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Public policy graduate wins award from government finance officers' group

by Cindy Weiss - June 23, 2008


A recent graduate of the Department of Public Policy’s master of public administration program has won a prestigious national award, the $10,000 Daniel B. Goldberg scholarship from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Barbara Rua, MPA ’08, was recognized for outstanding performance by a graduate student preparing for a career in state and local finance.

She completed three internships as a grad student. She was a junior financial analyst with the Transportation Security Administration in the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.; a legislative research assistant with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association; and an intern in the financial services offices of the town of West Hartford, where she also worked part time as a cash specialist in the Revenue Office.

She earned graduate certificates in finance and in public and nonprofit management, and she plans to work in state or local government in Connecticut. Her goal is to become a finance director for a city or town.

Her capstone research project in public finance was on the financial health of Connecticut cities and towns. Using data for all 169 towns in the state over five years, she analyzed their revenues, expenses, and debt to assess their relative financial health.

The program from which she graduated was recently ranked seventh in the nation in the public finance and budgeting field by U.S. News & World Report.

Rua’s graduate advisers were associate professor Mark Robbins and professor Bill Simonsen.

Barbara Rua, MPA '08
Barbara Rua, MPA '08
Photo by Daniel Buttrey

Initially, she had thought about going to law school after graduating in 2006 from UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a major in political science.

But as a senior, she was able to test the waters in public policy, taking two graduate courses in DPP. That convinced her that the MPA program would provide her the background she needed to work in government.

As an undergraduate, she interned with the Connecticut state legislature.

“That was where my interest was sparked,” she says.

As treasurer and then president of the public policy graduate student association, she has traveled twice to New Orleans, where graduate students from the Department of Public Policy have worked on re-building housing in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

On her most recent trip this spring, where the students worked in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit and least reconstructed areas, Rua was impressed by the determination of local residents.

“Everyday citizens have stepped up into leadership roles,” she says. “They are becoming real community leaders.”

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