Batten Student Spotlight: Gary Christensen MPP '23

Gary Christensen

This week, we sat down with first-year MPP student Gary Christensen to learn more about his Batten experience. Gary moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to attend Batten after spending several years at Goldman Sachs. His valuable professional experiences are just one step on Gary’s journey to Batten, and he shares his advice for prospective students in our latest blog post! 


What was your major/minor in undergrad?

I majored in Business Administration, with a minor in International Business, at Utah State University. 


What is the most surprising thing about Batten?

I’ve been surprised by how approachable the faculty, administration, and teaching assistants are at Batten. It really feels like you can walk into anyone’s office at any time and they will stop what they are doing to try and help you or just enjoy talking with you. 


What is your favorite part of Batten?

My favorite part of Batten has been the people in my cohort. It did not take long into the first semester to make friends that I will likely stay close with long after graduating. Everyone is so kind, collaborative, and driven! They have really helped create a learning environment in and out of the classroom. We have diverse backgrounds and ideologies which allows for unique perspectives and skill sets. 


Describe a day in your life at Batten: 

There are typically multiple assignments that we are juggling on any given day, so it is busy and sometimes can feel fairly fast paced. I’m constantly communicating with others in my cohort about different assignments and upcoming projects. We lean on each other for help, which usually sparks interesting conversations. Batten has so many events and on any given day there are guest speakers, networking chats, or workshops you can attend, and often they provide free food! Most of the time I stay on Grounds (campus) nearly all day between classes and homework, but honestly it’s usually so fun and time flies when you're working with your friends. 


Do you have any advice for potential students? 

The program is not overly rigid, so your time here is going to be as enlightening as you make it. The more open minded and compassionate you can be when you arrive here, the more you will get out of your classes and your cohort. I’ve been lucky enough to have a cohort who is always willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt, even when disagreements happen. This is why you should not be afraid to speak your mind!