GASPPA Featured Alumni

Yovana Gojnic-Clewett, MPPA 2015 photo of Yovana Gojnic-Clewett

Adolescent Physical Activity Levels: The Influence of High School Physical Education Participation © 2015 Yovana Lyn Gojnic.

Where you work:
California Franchise Tax Board

Research Data Specialist I

How did the MPPA program help you achieve career goals? 

I am grateful to the MPPA program for providing me with the necessary education and support to successfully launch my career.  In my current job as a revenue analyst, the research and data analysis skills that I gained allow me to make valued contributions within my work area.  Additional opportunities throughout the organization are also opening for me as a result of the strong writing, public speaking and teamwork abilities that I developed through the program.  Specifically, I have taken on a key volunteer role within FTB’s employee talent management program, which aims to develop and motivate employees.  I largely attribute my ability to make such a positive contribution to the agency as a result of the education on organizations that I received in the 240 courses and through the Yolo County projects, where my groups focused on employee engagement topics.  My enthusiasm toward improving the employee culture at Franchise Tax Board has allowed me to network across the organization at a faster rate than I would if I did not get involved.

What were some of the most valuable lessons learned in the MPPA program?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned is the realization that I am capable of much more than I envisioned before entering the program.  I entered the MPPA program with an education background in International Policy (focused on Peace and Security) and in Gerontology, so I did not feel particularly well versed in many state and local policy topics at the outset.  My initial goal was to take a few PPA courses in order to obtain a Master’s in Gerontology.  I started with a mindset of purely advocating for the older adult population, but as I started taking the coursework, I was excited at the thought of being able to make an even greater impact on California’s diverse demographic population by switching my degree to solely focus on Public Policy and Administration.  The high demands of the MPPA program truly pushed me to be a better analyst and researcher.  I feel that the program trained me so well to be an unbiased analyst on such a wide range of topics, that I now have a thriving career at a tax agency, without any prior tax background.  

Another lesson that I learned coming out of the program was that my thesis research was not going to help me launch my career.  Even though I knew this, since I am a very idealistic person, and health and fitness are such integral parts of my daily life, I tried extremely hard to create a path where my day-to-day passions would align with my policy career.  Although the MPPA program equipped me with the knowledge and skills to create such a path for myself, I was not prepared for the large influence that family priorities would factor into my current career path decision.  Even if opening my own non-profit agency is not in the cards for me at this time, I know that my skills are valuable in many different public sector jobs, and that I have the ability to pave the way toward alternate career paths if I ever desire to make a change.  I realize that at this point in my life, I most value a career that offers me work/family balance, where I feel valued as an employee, and where I can make positive contributions to the culture of the organization.

Tips you would like to give current students on how the program can help them for their future, or to network.

Don’t be afraid to step up to a new challenge.  I was terrified of public speaking before entering the program.  Lucky (or unlucky) for people like me, I got a chance to face my fears in almost every PPA course.  Aside from the group presentations that we gave in class, the most significant change in me resulted from being encouraged to enter my research in several student research competitions.  My experiences in preparing and presenting at those competitions ultimately solidified my confidence in being able to create a presentation and to present it to a large audience.  At FTB, I’ve already given several presentations to large groups on employee development topics.

Get involved in the agency where you work.  My current organization employs approximately 6,000 people, but by volunteering my time to help with employee development efforts, fundraisers, and even joining the FTB Choir, I have been able to network with so many people.  Getting involved really helped me with networking and made such a large organization seem smaller.     

Please feel free to contact me.