Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.
When Hurricane Irma slammed the state of Florida in September 2017, School of Public Affairs outstanding graduate Max Goshert left the comforts of Phoenix to help those in need.
“I think that my experiences there were more helpful to my degree,” said Goshert, who is earning a master’s degree in public policy, “because I got to see what public policy in an emergency situation looks like.”
Goshert assisted shelters with logistics in Orlando and Miami, helping analyze data and provide information to get supplies where they were needed. His decision to help others caused him to miss classes and forgo the first part of the fall 2017 semester. It also dashed any chance he had of graduating in the spring.
It’s a decision he doesn’t regret. If anything, it taught him the important role public policy can play.
“Without well-crafted public policy, communities don’t operate in the ways that they should, especially when you put the strain of a massive, category five hurricane barreling down on them,” he said.
Goshert benefited from his experience working in the nonprofit sector. After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona in 2012, he participated in Public Allies Arizona, an AmeriCorps program administered through the Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Management and Leadership in the School of Community Resources and Development. Goshert was placed with St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix and was hired on full time after his 10-month placement. He supervised dozens of volunteers every day and helped raise money and in-kind donations for the nonprofit that serves people in need. Goshert then went to work for the American Red Cross, where he coordinated drowning prevention and life-saving classes in aquatic facilities throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Southern California.
When he returned from helping out after Hurricane Irma, Goshert resumed his full-time job at the local Red Cross and his education at ASU.
His hands-on approach to learning included competing in the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, a national student competition that challenges students to come up with high-level policy recommendations to immediately respond to a major cyber incident.
The experience sent him to Washington, D.C., where Goshert’s team advanced to the semifinals. Those teammates have turned into lasting friends, including one who was an online student from Tennessee.
Goshert is also on track to earn his Master of Education Policy from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU in the spring of 2020. He plans to eventually work in education policy.
“I think that the only way we can avoid our society heading in a bad direction is by dedicating ourselves to educating the population,” he said. “One’s education should never end.”
He has big goals for improving education at a state level, and eventually at a national level.
“Our country is among the highest spenders of all developed countries in education, yet we have so little to show for it — and a large part of that is due to inequality in education, said Goshert. “What we could do to improve education in our state because it’s so poor as it is, is to focus on inequality on education.
“That can be addressed by, among other things, summer educational programs or year-round schooling,” he said. “Right now, those who can afford that do it and those who can’t fall behind.”
Goshert decided to pursue his graduate degree after leading a statewide effort to recall former Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. He felt Arizona’s top education official was not adequately addressing Arizona’s dismal educational performance, instead focusing on what he called trivial issues. Despite mobilizing volunteers statewide, they could not obtain the required 366,128 signatures by the 90-day deadline.
“I was so lucky to have a chance to lead over a thousand people all across the state to talk to their fellow Arizonans about why we need better leaders for our education system,” said Goshert. “My experience with the recall is what drove me to pursue a master’s in public policy at ASU in hopes that I could assist our leaders in building a better future for Arizona’s youth.”
Goshert credits the School of Public Affairs graduate program with providing him a multifaceted approach to public policy and a wide array of policy discussions.
“I have learned so much from each of the classes that I’ve taken that I’ve been able to apply,” Goshert said. “I loved this program because there was so much diversity as far as the information that we were presented.”
Goshert is already putting his degree to work as a senior research associate for the Grand Canyon Institute, a Phoenix-based nonpartisan think tank that provides analysis of fiscal and economic issues from a centrist perspective.
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