student Spotlight

March Student Spotlight with Nikita Hardy (MPA '15)

March Student Spotlight

How does one juggle community work, volunteer work, MPA Club Presidential status, a family, a master’s degree in the making, and numerous other projects? Nikita Hardy (MPA ’15) offers insight into her busy, busy life.

How does one balance the role of wife and mother who actively volunteers in her community with a graduate assistantship and education at the School of Public Affairs?
Organization, a strong support system, determination, and faith are crucial to balancing my roles. My husband and I are a team; coordinating our schedules and alternating on household responsibilities allows me the flexibility to actively contribute. I started the MPA program when my daughter was just 3 months old and let me first state that it was a hard decision to make when I decided to attend school full-time but my vision of a better New York, United States and world was fueled by my passion for public service and my love for her.

She is a part of my community work. I bring her with me to my community board meetings and our monthly soup kitchen serving. This is how I was raised. The seed to give back was sown when I was young and I want her to continue in life with that mind frame and willingness to serve.

I've recently toyed with the idea of starting my blog, Millennial Mama, to share my experiences with young men and women considering starting a family or parents who are thinking of furthering their education, changing careers or starting a business. One doesn't have to choose one over the other and I hope my story shows that.

You recently represented the school at the Women’s Hemispheric Network Conference, a 17 Lex Society event, and a speech by Governor Cuomo. What did you contribute to these events? What have you gained?
During the Women’s Hemispheric Network Conference: Inspiring Women to Lead, I spent the morning listening to the panel of speakers from different countries and the afternoon networking. It was a humbling experience to be in a room full of prominent and influential women leaders from the private and public sectors. As a woman of color, it was inspiring to hear of the accomplishments of the minority women in attendance. As a mother, it was reaffirming through remarks from Marcela Drehmer, CFO of Odebrecht that making the decision to be a parent and professional does not have to be done with compromise.

At the 17 Lex Society reception I spoke with the dedicated leadership donors of Baruch College and had the pleasure of speaking with several alums. I had the opportunity to talk about myself and my experience as a student, and show the donors that their generous contribution to the college is manifested in the education and available resources for students.

It was an absolute honor and solidifying moment when I attended Governor Cuomo's speech – I had a seat in the room with professionals in government. Just being there was a gentle reminder of why I am here at the School of Public Affairs and the career I am aspiring to begin soon.

After all of these events, I make sure to bring back the information I received and share with my fellow School of Public Affairs peers. It also aids in the future program development of the MPA Club.

What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of as President of the MPA Club? What are some upcoming events or initiatives you’re gearing up for?
Implementing public service in the club by organizing “The IMPACT Team” for the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) survey is my most recent proud moment. At our first meeting in fall 2014, I expressed that the club should organize at least one service event to give back as part of our social and professional events of the year. This event was inspired by the 2013 Public Affairs Week presenters Commissioner Taylor of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS); Dr. Lance Freeman, Professor at Columbia University; and Mr. Bobby Watts, Executive Director of Care for the Homeless.

Upcoming events include: the co-sponsoring of the School’s Social Impact Career Fair on February 27th; the Women's History Month panel in March; a networking event in collaboration with ASPA Metro NY Chapter in April/May; and the International Students Coffee Mixer (TBD).

All of our executive members are graduating in May so we are actively seeking new leadership. We are hosting a meeting the end of this month to start the process. Young professionals with fresh ideas, vast experience and unique skills surround me. I am so proud of our club and its future.