Ethical Leadership Drives MPA Students’ Success at NASPAA Simulation Competition

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Villanova MPA student Kate Wasson was part of the winning NASPAA simulation team.
Villanova MPA student Kate Wasson was part of the winning NASPAA simulation team.

The mission of the Villanova University Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is to provide graduates the knowledge, values, skills and practices to be ethical, intelligent, inclusive and creative leaders in the field of public service. These qualities were on display at the 2024 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Student Simulation Competition this March as five Villanova MPA students competed in the regional competitions, with one student taking home a first-place finish in the Virginia region at Old Dominion University.

Villanova MPA student Kate Wasson was part of the winning team at Old Dominion, while Julia Alves, Allie Garret, Nika Kirillova and Ana Valentina Wey competed in the New York region at Metropolitan College of New York.

“It was an honor to attend the simulation,” said Wasson. “I learned so much about foreign policy and balancing different interests. The simulation showed me how difficult it can be to make decisions, especially on a global scale. Seeing how our decisions impacted the other teams as we try to negotiate with them gave me such important insight into the real-world decisions that our leaders make every day.”

In this year’s competition, players participated in the Host Nations simulation, which addressed challenges created by an influx of migrants. Players used their leadership and consensus-building skills to negotiate a regional response, agree on the distribution of shared resources and weigh the short-term costs of policies against long-term benefits. Teams were evaluated by the communication, negotiation, teamwork and critical thinking skills needed to excel in public service.

“Attending the NASPAA simulation was such an amazing experience that allowed me to gain a more in-depth understanding of the complexities that come with applying policy while under budgetary constraints,” said Wey. “This experience highlighted the importance of critical thinking and adaptability in high-stakes situations, and I am so glad I got to be a part of it.”

Villanova University was a Platinum DEIJA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Accessibility) Sponsor for the international competition, which took place at 12 sites across the globe as well as a NASPAA virtual site.

“We were excited to send five students to the competition and thrilled to celebrate Kate’s first-place finish,” said Villanova MPA Director Adam Kuczynski, PhD, JD ’16 MPA. “We are also proud to support NASPAA as Platinum DEIJA sponsors and share our belief in the importance of educational and professional communities that are diverse, inclusive and willing to address issues of equity.”

This year’s win adds to the list of successful NASPAA Simulation competitions for Villanova MPA students, who have also been on winning teams in 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023.

“The experience was invaluable in my graduate career as it allowed me to apply what I learned in class to a real-world scenario,” added Garrett. “It was an honor to be among such passionate and driven public administrators from across the world that I know will be changemakers in their respective fields.”

Learn more about Villanova’s graduate programs in Public Administration.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been the heart of the Villanova learning experience, offering foundational courses for undergraduate students in every college of the University. Serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students, the College is committed to fortifying them with intellectual rigor, multidisciplinary knowledge, moral courage and a global perspective. The College has more than 40 academic departments and programs across the humanities, social sciences, and natural and physical sciences.


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