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Meet our Spring, 2013 Doctoral Graduates

Monday, July 15, 2013

In Spring, 2013, five students in the School of Public Affairs and administration graduated with their doctorates in Public Administration, and all five have successfully landed positions in which they will put their education into practice.


Erin earned her B. A. in Political Science and MPA in Public Administration from Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Immediately following, in fall 2008, Erin began her doctoral program at KU, and culminated her program by receiving honors on her doctoral dissertation defense.

She chose to apply to the School of Public Affairs and Administration because of its reputation, but says she knew immediately following her visit to KU that she wanted to study here.

Erin says it is important not to be afraid to take a break once in awhile. “Find something you love to do that isn’t related to school work and do it often”, she advises.

Erin assumed an Assistant Professor position at the University of Alabama in fall, 2013.


Zach received his B.S. in Economics from Kansas State University, graduating cum laud. He went on to earn his MPA at KU, then entered the doctoral program in Fall, 2009. He then served as the City Administrator of Cheney, Kansas for one year, and Assistant to the City Manager of Arkansas City.

“As a former student of economics, the applied training in financial management at KU changed how I viewed public finance and the  need for professional financial management,” Zach says. “Economic theory does not deal extensively with how one actually derives the cost and benefits of public services. KU’s program is very good about addressing problems that have both applied and theoretical value.”

While earning his doctorate, Zach and his wife Ashley had a son. “I am amazed how much this little guy has changed the way I have had to do my work,” Zach says.

Zach said farewell to the faculty and staff on May 14th, and says he particularly wants to thank Dr. Alfred Ho and Dr. Jacob Fowles for three rigorous and good years of studying public finance and budgeting with them. He is an Assistant Professor with the University of North Carolina Charlotte.


Alisa Moldavanova (pictured on the right with fellow graduate Angela Paez Murcia) earned baccalaureate and specialist degrees from Odessa National I.I. Mechnikov University, and a Degree of Candidate of Psychological Sciences awarded by the G.S. Kostiuk Institute of the Ukranian Academcy of Pedagogical Sciences in Kyiv, Ukraine along with her MPA from KU.

Alisa was a ranked public official in Ukraine, and worked for the Ukrainian Parliament. She also served a full time summer fellowship with the United States Congress, House Committee on  Foreign Affairs, where part of her responsibilities included researching the development of the  International Violence Against Women bill, and developing House Resolution 1314, “Remembering the 75th Anniversary of the Ukranian Famine-Genocide of 1932-33”.

She says her decision to enter public service was influenced by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, in which public protests of fraudulent presidential election results eventually resulted in constitutional reforms.

She came to the U.S. on a Muskie Graduate Fellowship, funded by the U.S. State Department. Her passion for scholarship and research led her to the Public Administration program at KU, where she says she found herself “surrounded by great intellectuals who served as my advisors and mentors.”

While pursuing her program, Alisa facilitated the development of a sister city partnership between Prairie Village, Kansas and Dolyna, Ukraine, taught and conducted research in the KU Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, gave guest lectures at the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and participated in research on the Ukraine for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth. She also got married to a Ph.D. student in a different discipline.

Alisa had the privilege of being mentored by H. George Frederickson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, without whom her journey would not have happened, she says. “His great ideas, tremendous life wisdom and always positive spirit have served as a great motivational force to me during all these years.” Alisa accepted a faculty position with Wayne State University.


Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Angela was a Professor of Administrative Law at the Universidad de Sabana in Colombia, South America.  A Fulbright Scholar, Angela chose KU because of the opportunity to specialize in law and public administration, and learn from leading experts in the field such as Dr. Charles (Chuck) Epp, who served as her faculty advisor and committee chair.

“I would compare getting a Ph.D. degree to running a long-distance race,” Angela says. “In my experience it is very important to engage in activities that complement classes and seminars and that would provide motivation for the research process.” To keep herself balanced, Angela started running and also took tango classes.

She also relied on a solid support structure of family and friends, and says she also found wonderful friends among her fellow Ph.D. students.

“In addition to this, I found it profoundly beneficial to take advantage of the academic advice from all the professors in seminars and classes,” she says. “Specifically I think by cultivating a good relationship with ones advisor and committee members it is possible to learn not only about theories and research methods but also, and most importantly, the skills that are necessary to succeed in academia.

I would also recommend taking advantage of all the amazing opportunities and support that KU has designed for doctoral students: write in’s, the graduate writing program, workshops, and brown bags.” Upon earning her Ph.D., Angela returned to her previous position with the Universidad de Sabana.


Maneekwan has worked at the Fiscal Policy Office, Ministry of Finance of The Royal Thai Government since 2004. FPO is the key economic policy advising agency to Thailand’s finance Minister. The Ministry of Finance provided a scholarship for Maneekwan to pursue a Ph.D. in the United States, and reserved her job until she graduated. She began her doctoral studies at KU in the fall of 2007, and completed her degree in Spring, 2013.

Upon her return to Thailand, Maneekwan was promoted to the Professional Level Econominst position in the Tax Policy Bureau.

Maneekwan’s work entails analyzing the merits of tax policy and providing recommendations to improve Thailand’s tax system. Her current projects include developing a new environmental taxation act, restructuring custom duties and organizing an academic seminar for the Asia-Pacific region.

Maneekwan is also in the process of gaining admittance to High Performance and Potential Systems (HIPPs), which is Thailand’s system to  prepare and promote career development of high potential government officials to the senior professional level. Maneekwan says HIPPs is a highly selective and competitive program, with only one percent of government officials throughout Thailand chosen to participate.

Maneekwan says she was searching for the top public administration programs in the U.S. when she found KU’s program, and says she was inspired to be a part of the academic excellence of one of the top ten public administration programs in the United States.

“And, I made the right decision,” Maneekwan states. “KU was the perfect place for me, not only for academic excellence, but also for the warm and welcoming faculty and colleagues that a larger program would not be able to offer. Lawrence is also a beautiful college town - the ideal place to concentrate on study and enjoy KU basketball.”


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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