Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis

Master of Public Administration Graduate Josh Rubenstein


I’m the chief meteorologist over at
channel 2 and channel 9. I get up at uh… 2:45 every morning and uh…
start uh… on the air at 4:30. How many of you are up at 4:30? How many? Really? I usually get one. Maybe when you’re out late the night before, right? Is that what it is? I was never the smart one of my
family. My brother was always the scholar. My mom was a teacher and my dad
was a writer, my uncle was a successful lawyer in Chicago, and I was the one that had pizzazz. My family celebrated culture and
learning — it was clear I, however, [sneeze in audience] God bless you; would never be the one at the head of
the class which makes tonight a little unique. It was a Tuesday about two-half years ago,
I walk into work and I had found that all the bosses that hired me sixteen years ago were fired. New management team came in and they were wiping everybody out. So fearing doom, I started to assess what am I going to do
for the rest of my life, uh…I decided what would be next after
weather? Well I was always enamored by local
politics– again, I was good in front of a crowd so
I thought maybe someday I’d go into politics or city planning. What better way to leave your mark
in the world then building city? So, it was back to school. uh… I sat in on an orientation meeting
two years ago, just like the one you have right here at uh… Cal State, and heard about this MPA program and I decided I’m going to give it a shot. Now uh, I don’t think I ever really believed that
I would finish it. I think when I sat here and thought —
and maybe some of you are sitting here are thinking the same kind of thing like maybe I’ll try this. We’ll see how this works
out. You know, is it really, can I see myself two years from now you know, walking across the stage getting my
diploma there — I don’t know but I’m gonna give it a shot because you know what, only smart people
get master’s right? And I wasn’t the smart one. I was the funny one, the smiling one. um… So I decide to give it a
shot. I found myself sitting in Sierra Hall which is just on the other side of campus over
here on that first day of class room full of twentysomethings this was my cohort, ’cause I was in the
cohort for the urban planning track and uh… I was wearing a toga when
they were born so that kind of gives you an idea. But CSUN here would make us the great
equalizer, because we were going to do this all together. and uh…We were waiting for Dr.
Campbell who also teaches that Introduction to Public Administration
class that 610 class and he walks in with a stack of books and I thought, what is he thinking
he’s got the stack of books puts it all down this was his light reading. This is what he said, maybe try to
read this, and maybe you should read this. What are you talking about? I’ve got the
textbook, I’ve got these papers I have to write, I have assignments that I have to
do and you want me to do the light reading here? This big stack of books that he has just
for fun, that was his thing. But something was very different about this class about Dr. Campbell and it was from the minute we sat down he treated us like scholars. He brought those books in and what I realized later was because the joy in this master’s program could be gained through the journey and not the means to the end. I actually enjoyed a stimulating
exchange, I realized that this time around school might be a little
different. This might actually be worth it. Two weeks later, my brother, forty-five years old died of a massive heart attack. um… Now he was the smart one, right? He was the intellectual one he earned his master’s he earned his
doctorate and he was gone and I just started this
program. Part of the reason that I went back to school was to find
some way to be an equal with him and now I knew that would never happen. I didn’t think there was any way I could
continue on in this program. uh… There’s no way I could do a
grueling run of a new class every eight weeks for two years and that’s really
what it is. A new class every single eight weeks uh… we hardly take any
holidays off. We’re here when nobody’s on campus uh… tons of reading, dozens of
papers, all kinds of tests. I found a certain peace in doing it. And I found a certain peace in expanding my
knowledge base. So I continued on. And I was sitting there in Professor
Toker’s uh… research methods class and I was actually enjoy a lecture on how to interpret regression analysis. Really? Really? What is going on here?
What has happened to me? I’m enjoying a lecture on regression — and if you don’t know what
that is you will by the time you’re done with this program. Now, I’m not going to tell you this is an easy thing
to do, going through this. I had faced a number of challenges. I had to face what happened to my brother and you know, working over at CBS;
up at 2:45 every morning; we get on the air at 4:30 and I
can’t have a bad day. I got to come out smiling and being happy. But you know what, I stuck through. I went through and continued on. I held
on a full-time job; I tried to be good dad to my seven-year-old; uh… a good husband to my wife; I
was the chair of the uh… Los Angeles our police department’s community police advisory board; I was on the board of my temple; uh… I did all this while I was in school. But the two years that I thought would
never end, ended just this last weekend on Saturday I took the comprehensive exams. [points to MPA professor] You need to go back and start reading those comprehensive exam please. But a funny thing happened along the way I became a student. I realized that I could be the
intellectual one. I realized that I did have something to
say. I realized I could be a good student and
I know it’s kind of silly, I’ve got a career, I’m not planning on leaving the
news business anytime soon but uh… I got this thing which is the uh… medal for achieving
honors. uh… Its now one of my prized possessions. And
as I ended the program on Saturday, I have a 4.0 all A’s throughout all the classes. Which uh… which meant a lot to me.
Getting my master’s here is best choice I ever made. It help me to understand
that learning can be a lifelong pursuit. That uh… reading scholarly texts can
actually be fun. As I watch the Olympics this last
week with my daughter uh… who’s crazy but gymnastics, I kept
reminding her that there’s just nothing like the joy of hard work paying off — which is what this was. You don’t know what you’re made of
until you really challenge yourself. But most importantly the lesson that
CSUN taught me or I would almost call it a gift if you
want to be a little sappy — I learned that maybe I am the smart one in my family.

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