Last week left a web of tangled, sweet and sour feelings in me. It was incredibly happy and emotional, but certainly sad, as we, class of 2013, leave behind our beloved International Affairs Building to conquer our dreams around the world. Loving family members flew from places as Japan, Chile, New Jersey and California to proudly see their sons and daughters, their sisters, nephews, brothers and spouses walk down the graduation aisle and shake Dean Robert Lieberman’s hand to receive a degree from one of the best educational institutions in the world. But much beyond that, they came to cheer for us, to share with their friends our great accomplishments, and to take a small peak of what SIPA and Columbia leave us with. Their satisfaction, I dare to say, was immense.
Seeing all those smiles around campus, all those proud faces, and even the picture-taking-mania made me realize once again how lucky I am. I’ve had some of the best years of my life during my time at SIPA. I’ve build truly rewarding friendships; with people dear to my heart that I know will remain part of it in the years to come. I have worked in Kenya, traveled for research to Peru, and discovered the endless, fascinating corners of New York. I’ve had innumerable amounts of beer, all shared with people I feel somehow I was destined to meet. I’ve learned countless new things from the most talented academics in their field. From how to implement a public health nutrition intervention to the impact of colonialism in African development, I have learned to better understand and address the complex development challenges of our world. And this might sound as the typical cheesy phrase us development nerds might be tempted to include on our LinkedIn profiles, but I truly mean it. Today, even those long nights in the library, reading and writing frenetically before a midnight deadline, have lost their sour taste.
They say our minds are wise enough to recolor our memories and keep more of the good ones on the surface. Maybe I am under this colorblind effect right now, but I just feel immensely happy and grateful to this school, this university, and above all, to those that so proudly cheered for us last Thursday. Today, sitting among boxes while I pack up my university-housing apartment, the only thing I can say is thank you SIPA, you will be deeply missed. And for those of you getting ready to start this new adventure soon, (with a little bit of envy), rest, take care of your liver and your brains, and prepare to truly enjoy the years to come.
Mariana Costa Checa