SIUE alumna lands dream job with Give Us Wings

SIUE alumna Danielle May graduated in December with a Master of Public Administration, secured a job on another continent and couldn’t be happier about the work she is doing.

SIUE alumna Danielle May

May recently became the Africa Program Director for Give Us Wings, a program that works to “eradicate poverty through education, healthcare and clean water initiatives” on the grassroots level, according to May. She oversees projects and programs in East Africa, specifically Kenya and Uganda, which May said she could not have done without her Master of Public Administration (MPA).

One of the most valuable pieces of advice May received while in the MPA program was that “as a public administrator you are working for the public.”

“You are working for the common good. There are certain values that you need to keep in mind at all times like equity and transparency and accountability, etcetera,” May said. “And all those things, those types of values that were pounded into my head day in and day out… especially working with the communities here in Africa, it’s really important to lead with those values…”

May said Give Us Wings works in a “very bottom-up approach to development work.” The company relies on community groups to lead development work, which May said is important to her.

One reason May pursued a graduate degree was because she said she wanted “a more administrative, upper-level management position.”

May has performed field work in the past both as a community organizer in Chicago and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. But she said she was lacking administrative experience, such as financial management, budgeting, best practices for supervision and data analysis.

Though it was great to land a job right out of college, May said she had been “actively applying” for jobs for more than one year.

“[It has] also been very nerve wracking during this time being in school,” May said. “It was an intense few months not knowing, but it was great. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Public administration professor Taylor Morris, who has known May for two years, said he thinks working with Give Us Wings is a wonderful opportunity for May.

“I think she has the knowledge skills and abilities and the personality to work there,” Morris said. “I think she will probably be really good for their program because she brings a very, very balanced approach to whatever she does. Not only in terms of intellect, but also understanding the needs of people in a particular area.”

Public administration professor Nancy Huyck, who has known May for about one year, said May brought a lot of her “international experiences” into class projects and applications of coursework. Huyck said the position with Give Us Wings USA is a “perfect fit” for May.

“I think that the knowledge she’s gained from our MPA program has prepared her for this,” Huyck said. “…[It’s a] real match between the material she’s learned in our department and applying it in a professional setting and I’m just really, really happy for her.”

Huyck said May picked a “great program” to prepare her for the job.

“It seems like it really worked out for her and her credentials prove that not just around here, but internationally, she can get a job with her SIU education, which really stands out for our university as well,” Huyck said.

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