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U of R graduate expands her knowledge and refines her leadership skills at JSGS

Amanda Willcox wanted to continue her education with a program that would equip her with the skills to become a leader for positive change in the public service. She is passionate about finding opportunities to work alongside others while establishing policies that help to improve our society.

“I chose the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) because I wanted to improve my comprehension of the behind-the-scenes operations and processes in the public service in order to better serve the public interest as I continue working in the public service,” said Willcox. “The MPA program really changed the way I looked at public policy and rounded out my skill sets as a professional.”

Willcox completed a Bachelor of Human Justice degree at the University of Regina (U of R) and started working as a Mediator for the Ministry of Justice shortly after. Part way through the MPA program, Willcox took on a new role as the Director of Advisory Services and Municipal Relations in the Ministry of Government Relations. On June 11, 2021, she will graduate with her MPA from JSGS. 

“I have always had a passion for conflict resolution, communication, and strengthening relationships. I ultimately want to help people work better together, communicate effectively, and ensure that the needs of our citizens are being met. That was a major focus in my role as a Mediator, and I want to bring those skills to every policy area I work in,” said Willcox.

Willcox loves her work as a public servant and is excited by the positive impact she could have through a variety of positions in the future. 

“I always like to set the bar really high for myself. I really like leadership, and think I’m not bad at it, so I aspire to be a senior public servant one day. Maybe even a deputy minister!” said Willcox. 

Willcox felt confident in her understanding of strategic management and ethical leadership, but learning more about public finance in JSGS 838: Public Sector Financial Management and JSGS 802: Public Finance helped her to see government processes from a “bird’s eye view” and find her own place in them.

“I really enjoy the ‘people’ side of public service, where even the paperwork we do as public servants is going to have an impact on someone’s life. In the end, we need to remember the people we are serving in our community.”

The connections Willcox made with students at JSGS will also prove to be valuable to her career. She has already discovered that many of her classmates have secured employment with the provincial government, and is looking forward to supporting and connecting with them throughout their careers.

“I still, to this day, talk to the person that sat next to me on orientation day and now she is also employed in the public service. We are there as resources for each other, and that connection is invaluable to both of us,” said Willcox. “Saskatchewan is such a small place and knowing people to help create that almost instant connection is so helpful to developing good policy.”

Willcox was dedicated to expanding her knowledge of government practices while studying at JSGS and advises future MPA students to also find their “why” that will keep them focussed on their goals and allow them to advance in their careers.

“Find what you are passionate about and go for it! Policy work takes dedication and passion. There are times you need to draw on that passion to carry you through,” said Willcox. “Congratulations to the other students that are graduating with me, the ones that have come before me, and those that are coming after. I look forward to seeing you all on the other side!”