School of Public Administration Celebrates Graduates

May 16, 2023

UNM’s School of Public Administration is thrilled to announce its latest class of public servants.

On Friday, May 12, 15 students graduated with a Master of Public Administration (MPA), and 10 graduated with a Master of Health Administration (MHA.) Each celebrated this special day with their family, friends, fellow students and faculty. 

SPA Graduates

The ceremony marked the end of SPA’s Public Service Recognition Week. That began with the induction of this year’s members to Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society for public administration. 

SPA Director of Operations & Advisement Gene Henley says SPA was especially thrilled to welcome UNM President Garnet Stokes and convocation keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján.

“Sen. Luján shared his thoughts about the value of public service,” Henley said. “The education gained at the School of Public Administration is needed to produce the next generation of well trained and prepared administrators and leaders that New Mexico needs to grow and thrive in the coming years.”

Luján is a son of public servants. His father Ben Luján, served as New Mexico Speaker of the House and his mother served in the local school system for decades. It was from an early age that he knew he wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps, eventually becoming a U.S. Representative for New Mexico. 

Sen. Luján delivers keynote speech

“Public service is helping someone with a problem or working to improve their livelihoods. You may not always get a ‘thank you’, your name may not be in the Sunday paper, but rest assured you are making a difference,” Luján said. “Here in New Mexico, the need could not be greater for folks with your expertise and experience. It is my sincere hope that you will stay here and continue to learn from our people, the incredible talent and diversity of our communities and put your skills to use where they are needed most.” 

Sen. Luján, who survived a stroke last year, stressed the need for professionals in all fields, particularly those that serve rural New Mexico. He passed a resolution to make May Stroke Awareness Month and now wants everyone to make mental health important in their lives and those in their community. 

“Having survived a stroke, I’ve had to prioritize mental health in a way I’d never had,” he said. “Learning that it's okay to not be okay, taking the time to rest and be in the moment- not letting the little things bother you.”   

Senator Luján asked the graduates to go out and engage the world and share the “New Mexico Spirit” with pride and purpose. That’s something these public servants intend to do.

Learn about the up and coming public servants from SPA right now at the UNM School of Public Administration.

Credit: UNM Newsroom