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40,000 Miles Scholarship for Public Administration Blazes a Trail

Dec 1, 2016
by Laura Smith

For two and a half years, Butch and Delsia Margraf of Winter Park, Florida, were road warriors. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon they would leave their jobs with the City of Winter Park at 2:30 p.m., stop home to take care of their beloved Cocker Spaniel, Freebee, and then make the 200-mile roundtrip journey to Flagler College where the two were enrolled in the Public Administration Program (PAD).

The non-traditional course of study leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration is designed to meet the educational and career objectives of working professionals, especially those already employed in local governments and non-profit organizations.

After each trip to Flagler, the couple would return home before midnight, hit the hay and rise at dawn to head to the office. Two Saturdays a month, they repeated the drive to attend PAD’s weekend classes. By the time they both graduated in 2013, the Margrafs had completed the trip 200 times and racked up 40,000 miles on the road.

To mark that journey, the couple has now established the “40,000 Mile Scholarship for Public Administration Students.” The scholarship will offer financial assistance to other working adults pursing their degrees through the program.

The Margrafs came up with the idea for the scholarship after talking with Flagler College Institutional Advancement staff and discovering there had been no such scholarship established to date.

“We definitely wanted to do something to give back,” said Butch. “When you are an older person going back to school, your perspective on education is completely changed. We feel we gained so much — both professionally and personally — from the PAD program, and we were very happy to work with the college to come up with this idea. There’s something symbolic about the miles we traveled on the road to pursue our degrees — it was a real journey, both literally and metaphorically. We hope to assist others who are traveling the same road, so to speak.”

The Margrafs both work in public administration for the City of Winter Park: Butch as traffic manager and Delsia as utility services manager. While they were students, they frequently shared their ride to Flagler with another student from Winter Park, Chief James White of Winter Park Fire Rescue, who was also pursuing his Public Administration degree at the same time.

“The program completely parallels and supports what we do in public administration,” Delsia said. “We are so glad that we took the step to earn our degrees through this program, and we only hope that establishing this scholarship will help others do the same. It’s been an awesome experience.”

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