Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Jonathan Macomber '18

Hometown: Westerly, Rhode Island

Concentration:  MPA - Health Care Policy focus

Tell us about your personal and professional experience prior to beginning the MPA program.  What fields were you in, and why did they lead you to an MPA?

I was a medic in the Army from 2010 to 2014, stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana; Afghanistan, and West Point, NY. I then attended Rhode Island College (RIC) from 2014 to this past June. As a medic in the Army, a paramedic is a good example of a civilian proxy. My service, particularly my deployment, was a very rewarding experience.

Coming from a middle class upbringing, going to Brown is a big deal for myself and my family; I know I would never have gotten from there to here if it weren't for the military and the VA’s education benefits. How I grew in the military, the people I met, the intensity of the experiences, the sheer amount of work I was doing and the immense responsibility I was wielding all made me who I am. I owe so much to my military experience, the Army’s institutions, and all of the VA’s support; all of which have led me to Brown.

It was the end of year one at RIC and I'm doing well as a nursing major but in the long run, I knew I was going to eventually pivot towards a health policy or hospital administration role. If I were to stick with nursing I knew I would get burned out, so I had the foresight to pursue a different route.

What do you hope to do with a masters in public administration?

The MPA program prepares you with a Swiss army knife type of degree. For me, this means I am being prepared to work in a variety of settings — working in hospital administration, healthcare policy, state government, local government, or with health centered non-profits. The Department of Veterans Affairs is also a viable avenue; Brown's MPA program could prepare me for a VA hospital administration fellowship, which would be a dream scenario. I know the MPA program will leave me well equipped when I graduate, no matter which avenue I choose.

 -Interview by Amalia Perez '18