An interview with Charlie Epperson, MPA 2014
What were you doing before you came to the LKY School of Public Policy?
Before my arrival I was completing a four-year assignment with the U.S. Coast Guard on the island of Guam. As the most Western territory of the U.S., Guam is an active military and commercial port and I was sent there to establish the Coast Guard’s mission to protect military vessels and assets as part of President Obama’s “Pivot to the Pacific” initiative.
A collateral responsibility was to support our Search and Rescue (SAR) Command Centre during search and rescue operations. Our unit was responsible for a SAR region the size of the continental U.S. that covers the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, as well as Guam.
These cases are the highlight of my assignment. Although I had a small role in many of the cases, it gave me a chance to be part of a team that made a difference that ultimately saved lives of many people throughout the Western Pacific.
How did you come to know of the LKY School and what was the main factor that attracted you to apply?
I had recently finished up a programme at the Kennedy School of Government known as the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. That programme stimulated my desire to complete a one-year mid-career MPA programme. I was living in San Francisco at the time and attended one of the graduate school information sessions and discovered the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Thereafter, I worked with the LKY School to get their programme approved for the U.S. Veteran Affairs’ G.I. Bill that offers full tuition and a housing allowance to former and active military personnel. A free education in Singapore is hard to pass up.
Charlie Epperson is currently taking a Masters in Public Administration programme at the LKY School
What were some other schools you have considered, and what influenced you to accept our offer?
I applied to the Harvard Kennedy School, the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the LKY School. Having worked in the Oceania region for a few years, my focus fell on Asia and Singapore was an attractive option. The LKY School offered me the chance to work with 59 professionals from 25 different countries and it’s difficult to find such diversity elsewhere.
What is your impression of the LKY School so far? Which part of your programme do you enjoy the most?
The programme has been a great stimulus for viewing the world through different lens. As an American, I am aware that my perspective is shaped by my experiences and the culture around me. The opportunity to hear from my classmates on sensitive and complex issues has helped me to grow as a professional.
I genuinely appreciate the diversity of the classroom and interacting with my classmates from various countries like Bhutan, Pakistan, China, South Korea, and India. Each of us has taken different paths in life, but we’ve converged in Singapore to learn and grow together.
Have you travelled to Singapore before? What is your most memorable experience here?
I travelled to Singapore to visit the LKY School in late 2011 and sat in one of the classes. I was able to see Professor Ashish Lall in action and enjoyed the banter and how he challenged students to participate.
As for Singapore, I personally feel it lives up to its reputation for cleanliness and a great public transport system. Planes depart, buses arrive, and trains function to a fine degree of precision that I hardly see elsewhere. My fondest experience is running through the Botanic Gardens adjacent to the LKY School. It is one of the greenest areas of Singapore and a relaxing place to spend a few hours each day.
Who would you recommend the LKY School to, and how do you feel it will benefit them?
I feel that Americans and more specifically those in the U.S. government and military sector should look to see if this programme fits their career and professional goals. It is an exceptional setting to work with future leaders from Asia and beyond. I see value in embracing the cultural differences among my classmates, which ultimately leads to a greater understanding of their perspective and opinions on issues that matter.
Another huge point for me and to others, I feel, is the overseas study project which forms a critical part of the curriculum. This year, I am traveling to India to work on the Ganges River Clean-up Project. The project is a massive undertaking by the Government of India, various international organisations, and numerous advocacy groups that will impact over 500 million people who rely on the Ganges River everyday to survive. I look forward to the trip and living together with my fellow classmates to get to know them even better.
Aside from the comprehensive information on our admissions page, if you have any other queries or would like to receive a copy of our programme brochure, please submit your request via our query form. Alternatively, you may also speak to our admissions officers at +65 6516 8004.