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SPAA Graduate Bimpé Fageyinbo Explores the Artistry in Public Administration

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Bimpé Fageyinbo prepares to share passages from "What was Me" at her book launch.

Last year, Bimpé Fageyinbo released What was Me, her second book of poetry. Accomplished as a poet and a photojournalist, Fageyinbo is an artist – an artist who stumbled into a master of public administration degree.

She can’t explain exactly how it happened, but one day she spoke to the assistant dean of the undergraduate program at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) about graduate studies and her dream of teaching at the college level and decided to join the MPA program.

Despite her decision to enroll, she was nervous about how she would fare in the program and curious as to how the coursework could possibly align with her interests and expertise.

Her first semester, she took a “Cultural Investment and Urban Transformations” course about the role of the arts in urban revitalization and found her comfort zone.

“That class really gave me confidence that I could pursue this degree and find a way through this program as an artist,” said Fageyinbo. “It was the bridge between my interests and the field of public administration, and I decided that my concentration would be nonprofit management because most cultural arts institutions are nonprofit.”

Through a career fair hosted by SPAA, Fageyinbo connected with “Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance,” a not-for-profit organization that promotes local businesses in Newark.  She worked with the organization to create a photodocumentary that was exhibited in Newark’s “Open Doors” arts festival.

“The documentary highlighted local, independent entrepreneurs and localism experts and that was my first solo exhibit,” Fageyinbo said. “My work from the documentary was also published in Philanthropy Journal so that was really cool too.”

As she continued her coursework, she discovered advantages in classes such as strategic planning and grant writing where she was able to utilize her writing skills and creativity. For her capstone project, she studied the impact of arts education on students’ cognitive development and found a positive relationship between the two.

Before finishing her degree, she achieved her dream of teaching college students when she became an adjunct professor at her alma mater – the Newark College of Arts and Sciences (NCAS) at Rutgers University–Newark. Fageyinbo earned her journalism degree at NCAS and now teaches alongside former professors as a colleague. Since 2017, she’s taught two courses: “Creative Writing and Media” and “Newsroom Workshop.”

“I love teaching young people and impacting people’s lives,” Fageyinbo said. “Journalism is such a true field in the sense that we’re telling stories and giving voices to people who don’t have them, and I love being in that environment with the students.”

Now that Fageyinbo has earned her MPA, she wants to continue what she’s doing on a larger scale. Currently, she does book readings at locations in New Jersey and New York and plans to go on larger reading tours for What Was Me and her first book of poetry, So Maybe That’s the Bee’s Weakness.

She also intends to continue teaching and pursue a PhD, most likely in a writing field such as journalism.

“I really feel like I’m just getting started,” Fageyinbo said. “So everything I’ve accomplished thus far is just the beginning.”