Manuel Alcantara
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My Story

After serving four years in the United States Marine Corps, including two deployments to Iraq in 2008 and 2009, Manuel Alcantara, or Manny, received his honorable discharge in 2011. He then completed his Bachelor’s degree in Fire Science Administration from Salem State University, and started working at the Lynn Fire Department in Massachusetts.

After three years of battling blazes, Manny wanted to expand his knowledge of how governments are run and how policies are established. He graduated with a Master of Public Administration from Northeastern University in May 2017.

This is Manny’s Northeastern story…

My Path
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Why Public Administration?

For Manny, pursuing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) made sense, especially after working in public administration his entire adult life both as a firefighter and a U.S. Marine.

“I love helping people, and I knew that a master’s degree in public administration would put me in a better position to do so.”

“My biggest issue with pursuing my master’s degree was flexibility. As a firefighter, my work schedule is very sporadic, which made a traditional course schedule virtually impossible. With Northeastern, I was able to mix my class schedule with traditional classroom and online courses. This allowed me to continue working full time while also receiving my education from a trusted university.”

Transformative Coursework

According to Manny, “PPUA 6505: Public Budgeting and Financial Management” gave him a better understanding of how the budget process is performed and the complexities that come with trying to manage short- and long-term expenditures.

“Budgeting is always a topic of conversation for fire departments across the nation, and gaining this understanding was incredibly helpful in understanding the role that planning plays in proper budget management.”

Photo Credit: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
From left: Manny Alcantara, Brittani McClendon, Wanda Jacobs, Antoniya Owens, Education Program Officer for The Boston Foundation, and Evan Berry. Courtesy photo
Experiential Learning

For his capstone project, Manny conducted research for The Boston Foundation with a focus on the Foundation’s college coaching program, Success Boston.

In a group of MPA students (pictured left), Manny developed a financial argument for why Massachusetts universities should help fund Success Boston.

The team’s literature review covered the impact of retention on colleges and universities, the effect of similar gateway and dual enrollment programs, and the impact of the changing population demographics on higher education enrollment.

“My team applied our knowledge of budgets from our ‘PPUA 6505: Public Budgeting and Financial Management‘ course and combined this with lessons we learned from the ‘PPUA 6502: Economic Institutions and Analysis‘ course. As someone who does not come from a financial background, this course challenged me and forced me to rely on lessons I’ve learned through the MPA Program. My group was made up entirely of MPA students, and the program put our entire team in a position to succeed on this project.”

Next Steps

Equipped with his MPA degree, Manny says he plans to pursue promotional opportunities within the Lynn Fire Department.

“While most people associate the fire service with fire suppression, there are many units within the department, including emergency management, emergency medical services, fire prevention, training, maintenance, communications, and arson investigation. My MPA degree has now made me qualified for many new positions that I will likely explore as I advance in my career.”

Photo Credit: Eric Winter/Northeastern University
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This was Manny's Northeastern Pathway... Where will yours lead?

Learn more at:

School of Public Policy and Urban AffairsNortheastern University