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The Daily Reward

by Nicole D. Carr '84

An impoverished childhood and being raised by a single mom were my inspiration to not simply do better than my parents, but to excel with passion and persistence. The words of my late mentor, the American folklorist Roger Abrahams, “Use only quality ingredients in life’s stew,” became the impetus for me to create a life recipe of my own: a dash of friends, a pinch of work, and a daily sprinkle of applied knowledge from my Scripps education. In fact, my education has become a primary ingredient in reaching my life’s goals.

I vividly recall waving goodbye to my mother and boarding a plane for the first time, knowing that Scripps would be the catalyst for many transformations in my life, the most significant being the multiyear investment by Scripps faculty to help me, a shy, intelligent girl with uneven grades, become the confident woman who would go on to lead a public service organization. At Scripps, I was mentored to develop strong communication, leadership, and writing skills and inspired to lead my life with passion and purpose. This led to my next transformation: I earned a full fellowship to attend a joint New York University/City University, New York, graduate program to study public administration, earning my Master of Public Administration degree.

Later, my leadership and communication skills were immediately put to use when I was appointed assistant deputy director for the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). At HCD, I was responsible for administering grant and loan programs for families and individuals through housing policies aimed at reducing the incidence of homelessness. After my HCD appointment, I sought a different challenge: empowering civil servants and aligning their work with departmental missions to create an engaged workforce. In my current role as a Human Resource Services (HRS) director for the Department of Social Services, I achieve this goal by drawing on the analytical skills I developed at Scripps. With the help of my HRS team, I have streamlined hiring processes to recruit and retain the talent needed to meet the department’s mission to serve and protect needy families.

When I’m not working to strengthen the capacities of public administration, I serve as a staff writer for the International Public Management Association, where I am tasked with developing content related to government innovation. In my private life, I write for pleasure, and my poetry and fiction have been published and recognized with awards from the Methow Valley’s Writing by Writers Society, the California Poetry Society, and the Lillian Osborn Memorial Foundation.

I am grateful for my admission to Scripps, as my education enabled me to secure a fellowship to graduate school and serve in executive-level positions to develop policies that help vulnerable populations shape better futures. The skills I acquired at Scripps afforded me opportunities to find my life’s work as a writer and a public servant, which allows me to enjoy the daily reward of improving the lives of others.

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