After earning his bachelor’s degree, Patrick Clayton (MPA ’04) decided to take a couple of years off before going back for his master’s. Twenty years later, after stints with the Air Force; Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); local law enforcement in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) out of Savannah, Georgia, Clayton made it back to the college classroom, earning his Master of Public Administration degree from Augusta University, then Augusta State University.
Now chief deputy for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, Clayton, who was a 2017 distinguished alum, credits his MPA with providing a lot of the skills he currently uses. “I got a lot out of it,” he says. “It’s a lot different going from working with groups of 30 or 40 to 750, and the MPA really helped me make the transition.”
1. How has your definition of success changed throughout your career?
In my younger days, I loved the thrill of the hunt — going out and pursuing organizations and dismantling them. But this is more satisfying in some respects because you’re actually helping a lot more people. I can see the impact that the sheriff’s office is making on the community.
2. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
What I’m most proud of at this stage of my career are the relationships I’ve forged. In the first 10 years or so — I’ve got over 40 now — I really didn’t see the value of relationships. But it slowly dawned on me that this is a team atmosphere, and you need to get that through your head.
3. How has your MPA degree helped you?
We in law enforcement tend to be very insular, and the public administration degree I received kind of forces you to see things from a big-picture perspective. It gets you to be more open, especially in terms of collaboration.