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MaryBeth Spoehr is pursuing her master of public administration degree within the School of Government. She received her bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Michigan Technological University, where she also competed on the women’s varsity soccer team and completed her training in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following her undergraduate studies, she commissioned into the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer. She served on active duty as a captain for five years before beginning her graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

MaryBeth Spoehr

What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?

Choosing UNC-Chapel Hill to study in the School of Government was an easy choice. I knew that I wanted to receive an education from – and be part of – an organization that values and emphasizes public service. UNC-Chapel Hill is the ideal place for me to pursue my master of public administration degree with a focus in local government management.

Tell us about your research.

My current research is identifying key similarities in North Carolina city charters that contribute to a stable local government as evidenced by a higher city bond rating. Bond-rating scores are important to local governments because they are external agency evaluations that certify the creditworthiness of the municipality. Local governments often rely on bonds to maintain and improve infrastructure and grow their community. Through identifying similarities of higher-rated cities, other local governments can identify key steps to take to improve their bond rating score and enable them to provide key infrastructure and improvements within their municipality.

What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in graduate school?

The military taught me the skills to adapt to new challenges and new environments. This was essential as I went from military service into graduate school while adapting to the challenges of a virtual learning format. An unexpected challenge of the virtual learning format was the lack of interaction with others in my cohort. I relied on my experiences of building a team when geographically distant to build connections with my peers and to enhance my learning experience.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?

I want to continue public service in local government within North Carolina. The degree from UNC-Chapel Hill equips me with the knowledge, resources, and network to contribute to local government leadership.

Describe Military-Affiliated Grads in five words.

Committed, connected, sincere, positive, dedicated!

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