Role of a SIPA Peer Advisor

Starting graduate school can be a difficult challenge for many of us, especially if we’ve been out of school for a while. Moving to a new city (NYC!), dealing again with school pressure, and juggling personal and professional tasks during your arrival can be overwhelming. Despite all these trials, I remember my first semester at SIPA as a great experience that exceeded all my expectations. Today I am certain that this positive experience started with a smooth transition to my new life: I was fortunate that second-year students gave me their advice, guidance, and support. That is why I decided to participate in the first SIPA Peer Advisor Program that was launched last fall during Orientation Week. Around 15 of my second-year classmates were selected to assist and welcome the incoming class of 2014.

I was a Peer Advisor for 24 students of the most diverse nationalities and backgrounds.  As a second-year student I shared with first-years useful information and insight to SIPA’s demanding academic and vibrant social life. I did my best to help them understand the process of searching for courses and registration; gave them details on the some of the courses they were eager to take; and explained how to get to a room that seemed impossible to find. I also shared with them some of my strategies for academic success and time management in order to take full advantage of SIPA’s and Columbia’s offerings. In the evenings, I joined them in the social events and parties that took place during Orientation Week. My advisees became so close that they still have lunch almost every Tuesday. Personally, being part of Orientation Week as a SIPA Peer Advisor was a great experience because I got to know new people with diverse interests and tons of stories to tell. At the same time, it was a nice opportunity to serve SIPA and its community 🙂

Posted by: Mariana Iturriaga-Cossío, MIA, Degree Candidate 2013 and SIPA Peer Advisor