Students in Southern Arkansas University’s Master of Public Administration program are required to complete a professional project toward the end of their degree program.

This is an opportunity for them to directly apply their skills and content knowledge to their communities and make real change within their communities.

Among activities of MAP students are the following.

Saida Walker — In partnership with Kristin Higgins and the UA Cooperative Extension Services and Public Policy Center in Little Rock, Walker has started the creation of a centralized database regarding statewide ballot issues that will lead to a greater platform for public awareness and more knowledgeable citizens voting in the future. SAU looks forward to continuing the project and focusing on issues important to Arkansas citizens.

Madison Crane – Crane is pursuing an MPA with an emphasis in Social Entrepreneurship which allows MPA and MBA students to take selected cross-discipline courses. She worked to create a guide highlighting how a small business can increase its brand awareness and have a social media presence, a valuable tool for people who are just starting their social media journey.

Valerie Davis – Davis has completed the research and all initial requirements to have the Family Life Center in El Dorado, currently owned by the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, listed on the Arkansas Historic Register. The graduate program at SAU looks forward to seeing this project continue well into the future.

Pearline Gill – Gill worked with members of her community to create a Neighborhood Watch Program in conjunction with Captain Jason Parker (an MPA alumni who recently finished his project where he created a pamphlet of mental health resources for first responders) and Patrol Sergeant Andre Lovett of the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Jacob Tinnell – In his final semester, Tinnell focused on grant writing and project management when he set out to write a grant for a public batting cage in Magnolia. He worked with representatives from the City of Magnolia and is awaiting a response from the funder.

As the MPA program grows, SAU continues to look for opportunities for students to serve communities. People may contact Dr. Amber Overholser, MPA program director, at or 870-904-6695, if they have projects that need assistance from MPA students.

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