Graduate Student Spotlight

Ania Cosby, MPA Graduate

Ania Cosby

Ania Cosby, recent MPA and former BA graduate, is a Bearcat through and through. Arriving at UC in 2017, Ania had a strong interest in politics and history, electrified more so by the 2016 election. Her decision to study Political Science was solidified by research interests in political ideology and desire to impact others in her community.

Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Ania found herself at a crossroads: was graduate school the right option for her? How could she apply her knowledge to her ambitions in community-based work? What avenue would be best to help the greatest amount of people? Policy seemed like the answer, thus Ania applied to the Master’s in Public Administration program offered by SPIA.

From the beginning, it was a fit. “Joining was the best decision I made; the MPA program has been really valuable,” Cosby said. With a social justice concentration to boot, Ania can really make impact through policy. When she initially started in the program, she was offered the opportunity to work at the Center for Cyber Security and Policy which opened her mind to all the possibilities that exist within the political world. Her real passion remained with the people, though, and she was grateful to be offered a position with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful in 2022. As the Community Engagement Coordinator and Grants Manager, Ania got to learn more about the administrative side of the MPA degree, a refreshing twist from the politics she’d been so focused on since high school.

Through her role at Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Ania worked on projects to improve safety and livability in Cincinnati neighborhoods. “I really got to put my degree to use; I worked with council members, neighborhood businesses and community organizations to provide recommendations on improving the Safe & Clean program,” Cosby explained, “…a big part of doing grant management is hearing people’s stories, the issues and problems in their neighborhoods. Getting to hear their stories… my heart goes out to those people, and I want to find ways to help. I really believe that processes should change as communities change. So, I’ve changed the grants program to be more equitable to make sure people have a fair chance.”

On her own accord, Ania began leading grant writing workshops for folks in the community. She acts as their check-in person and an advocate so that even the unexperienced have a fair shot. She exemplifies the “strength in unity” slogan that UC holds so dearly by pulling together folks from all backgrounds for one greater good. “I feel it is my job to act as guide and help share what I know and give everyone a fair chance. All the people whom apply have genuine good intentions to better their communities and organization which I think is commendable. They deserve my respect and effort to assist in any way possible,” Cosby explained.

Beyond the grants program, Ania was also heavily involved with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful’s education department. The department has a focus on connecting with high school and college students, explaining their impact on surrounding communities’ environments.

Being a vehicle of change is important to Ania as demonstrated by both her current work and her goals for the future. By applying her undergraduate research knowledge into her everyday work, she can find solutions to real problems. Looking ahead, Ania wants to apply that knowledge and her work experiences to a career in local government as a public servant.

Before tomorrow becomes today, though, Ania is consciously creating a better future, especially for other people of color in her line of work. As the only Black employee of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Ania worked hard to advocate for intensified DEI trainings and for herself, so that those who come after her have a solid foundation to work with.

“My biggest ideals are being an advocate, being a system of change, and being someone who has the ambition and drive to cause change. Starting small with my local city and community, and hopefully growing overtime,” Cosby shared, “...being part of the MPA has brought my out of my shell a lot, so, I think the MPA program is really good beyond just public administration, but as a confidence booster.”

Upon her graduation from the MPA program in the spring of 2023, Ania accepted a role with the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio as a Grant Specialist. As a well-rounded professional, it is clear that Ania’s impact will last for years to come.