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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Michael Herbert, Dedicated to Community Service

Community+Planning+and+Public+Affairs%2C+2007

Community Planning and Public Affairs, 2007

In his very first class in graduate school, Michael Herbert learned to navigate The Power Wheel. 
“You look at an issue, look at all the different stake holders that are involved with it, and basically it’s for finding out who you need to have on your side, and who has a vested interest in a policy issue, even if they don’t know they have a vested interest.” 
In the class New England Political Environment, with professor John Viola, Herbert learned to organize support for public policies, something he uses regularly now as the Assistant Town Manager of Ashland, which is in the Metro West area of Massachusetts. 
“When you have angry residents screaming at you, and you get bashed in the paper and things like that, that’s not fun, but if I wasn’t passionate about this job I wouldn’t be able to last in it, and that goes for anybody who’s in a management or administrative function in local government. The ability to see the effects of things that you do on a daily basis, and in people’s lives are pretty powerful.” 
Herbert discovered his interest in local governance before enrolling as an undergrad at UMass Boston. He had dropped out of another institution, where he was a music major. While working in the community college system, he started getting involved in local affairs in the town of Winthrop, where he lived. 
“I wanted to go toward a community planning role, so UMass Boston offered that degree and that’s what initially interested me. When I got there I had a great experience. I had some great professors there who took an interest in how I developed. I also got involved in student life, Student Senate.” 
While pursuing his interest in policy and government, Herbert wanted to be involved on campus. 
“I wasn’t yet 30, but I was getting close to it. I thought I could add that type of perspective to student government, and it was interesting.” 
He applied for a job that the Student Senate created called the Student Educational Resource and Advocacy Center Director, a liaison role between student government and the university administration and some state level policy makers. “I was able to be involved in things like dorms on campus, things that were at the time, even though it wasn’t that long ago, pretty controversial. But it was an opportunity to be involved in that discussion, and help the community reach some kind of consensus about the way to go.”
Married, with a kid on the way, going to school full time, and working part time, Herbert invested his few free hours into the campus community. 
“If I was able to break away from Columbia Point, it was usually to spend time with family, so I spent a lot of time there, but I didn’t have much room for extracurriculars.” 
He made a host of friends through his work on the Student Senate, and in the McCormack School of Public Affairs he made even more lasting connections. 
“What was really great about my grad program is we did it as a cohort model, and so all twenty of us went through every course together, and that really created some lasting relationships. There are quite a few of us that went into local government afterwards, and I talk to a lot of them on a somewhat regular basis just in my professional capacity.” 
Massachusetts local and state government is a central focus in the McCormack School, where Herbert studied. The resources available at 
UMass Boston connect the most local governance issues with national and even international politics. 
“You’ve got a wealth of resources right there, just in the fact you’ve got the [Massachusetts] Archives. You’ve got the Kennedy Library, and now you have the Kennedy Institute, so it’s a unique place from a logistical standpoint, having ac- cess to different historical records that you can use to research some of your policy decisions that you wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.” 
From his teachers and mentors at UMB, Herbert learned commitment, and the value of investing time in the success of others. 
“I wouldn’t have been able to get through undergraduate without a few real key professors. One was Ann Withorn. Another was Michael Stone. Another was Lauren Oran-Rivera, and Andrew Leong. All four of them were instrumental in helping me work through my undergraduate degree.” 
Several staff members, like Elaine Ward, also influenced Herbert’s studies. 
“I really just enjoyed pretty much all of the classes quite frankly. It was a very diverse cross section. Probably if I had to pick a favorite it would be economics with Randy Aldalda. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite in grad school.” 
He enjoyed studying with such a diverse student body, racially, demographically, and socioeconomically. 
“I was in classes with those who were just out of high school, and with people who were in their 40s, and going back to school to get an- other degree, or they had just never finished, and that kind of life experience lends itself to better student outcomes.” 
Returning to campus occasionally for events related to local government Herbert enjoys observing the growth and construction that was just beginning when he was a student. 
“The times I go there are spaced far enough apart to see dramatic changes to the campus each time I go, and I’m absolutely thrilled to see the investment that’s being made there, in the physical plant and the infrastructure.” 
Investment in infrastructure was deeply needed when Herbert was a student. 
“When I went there, they just had really started shutting down the garage under Wheatley because all the concrete was falling. To go from that to seeing some of these beautiful new structures being put up is really cool.” 
As UMB enters its 50th year, Herbert hopes folks on campus never forget where the campus came from or where it’s going. Most of all he hopes students remember that the best success comes from making your community better. 
“You get out what you put in,” he says.

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010