loved it!  I never imagined I could love going to work, I had a new job every three months when I was in college.  I don’t have ADD, but I get distracted very easily. 

Government policy fascinates me and is always challenging.  However, I knew I needed to continue my study of policy and administration if I were going to be able to do the I could.  I researched school after school, not wanting to settle for sufficient or easily accessible. 

I knew I could excel at a top school and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than the best.  
I noticed that USC’s School of Policy, Planning, and Developments MPA program was ranked 7th in the nation.  I knew I belonged there.  I applied to many other programs but my heart was set on USC.  So much so that I figured there was no way I would get in.

I met with Virginia Kaser, and she set my heart at ease.  I left that meeting with a sense of hope that I could get in to this amazing school and I could afford it.  I got a couple rejection letters and a few acceptance, but I was not going to make a decision until I found out if I got into the school of my dreams.

I will never forget the day I got the gigantic packet from USC.  

Mostly I remember the acceptance letter.  I had done it.  I had surpassed everyone’s expectations of me.  In high school, I had the same grades as my first couple years at CSUS.  I know none of my old teachers would expect me to be attending this school and to be in this program.

It was awesome and scary at the same time.  I knew this program was ranked nationally for a reason.  It will be challenging emotionally, mentally, and physically.  Working full time and getting my masters full time was not going to be easy.  But I was up for the challenge and as I conclude my first year I am proud of my success thus far. 

One of the best things I’ve gained as an MPA student at USC is a family.  I have never met such an amazing group of people and I am honored to study with them.  I look forward to broadening my network of USC family members and I look forward to expanding upon my knowledge of public administration and management.

Every class I take helps me to my job better. 

This in itself is priceless.  I hope to gain enough knowledge of racing law and policy to soon begin lobbying in this industry.  I now work for the California Department of Food and Agriculture as their legislative analyst for the Division of Fairs and Expositions.  

One goal I have for my MPA is to assist local animal shelters in surviving this economic downtown.  I currently volunteer for the Sacramento SPCA and in the future I hope that I can assist them and other animal welfare nonprofits function, raise money, gain volunteers, establish solids administrative strategies, and thrive.

To reach Christina, email the editor at Click here to visit PublicCEO’s Professional Education page.