Michael Howland-Davis didn’t expect his career to focus on education and public policy when he left the army after eight years. With a creative mind, and a talent for telling a good story, Davis thought his post-college career would permanently lead him to the newsroom.

“I fell in love with writing in my first semester of college, and I wanted a job where I could get paid doing what I enjoyed. I didn’t see myself here back in 1997. This was the furthest thing from my mind.

“When I left college I became a journalist and then a public relations practitioner. Later I became involved in nonprofit management. I discovered that I needed an advanced degree if I wanted to lead a nonprofit. When I returned to school for my Masters of Public Administration, I fell in love with learning.”

Howland-Davis’ research in program evaluation led him to examine, and later work on a solution for, the problems that children were facing in public education. A simple research project turned into an examination of public education, and he saw the impact it had on his own family.

“My son graduated from APS. He was socialized under the ‘No Child Left Behind’ act and I’ve done a lot of work with him to get him over that. I didn’t see the standardized test results until 18 months after he took the exam. That was the same time his teachers had seen them. At which point they’re useless. How are you going to use data that is 18 months old?”

Howland-Davis’ research led him to a class on Diversity in Higher Education offered by UNM sociology professor Robert Ibarra, and to an evolving model of education breaking the mold set up by 1,000 years of teaching.

“I was so impressed with Ibarra’s model that I completely scrapped my first capstone project and focused on the Accelerate New Mexico program and how it exemplified Ibarra’s multicontextuality paradigm. This became my final capstone project, which turned into 150 pages of really great research and an MPA with distinction. I am continuing work on this throughout my doctoral studies.”