Master of Public Administration

MPA Student Demographics

Students Participate From All Walks of Life

The MPA program has students from many parts of Washington state, other states and foreign countries. They bring a wide range of educational, work, and personal experiences. We believe that drawing from many perspectives and a multiplicity of ideas enhances learning, encourages learning across differences, and exposes students and faculty to a breadth of perspectives as they consider critical issues facing the public and nonprofit sectors and tribal governments. Special emphasis will be placed on the contributions made by men and women of different cultures, races and communities to organizations in the public sector. Student Profiles

Our Students Bring Different Skills and Perspectives

The educational backgrounds and employment histories of our students are diverse. Students returning to school after several years in the workforce comprise a significant proportion of each class, but others come to the program directly after completing an undergraduate degree. Their average age is 35, but they range from their early twenties to into their sixties. About half enroll full-time in the MPA program. Most work at least part-time in addition to their studies, and many work full-time. Their career interests include education, health, human resources, information technology, law enforcement, management, social services, transportation and tribal governance.

The Tribal Governance Concentration is not exclusive to Native and Indigenous persons.  A uniquely Native focus on indigenous and Tribal issues as well as a curriculum designed by Native persons to help leaders emerge and work in Tribal Administration is a cornerstone.

Student Profiles

rodney profile

Rodney Gervais- expected 2014 MPA graduate, Tribal Chair Member

Rodney has worked for the Blackfeet tribe for 27 years and has served as a Tribal Chair person. He has received two A.A. degrees from Blackfeet community college, one in human services and general studies. Rodney got his bachelor degree from the University of Montana, in political science and a minor in native studies and is currently attending the MPA Tribal Governance Concentration at Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, where he will graduate in 2014.

nikki profile

Nikki Felker- expected 2014 MPA graduate- Non-profit work

I chose the Evergreen program while working abroad after reviewing many different programs. I loved the diverse and challenging field of Non-profits, so Non-profit Management was my natural focus. I communicated with other leaders in my field who were TESC Alumni and they raved about the program. I flew in from Korea and sat in on Doreen's class (which had a legislative guest speaker) where I fell in love with the class structure, campus and the welcoming faculty.


I was impressed with the cost (half the price of UW!) and needed to be able to work throughout my program. There were no other schools which offered the class structure I was seeking with such a high quality, nationally recognized program.

Take Aways

My greatest takeaway is an increased sense of self and confidence, to conduct research, create white papers, give presentations, make websites and brochures and use new technology. These new ways to advocate for change to an audience, gave me confidence as an asset to both employers and clients.  I feel equipped to sell myself!

The seminar structure, my cohort and the faculty have really changed my life. Being surrounded by strong female (and male) professionals who are eager to share their knowledge and perspectives, even to attend national conferences and present with, faculty who are constantly offering you opportunities, to co-publish, attend events, apply for internships...there aren't really words to describe just how much I have grown, personally and professionally. My goals are aimed sky high because of the support I've received directly from these individuals and from all I've learned during Seminar.

The advice I'd offer: "Soak it up". As students, we invest time, money (and sometimes tears) into these short years in graduate school. There may be no other time in your life that your sole intention is self improvement and to gain new knowledge. It is over too soon, so enjoy the ride! And remember to thank your partner/family for all of their support because there really is no time to do any housework...

Lexie Tom

Lexie Tom- expected 2014 MPA Graduate, Tribal Administration

Curriculum Development at Northwest Indian College

 I chose the Evergreen MPA program because it is the only program in the Pacific Northwest area that offers the tribal government concentration. I am a Lummi tribal member who is pursuing an education for the betterment of my community. A master’s degree in tribal government fit the needs of my community.


I am very impressed with the value of this program. I am getting more than what I originally expected. The instructors are professionals in the field that have a lot to offer.

Take Aways

A great take-away from the Evergreen MPA program is learning various strategies tribes are using in sovereignty issues and improving infrastructure. I also believe the training we are receiving in research design is invaluable.

The people I have met in my cohort have a special place in my heart. When we are out of school I miss them. When it comes time to graduate we will continue to be friends and family.

Coming from a mainstream university where instructors aren’t always approachable, I’ve had a very different experience in the Evergreen MPA program. Instructors in the MPA program are not only approachable, but humble people with experience and expertise in their field. So learning skills needed in order to administer tribal governments from people with these qualities really enhances our classroom experience. It really shows us students the true meaning of servant leadership.

The seminar structure at Evergreen is something I was not familiar with. I was always the student that absorbed all of the information given in class, without the interaction. I am a very quiet person. Seminars give students like me the opportunity to speak on topics that are important to me. It gives me the opportunity to feel like I am contributing to the classroom experience.

When I first applied to Evergreen the statement that really stuck out to me was by Joseph DeLaCruz about self-determination:“No right is more sacred to a nation, to a people, than the right to freely determine its social, economic, political and cultural future without external interference.” This is so important for Tribal Nations today to understand. This statement speaks to the true meaning of self-determination. And it speaks to my experience here in the Evergreen MPA program. In classes we talk about what self-determination really means, and it’s different for each tribe. This curriculum was not designed to always give every answer we are seeking. As students it’s our responsibility to dig deep and find answers that suit our own tribes for ourselves.