Pirate Press recently sat down with alumnus Mark Habana, M.P.A. '04.
Habana spoke about why he chose Seton Hall, his experiences with his
Masters program and different ways in which he is staying connected to
Mark A. Habana, M.P.A. '04
How are you staying connected to the University?
Because of my time at Seton Hall, I give back and stayed connected.
Aside from being a donor to Seton Hall’s annual campaign, I have spent
some time with other M.P.A. graduates coordinating the M.P.A. Alumni Club.
We are very much in the early stages in the evolution of the club and
are recruiting fellow alumni to join us as we give back to the school,
provide connections for one another and current students and develop
events in partnership with the Alumni Office and the M.P.A. and M.H.A.
I am a part of the steering committee, with Zenaida Steinhauer and
others. Our goals are creating a network for the alumni, resources for
current students and developing at least one club event per semester.
Our short term goal is to strengthen the leadership and knowledge base
of the club by increasing recruitment and participation, with the
ultimate hope of creating a dependable resource for alumni and students
through its events, networks and outreach efforts. I think that says it
I also stay connected to the Filipino League at Seton Hall (FLASH), a
student organization for Filipino-American students at the University.
A couple years ago, I presented a short talk on “Malakas at Maganda”
(Strength and Beauty) – the creation myth of the Philippines, with a
focus on the Filipino man – for the members of FLASH.
Why did you choose Seton Hall?
At the time that I was exploring graduate studies, I was interested
in changing careers and moving from the for-profit sector (and corporate
R&D) into the not-for-profit sector. Although I appreciated my
role as an analytical chemist, I learned that I needed two things in my
work environment, one that encouraged deeper social interactions while
focusing on helping others. I joined an affinity group at the company
and helped drive several diversity initiatives to meet these needs. But
soon, I reflected on my responsibilities and weighed them against my
work in the community.
I realized that there was something simply more rewarding in the
direct interaction I had with others who were in need. Working on
company goals behind a lab coat and conducting chemical experiments
didn’t provide the impact I was looking for. My first step was to enter
a program that would allow me to sharpen my skills and develop the
necessary knowledge to successfully transition my career. For many
reasons, Seton Hall was the right choice for me. It was close to home,
employed impressive faculty members and was ranked in the top 5 of M.P.A.
programs in the nation. I was looking forward to the experience.
How has your experience at Seton Hall influenced your current career path?
As circumstance would have it, I was in my last semester at Seton
Hall when my position at the company was eliminated. It was perfect
timing! It gave me the opportunity to focus my attention on volunteer
work. Later that year, and as an SHU graduate with the M.P.A. degree, I
landed my first job in the not-for-profit sector with a local science
museum. I gained practical experience about non-profit management, but
more importantly, I learned about fundraising and its important role in
For continued training, I attended both the Board Leadership
Institute (BLI) and the Nonprofit Financial Management Program offered by
the Hall’s Nonprofit Sector Resource Institute. Eventually, grants
became my niche. And as I gained more confidence in fundraising, I
joined a non-profit board for a young professional network dedicated to
empowering the Filipino American community, called CORE, Inc., and was
elected chairman. A few years later, I moved on to Columbia University,
where I currently work as a Project Officer in Sponsored Projects
Administration. It is the central office for grants at the University.
Outside of work, I continue to advise for CORE. I serve on two
boards: (1) HandangTumulong Foundation, an organization that raises
money to build a disaster relief fund to address calamities in the
Philippines and throughout the world; and (2) The Filipino School of New
York/New Jersey, which provides cultural and language programs for
students and adults interested in learning about Filipino culture. All
this, while completing my second Masters degree. In fact, I am in my
last semester at Columbia University, finishing an M.S. in Fundraising
Management. I am thankful to Seton Hall, especially Dr. Naomi Wish,
Barkley Calkins and the faculty for being the most influential
contributor(s), if not the foundation, of my current career path.
For more information on the M.P.A. Alumni Club, contact Nicholas Sena in the Office of Alumni Relations at (973)378-9827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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