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Alumnus Profile: Coby MacMaster

Aquinas College graduates know that the hard work and challenges they may face in school will pay off. Sometimes that pay-off comes in the form of one-of-a-kind opportunities. Coby MacMaster, who graduated in May 2014, knows the value of buckling down and doing the task at hand. A community leadership major and business administration minor, MacMaster will be heading off in the fall to a unique master’s program in Arkansas.

MacMaster found Aquinas appealing because of the sustainable business program, but after three years he realized he was “not really the business type” and was more interested in public service through the government or non-profit organizations. MacMaster made the switch to community leadership.

Though Aquinas provides a challenge that is sometimes daunting and overwhelming, MacMaster values Aquinas for that very reason. The challenge prepared him for various internships in the community including one with the West Grand Rapids Neighborhood Organization and another with Local First, promoting local businesses in Grand Rapids.

During his time at Aquinas, MacMaster has been involved in Student Senate, EPIC (Environmental Political Interactive Change), Students in Free Enterprise, and, until he moved off campus and began working full-time, Campus Life.

Now, MacMaster is looking ahead, past graduation from Aquinas, to the next step in his future: attending the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, to earn his master’s in public service. The Clinton School is an incredibly selective two-year program. The program accepts no more than one hundred students at a time and when MacMaster applied, they were taking fewer than fifty new students. After he visited the school in February, MacMaster applied for the program - a month late. He was placed on the waiting list and didn’t really expect to be accepted, but MacMaster clearly had what the Clinton School was looking for.

During his two years working on his master’s degree, MacMaster will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Bill Clinton. He will be studying abroad for ten weeks working on a service project, possibly in a third world country. His education will involve hands-on experience in the fields he hopes to work in.

After his two years at the Clinton School, MacMaster is considering joining the Peace Corps for a year or two. He thought about joining right after high school and even after graduating from Aquinas, but plans changed. Another possibility is working in Washington D.C. Many graduates from the Clinton School end up using their public service degree in D.C.

Over the past few years, MacMaster has learned what helps and what hinders in a college career. He would tell other students, “Don’t complain about how hard your classes are because if you complain it obviously means you want to do well, but complaining is going to take your focus off of everything and you’re not going to do as well in the long run. Do the hard work now and it’s going to pay off in your future.”