Approximately one third of all North Carolina city and county managers are alumni of Appalachian State University. Sarah Harris ’14 ’15 is among those ranks.
Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science (BS) - Public Administration in 2014. During her senior year, she entered Appalachian’s Master of Public Administration program through the university’s accelerated admissions process.
She finished her master’s degree in December 2015 after an internship with the Town of Boonville as management advisor. That opportunity led to a full-time position by March 2016 as Boonville’s interim town administrator.
Of the accelerated admission program offered through Appalachian’s Cratis D. Williams School of Graduate Studies, Harris said, “I knew at some point I was going to have to come back to get my master’s degree, so I figured this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
In her internship, Harris advised the Town of Boonville Board of Commissioners on policy development and implementation, represented the town at a variety of meetings, conferences and governmental events at local, state and federal levels, and handled zoning issues. She was also an active member of the Boonville Women’s Club, Friends of the Library, Boonville Business Downtown Development Association, and led and directed the town’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.
“I love working with the community in multiple capacities to better Boonville, whether that’s through implementing policies or sitting on various committees as a volunteer,” Harris said.
Harris said that prospective students with an interest in public administration should choose Appalachian because it offers a curriculum that can be tailored to specific interests, with courses in administration of justice, not-for-profit management, public management or town/administrator/county management.
“Another great aspect of Appalachian is the ASU Local Government Alumni Association. The association is one of the largest alumni networks in the state and plays an active role in the program by offering mentors, scholarships, seminars and other supportive roles,” Harris said.
Two graduate student scholarships offered by Appalachian helped Harris make possible her dream of earning a master’s degree: the Marvin Hoffman Local Government Scholarship and North Carolina City and County Management Association Scholarship.