Maricarmen is a second year MPA student from Mexico concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in International Conflict Resolution. Prior to SIPA, she worked for three years at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, as one of the Ambassador’s National Security Advisers. During college, she volunteered in Kenya, where she designed and developed the project “Sustainable Production of Dolls”, a program designed to empower women in the Mfangano community. She also studied abroad for one year in Seoul, South Korea, where she researched and developed the thesis, “North Korean Nuclear Strategy Against the United States: A Country Looking for its Survival,” for which she was recognized as having produced the best thesis of the year by the Universidad de Monterrey.
What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?
My best experience at SIPA has been my summer internship with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as part of the Drivers of Conflict and Peace: Practicum, directed by The Conflict Resolution Center of Columbia University. Thanks to this program I had the opportunity to spend two months researching illegal logging and conflict resolution in Kosovo. I also had the chance to travel around the Balkans and get to know better one of the most interesting regions in the world.
Do you feel like you have gotten to know some of the faculty members?
Absolutely. Professors at SIPA are open to talk to the students and help as much as they can in their academic and professional development. Professor Dipali Mukhopadhyay, Paola Maria Valenti and Stuart Gottlieb, among other professors at SIPA, are always willing to listen to students’ concerns.
SIPA features lots of events for students to attend. Is there any interesting presentation that you have attended that you could comment upon?
During my first semester at SIPA I had the opportunity to attend a conference with Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN. The event was a small event at SIPA in which the students had the opportunity to ask questions and have a great conversation with Mr. Annan. It was such an honor to be there with such a great international figure.
What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?
During my first semester I took a course called “Evolving Military Strategy Post-9/11” with Admiral Eric T. Olson (retired). For the class final examination we had to analyze the National Military Strategy to the United States of America and identify three main issues that were not addressed or were weak and present our finding though a teleconference to Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. The fact that I was directly presenting my advice to the most important figure in the US Military was by far the most challenging experience at SIPA.
Did you choose to attend SIPA to change careers, or to gain experience in a career path you already had experience in?
I joined SIPA to gain particular skills related to my training on conflict resolution and international security issues. Before SIPA I worked for three years at the Embassy of Mexico. There I learned about national security issues in a very hands-on fashion, but I still felt I lacked some of the conceptual foundations for understanding military and intelligence components of national and international security policies. I decided that the International Security Concentration at SIPA was going to help me fill the gap in my professional career.