For this SIPA student stories series edition, we’ve decided to share with you the backgrounds of two of our amazing students who are in their first year of study at SIPA. One is a Fulbright scholar from Guatemala who now co-chairs the SIPA Student Association. The other student is from New Jersey and hopes to work for the City of New York one day. Let’s see what they’ve been up to!
Raúl Andres Soto, MPA ’15 is in the development practice program at SIPA. Raúl is a Fulbright scholar from Guatamala and a beneficiary of the Guatefuturo Foundation of Guatemala. Raúl holds a BS from the Universidad del Valle de Guatamala and has a diverse professional background in the academic, private and non-profit sectors in Guatemala. His contributions as an engineer started with his undergraduate work, where he took part in a multidisciplinary initiative to systematize the processing of Ramón (Maya Nut, Brosiumum spp) tree seeds. Raúl then worked for two years in the food industry in Guatemala, focusing on quality and food safety aspects in an exporting canning factory and a beverage factory (the manufacturers for Pepsi in Guatemala). In 2011, he assisted the productivity component of the program Opening Opportunities of the Population Council, which aims to provide life skills to female Maya youth in rural Guatemala. From 2012 until the beginning of graduate studies, he was an adjunct professor at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, having taught the food chemistry laboratory and coordinated multidisciplinary student projects such as the one he undertook for his graduation.
At SIPA, Raúl is the general secretary and academic affairs co-chair of the SIPA Student Association. This past summer, he undertook research at WorldFish and the International Livestock Research Institute of the CGIAR Consortium in Zambia. The work helped to assess the safety of fish for human consumption in the Western Province of Zambia. After his studies at SIPA, Raúl hopes to contribute to alleviating the double burden of malnutrition in Guatemala, as it is one of the countries in the world with highest under- and over-nutrition rates. Raúl is also an amateur musician, having performed in different venues in Guatemala with the band, Lamboratorium, and released four online records.
Leah Yudin, MPA’ 15, is concentrating in urban and social policy with a specialization in management at SIPA. Originally from southern New Jersey, Leah has lived in Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC before coming to New York. Leah worked primarily for nonprofit organizations prior to SIPA, where her work touched on U.S. foreign policy, environmental advocacy, and nuclear nonproliferation.
At SIPA, she serves as the USP Concentration departmental research assistant and the communication chair for the Gender Policy Working Group. Leah spent last summer interning in the Operations department of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she worked on the Graffiti Free NYC program. This experience confirmed her interest in working to solve urban problems, and she has continued her internship throughout this semester. She is hoping to work for the City of New York upon graduation, or for a related economic development or service provision organization in NYC.
We look forward to Raúl and Leah’s second year at SIPA!