Janet L. McCoy



AUBURN -- After John Brooks picks up his diploma at Auburn University's commencement ceremonies on Friday, he'll likely have one of the best jobs waiting for him of the 244 AU students receiving master's degrees.

The recipient of the prestigious Presidential Management Intern Program, Brooks has accepted a job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington D.C.

Brooks, a Maryland native, will receive a degree in a dual master's program, in public administration and community planning, and will then head to FEMA's Office of National Affairs.

"I'll be coordinating work with the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and with regional offices on anti-terrorism issues to prevent what happened in Oklahoma City from happening again," Brooks said.

The Presidential Management Intern Program was established by executive order in 1977 to attract to federal service outstanding individuals from a wide variety of academic disciplines. Of the 2,500 applicants, only 400 nationwide were selected.

Those chosen for the program receive an initial two-year position and are then eligible for conversion to a permanent government position. In addition, during the two year program, they attend workshops, seminars and other training programs.

Christa Slaton, an associate professor of political science and director of AU's Master's of Public Administration program, says the program is very competitive and Brooks' selection, as well as a winner from last year, shows the strength of AU's MPA program and its students.

"In the past, the program was for public administration graduate students, but it's be opened up to include students from a variety of fields, making it even more competitive," Slaton said.

"We feel like if you go into public administration, you're really going into public service and we cultivate that," she said.

Slaton said they took a team approach to Brooks' application, with faculty, retired faculty and alumni helping prepare Brooks for the final interviews.

The selection into the program is rigorous, and include one-on-one interviews, an essay test and group problem solving. Once that hurdle is completed, the remaining applicants are sent to a job fair where many federal agencies gather to interview candidates.

Brooks, who received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Tampa, says he's always been interested in public service. After receiving his undergraduate degree, went to work in a Washington D.C. law firm.

Brooks' wife, Erin, a Birmingham native, was working for the Secret Service and later went on to law school at Duke University.

After her graduation, the couple decided to move south to Birmingham, and Brooks says that's when he became interested in attending graduate school in public administration.

"Auburn had the best reputation of everywhere I looked," Brooks said.

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CONTACT: Brooks at 334/502-7133; Slaton at 334/844-5371.