For a small group of graduate students in the public administration Master’s program, winning the Student Organization of the Year award given by the Student Government Association at West Virginia University reflected a year’s worth of hard work.

The organization was selected out of three finalists following a presentation to the SGA board of governors during a public meeting earlier this year.

“On the evening of our presentation, several members and officers attended to hear our presentation to the board. We didn’t realize that voting and results were going to be made directly following the three presentations,” said Hilah Zia, Student Association of Public Administrators director of professional development. “After hearing all three groups, I had a feeling we would win.”

The Student Organization of the Year acknowledges and rewards the organization that has accomplished great service to the community and University, held consistent meetings, organized creative outreach activities and had a positive impact on WVU as a whole.

SAPA earned a $500 prize to use for the next school year.

“It was a huge accomplishment and an opportunity for us to reflect on all the work we did this past year. Our members are the main contributors to our success,” Zia said. “We had a countless number of community service activities, socials and professional development events that allowed our members to get involved.”

Matthew Boczanowski, president of SAPA, said the award recognized the dedication of not only the group members but the entire division of public administration as a whole.

“Our members put in a lot of hard work in preparing both the application and the presentation for this award. It felt great to know that we had been recognized, and we could not have done it without the involvement of our members or the continued support from our faculty and staff,” Boczanowski said.

SAPA’s mission is to promote academics, service to the community, professional development and networking to public administration students. The group has been around for nearly 20 years and recognizes all public administration students as members.

Create the Fix: Empowering the Public to Solve the Federal Budget Crisis was a symposium held by SAPA that initially aimed to communicate a truthful, non-politicized picture of the federal budget to the public and create a conversation to take a step toward developing realistic solutions. With more than 70 attendees spanning from students, alumni, community professionals and experts in the field, the event allowed for active engagement with participation in communicating elements that impact the issue.

The organization most recently hosted guests from the White House Office of Management and Budget, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Ron Nixon and Washington correspondent for the New York Times among others. Other service activities include working with the Ronald McDonald House, S.H.O.P., Adopt-A-Highway and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

“In addition to updating the organization’s constitution through a constitutional convention, the officers and committee chairs developed a large number of unique events that engaged their membership as well as students from other departments and schools, local, state and federal officials and the public,” said Karen Kunz, SAPA faculty advisor and assistant professor of public administration. “The outgoing officers leave a challenging legacy for the incoming officers as SAPA celebrates its 20th anniversary next academic year.”

Zia, SAPA president-elect for next school year, said the award has given the students a boost to start planning for the following year’s activities.

“I am looking forward to see what next year has to offer,” Zia said. “We have a great group of officers that are eager to get started with great ideas and enthusiasm to continue to build SAPA.”

For more information on SAPA, visit For more information on the public administration master’s program, visit



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