Class of 2015
Master of Public Administration
Times are changing. I'm a part of it.
"I love the person that I'm still becoming," says Andrea Fobbs SNR'13, GS'15. "That's my personal motto."
The Master of Public Administration student has taken advantage of as many opportunities before her as she can, constantly learning, honing her skills, and zeroing in on her goals, all with an eye toward helping others.
One recent life-altering experience was a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2014 for an MPA course. "As a kid, I was always reminded of where we came from," said Fobbs, whose great-grandmother hailed from Ethiopia. "Forty-seven years later, going to South Africa was enlightening, spiritual. It was on my bucket list for years."
That 10-day trip over spring break "confirmed for me my purpose," said Fobbs, who already performs a lot of volunteer work at CNR and in her community. Seeing first-hand South Africa's struggles in providing for its citizens' basic needs gave her plenty to think about in her desire to establish a nonprofit foundation.
"It would need to be global," she said. "It should invite and affect everyone." The trip also intensified the soft spot she has in her heart for women and children in need. "I will empower them," she said.
The trip was only the latest in a series of new beginnings for Fobbs, who has lived in Mount Vernon for 20 years. Nearly three decades ago, she was an art major, ready to explore "the mysticism of art and statues and stories," when she became pregnant and opted out of school.
But in the years until she returned to the classroom, Fobbs never forgot the value of an education, citing the values imparted by her mother, a graduate of the College's John Cardinal O'Connor Campus in the Bronx in 1979. "All mom talked about was CNR," Fobbs said, "so it was the first place I called when I decided to go back to school."
After signing up for classes in 2010, Fobbs called her adult children, sat on a bench outside the school, and cried. She earned her bachelor's degree in 2013, after 112 credits, and spoke at her campus' hooding ceremony. "I want to send a beacon, to bring a new light, not just to myself, but to inspire others," she said.
And Fobbs lived up to her words. She still volunteers at the library for AmeriCorps, tutors students working on their GED, helps classmates with financial aid, and tries to help them readjust to the classroom after so many years away. "It's my social responsibility," she said.
In her GED classes, she seeks to inspire students beyond just facts and figures. She asks them, "What does the GED mean to you? Don't forget your purpose."
After graduating from SNR, she took a week off, then visited the Graduate School. She went back and forth for a while, then decided to apply and was accepted into the MPA program. Fobbs continues a long line of CNR students, as the eighth person in her family to graduate from the school. Her daughter also received her graduate degree from CNR this past May.
"CNR has given me so much more," Fobbs said. "I ate up the message of 'Wisdom for Life' -- I talk about the school all of the time."
Which explains why Fobbs thinks CNR might not want to let her leave after she gets her master's degree. "I would love to teach at SNR," she said. "I'm open to leaving, but I would love to stay home."
In addition to her long-term plans for a foundation, Fobbs also hopes to travel more. "I would love to do work in Africa," she said, citing programs bringing clean water and sneakers there. She's also interested in efforts to empower women and girls in Pakistan.
Regardless of the outlet, Fobbs will focus her energy on making a difference. "Times are changing," she said. "I'm a part of it."