A Lifelong Purpose to Learn: Video Transcript

Rick Platt (BA Public Administration and Speech Communication, Miami, 1989) [President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority]: I got interested in public administration...it's really something my family had said, "Public service is where it's at." And Miami University gave me that opportunity to distill that, to have an opportunity to show what I could do and translate that into making a difference in the communities that I've lived in, and again I credit that to Miami.

I became the youngest director of a state agency at age 24, and I really owe that to my professor pointing that out for me and giving me a start to my career. That's really been at the center of everything I've done ever since. It gave me an exposure to how to use the skills that I had learned at Miami, the knowledge that I had transferred into skills, and the ability to take that into a career that has seen me make a difference in the communities that I've lived in, and I feel like a difference in my state as well.

Miami University gave me the ability to learn and the lifelong purpose to learn. You never stop learning, and again I credit Miami University to giving me that capability.

The professors that I had clearly showed a desire to produce a consumer, a product. That's what we were as students. We were their customers, but also we were their products. I could see that they were ready to prepare us for the future, and really help us connect to the real world and what was ahead of us. And again, Miami University did that for us.

As a student, Miami University gave me a network that, both those that were in my graduating class that I could keep in touch with, but also those that had been in the real world and working in the business world.

There's a network that you form, a bond that you form that never leaves. But it's also the professors. I've kept in touch with Dr. Phil Russo, who's in Public Administration and heads that program up, and he's been a mentor for me throughout my career in the 30 years since I've been away from Miami University.

The career paths for someone in public administration are more than meets the eye. In today's society, we have folks who are beating up our government and saying there isn't a role for government. They're frankly wrong. To me, the folks that are motivated to pursue public administration are our future public leaders. They're going to be the folks who are setting public policy, helping us allocate limited resources, and frankly, there're opportunities in that field. I consider my field economic development, and the average age of a person in economic development is 51 years old. So that's a sign right there that there are plenty of opportunities going to open up in coming years for anyone in public administration. Public administration is a good background for economic development.

I was invited to be part of the inaugural advisory committee for the Ohio Public Leaders program.

Miami was able to show that they consider the students the number one thing they have to prepare. I don't see that at other places that I've interacted with. The Ohio Public Leaders program really immerses students into more than an internship, but a fellowship that really involves the students in what they do. But it's also a two-way street. We had a student, Caren Kay, who's a graduate in 2014. She came to work at our port authority, and we learned as much from her, I think, as she did from us. She showed us how to use geographic information systems in a way that I've not see anybody do in my years of watching that. I credit that student, who was a Fellow with that program, to show us the way.

Do an internship. Don't take any excuse in the book for not doing one. But, also be strategic about that internship. One path that you choose could be the path for the rest of your life, so make sure you've made a good choice. At the same time, everybody can go get a degree, but you also need to find what’s that demonstrable skill that differentiates you from the next person and the next degree that walks in the door. Those are the things that you could do while you're still here at Miami that prepare you for the rest of your life, but particularly for that next step in your career.

[October 2015]