As a senior at UMass Lowell earning his bachelor’s degree in music education, Tyler McMillan ’17 thought about continuing for his master’s in the same field.
But he was already teaching private guitar lessons in people’s homes, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to work full time in a school. Then he heard about the new Master of Public Administration program, which offers a concentration in public arts and humanities.
He says it offers the perfect blend of business skills and advanced study in music and the humanities, especially English and history. It also offers lots of practical experience through service-learning internships with local partners.
“I can’t say enough about how flexible the program is in terms of real-world experience,” McMillan says. “I’ve been studying for one year, part time, and it’s been incredible so far. I’ve already had two internships.”
The first was through Assoc. Prof. of English Diana Archibald’s Writing in the Community class. He helped write profiles and content for the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, a nonprofit that offers exhibits, classes and events. The second was a directed study helping Mass Poetry with grant research and writing.
McMillan is studying part time, running group music classes for preschoolers and teaching guitar for the Music Academy of Chelmsford about 25 hours a week, and also teaching private guitar lessons.
He’s started an alternative rock band with two other UML music graduates and a friend (they’re still working on a name). He plays guitar and sings lead vocals – and dreams of starting a nonprofit recording studio one day, like the one they use in Boston.
McMillan became interested in nonprofits and public service as an undergraduate Emerging Scholar, working on the Ecosonic Playground in a group led by Asst. Prof. of Music Elissa Johnson-Green. The playground is aimed at bringing musical play to children in underserved communities. The children also learn science and math concepts by helping to build the musical play structures out of low-cost and recycled materials.
“I really liked public sector research and working with children,” he says.
As he continues in the M.P.A. program, taking courses such as Public and Nonprofit Budgeting, McMillan’s management skills – and possible careers – keep growing, he says. For that class, he wrote a 35-page analysis of the budget for his hometown of Ayer.
“The more I take these classes, the more avenues I open up for myself,” he says. “I feel really empowered by the program.”