Graduate Student Earns Prestigious Eagleton Institute Fellowship

By Tom McLaughlin

Looking back now, says David Spector, his family actually didn’t have much interest in politics. But they did believe in connecting with their community through their constant volunteering efforts.

“It was those personal experiences that got me thinking, ‘How can I make a career out of serving others?’” recalls Spector, a 2010 graduate of Rutgers University–Camden with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a current student in the master of public administration (MPA) program.

From his days serving as the founding president of the Rutgers–Camden Democratic Club to his burgeoning political career in South Jersey – highlighted by his tenure as a councilman for the Borough of Bellmawr – Spector would learn time and again that his education and practical experience went hand in hand.

And the best is yet to come.

The Rutgers–Camden graduate student has earned the Governor’s Executive Award, one of several prestigious fellowships offered to select Rutgers graduate students by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The interdisciplinary fellowship will enable Spector the opportunity to work with practitioners in executive units of New Jersey government, who will help bridge the gap between his academic training and the everyday challenges of a career in politics and public affairs.

Spector will take the “Eagleton Seminar in American Politics” course at Rutgers University–New Brunswick this fall and then serve an internship with a New Jersey state government department or agency in spring 2018.

For the lifelong Bellmawr resident, the fellowship is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“It is everything that I want to do with my career, and to finally have that opportunity as a graduate student is something special,” says Spector. “To network and be involved with other classmates from across the state with the same interests in policy and government is going to be a truly invaluable experience.”

As Spector explains, he was more than excited to return to his Rutgers–Camden roots to continue his studies. He credits his undergraduate experience – including his attentive and engaging political science professors, a close-knit atmosphere among the students, and a solid grounding in political science theory – for helping to hone his raw passion for public service and give him the foundation needed to succeed in his career.

Among his most memorable experiences was taking an internship course that enabled students to gain practical experience in their chosen fields.

“Here we were college students ready to graduate without knowing what to expect,” recalls Spector. “It was one of the greatest classes I have ever taken.”

Upon graduating from Rutgers–Camden in 2010, Spector served as media and outreach coordinator for the Camden County Democratic Committee.

The position proved to be a springboard for his next post serving as the outreach and communication coordinator for New Jersey’s Fourth District legislative offices of Sen. Fred Madden, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera. In that role, he developed and managed social media, spearheaded communications, handled constituent casework and relations, and coordinated outreach efforts.

“Through these positions, I gained a solid understanding of how government functions to serve the public,” says Spector. “I took a lot of pride in helping constituents, many of whom didn’t know where to go or who to turn to when they had a problem. Whatever the issue was, I tried to help people find the proper resources, and if I didn’t have the right answer, I pointed them in the right direction to someone who did.”

Spector then served as an elected councilman in Bellmawr from September 2015 to December 2016, which included his role as liaison for the senior citizen, building and lands, and board of health committees.

He recalls how the Rutgers–Camden MPA program was a trusted resource on the job, bolstering his expertise in, among other things, public policy, budgeting and other key governmental concepts.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the MPA program,” says Spector, who graduated from Paul VI High School in Haddon Township.

He then transitioned to the private sector, working as the director of government affairs for the law offices of Lynda L. Hinkle, LLC, in Washington Township.

Spector plans to stay involved in government relations and public affairs, with aspirations of staying involved in government and eyeing a run for the office of Camden County freeholder in the future.

And when he does seek public office, says Spector, he knows that his Rutgers degrees will make him that much more equipped to handle the job.

“That’s my calling, my passion,” he says. “With my degrees, combined with everything that I’ve accomplished and experienced in such a short period of time, I’ll be more than ready to take on the job.”

Posted in: Scarlet Pride

Comments are closed.