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Matthew Wells

Master of Community Development

From: Greensboro, North Carolina


What were you doing before enrolling in the Master of Community Development program, and why did you choose to pursue a Master of Community Development at Iowa State University? 

My undergraduate studies were as a Community & Regional Planning & Regional Economic Development double major at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I graduated in May 2015 and worked as a code enforcement officer for 6 months before getting hired as a planner by the City of Archdale in April 2016, where I still currently work everyday.

I realized that in order to advance in my career that I needed a Master’s degree. As I work a lot with our community and our citizens, the program sounded very appealing. I liked how there was a variety of course offerings and I could choose the ones that fit me and my career aspirations. I originally started in the Great Plains IDEA program in the Spring of 2019 and finished my last semester here at Iowa State University’s Master of Community Development program.


Can you please share any unique projects or experiences you had while a student in the Master of Community Development program? How did this opportunity shape your understanding of community development and future goals?

I really enjoyed each of my courses, but the three I enjoyed the most were courses on grant-writing, evaluations, and organizing for community change. Each of these courses had something I could take back to my job as a planner and apply it in my work. This is what I enjoyed the most – every course was practical and hands-on. As someone with a full-time job, the flexibility in courses and the ability to do projects on things I enjoyed learning about or was doing in my day-to-day work was a big plus for me.


What advice do you have for anyone considering Iowa State or the Master of Community Development program? 

For any new student, I would tell them that it does not matter how long you take, but that you see it to the end. It is worth it! I did one class a semester and it took 4 years, but it was worth it as I balanced life, school, and work. Don’t be afraid to reach out to classmates as many of them are probably in a similar situation.


How will knowledge or experience gained through the Master of Community Development program impact your future?

I plan to take these skills back to my current job and hope to get the opportunity to be a Planning Director somewhere here in North Carolina, whether it’s in Archdale or the greater Piedmont Triad area.

January 17, 2023 9:14 am

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