Panama City, Florida
College:College of Community Innovation and Education
Degree Program:Nonprofit Management MNM, Public Administration MPA Dual Degree Track
While studying at UCF, Emily Winchester fell in love with the campus and remarkably diverse environment. She describes how her time and experiences at the university cultivated her career and shaped her life, saying she owes so much to the campus community. “Not only did I have some incredible opportunities as an undergrad that changed my career trajectory, but I also met and married my husband,” she says. Winchester first graduated from UCF in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. When she decided to pursue graduate school, she says continuing at UCF “seemed like a natural fit,” as she was drawn to the welcoming atmosphere of the university.
Her passion for supporting education, equality, and ethical government practices inspired Winchester to pursue dual master’s degrees in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration. The university’s impressive selection of nationally ranked academic programs geared towards these areas and the opportunity to complete a dual degree made UCF the perfect place for her to continue her education. “The possibility of a dual degree was incredibly appealing as it would open more doors and provide me more opportunities than a traditional master’s degree,” she says. She was also awarded a graduate assistantship with the university’s Multicultural Academic and Support Services Office, allowing her to graduate debt-free.
Within her program, Winchester praises the meaningful interactions she has with her peers. Though they are all working toward similar goals, she values the boundless diversity of thought and experience that contributes to a wealth of knowledge she says greatly enriches their education. “The honest and frank conversations that I have with my peers give me hope that the public sector can grow to be more empathic, tolerant, and inclusive as this generation moves from pupils to practitioners,” she says. She also praises her professors for encouraging her to learn and grow. She describes how Dr. Gregg Buckingham “always has a focus on real-world applications” and offers “constant encouragement for students,” while Dr. Daniel Seigler “regularly organizes trips for Public Administration students to Tallahassee to learn more about state legislature.” And though not professors, Winchester expresses how the entire staff of the Multicultural Academic and Support Services Office “has been so kind and supportive,” helping her along the way.
Winchester is “incredibly honored and humbled” to be recognized for her work at UCF. She was inducted by the Order of Pegasus, one of the most prestigious awards a student can attain, which recognizes exemplary performance by students in the areas of academic achievement, outstanding university involvement, leadership, and community service. Winchester is also a recipient of the Ann McCormick Simpson Endowed Scholarship and the Feldheim Nonprofit Management Endowed Scholarship. “I am so grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities I have had as a knight and thrilled to know that I was able to make an impact within this campus community that I love so much,” she says.
As for her peers, Winchester advises them to reach out and lean on UCF professors and staff. “They all want you to succeed and can offer you judgment-free advice, guidance on how to navigate the complexities of higher education, and connect you to resources and opportunities that benefit you,” she says. Winchester acknowledges how it can be challenging to open up to others and admit you are struggling, however, she has been “met with overwhelming support” any time she reached out to those at the university.
After completing her studies, she hopes to work within the social sector, either with nonprofit organizations or government entities, and serve the Central Florida community. Specifically, she aims to “engage in efforts to increase gender parity in government, better civic and voter education, and work to further social justice,” all to make our society a more inclusive place.
- Order of Pegasus inductee
- Ann McCormick Simpson Endowed Scholarship recipient
- Feldheim Nonprofit Management Endowed Scholarship recipient
- President's Leadership Council
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