New Student Series Part 5: Vipul Nanda

Please say “hello” to Vipul Nanda, our next student in our new-student introduction series. Vipul is from New Delhi, India, and received his admissions letter at 5:00 a.m. He immediately contacted his parents and brother to give them the good news before falling back asleep. By the time he was ready for the workday, there was nothing you could do to remove the smile from his lips as he thought about the opportunities that awaited him at SIPA. Read the rest of his story below.

Full Name: Vipul Nanda
Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: International Security Policy
Specialization: International Conflict Resolution
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2017
Hometown: New Delhi, India

Undergraduate university, major and graduation year:
Delhi University, Business Economics (Honors), 2011

What’s your professional background?
I worked with the Development Advisory Services of Ernst & Young (EY), India for 3 years and 8 months. Our work focused primarily on the not-for-profit sector. During my tenure at EY, I worked on issues, such as aid effectiveness, human rights, governance across Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India. My work involved internal control reviews, monitoring and evaluation, documentation for clients including UNDP, UN Women, SIDA, GFATM, etcetera.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
It’s a combination of both; a change in career and to gain experience in my current career. In my professional career I haven’t worked on projects pertaining to international security. However, my professional experiences provided me with an understanding of the vulnerable socio-economic-cultural fabric of conflict-afflicted countries.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
I was sleeping when I received an email notification from Columbia at five in the morning!! It was with great anxiety I logged on to the website and saw the result. The first reaction was a deep sigh of relief – vindication of the hard work I had put in in the last few years. I informed my parents, who were in Sri Lanka for a vacation and my brother in USA, and went back to sleep. However, the entire day at the office, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling continuously.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
Location and curriculum!! The unparalleled exposure which NYC would provide and the comprehensive course list catering to my requirements were the two primary reasons I opted for SIPA.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I most look forward to taking courses from my specialization and concentration. These courses cover topics which have captivated me for the last so many years, and consequently, I have been desirous of studying them for the last 5-6 years.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
There is just a lot of excitement!! Being an international student, I am looking forward to the challenges involved in settling in a new city.

What are your goals after SIPA?
I want to work at an international non-profit organization working in field of conflict resolution.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
I want my community, country and the world to believe more in themselves and in their ability to achieve what they want.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
According to my friends, I resemble Chetan Bhagat (an Indian author).

If you’d like to participate in the series, please email us at sipa_new@columbia.edu to share your personal admissions story, what your summer vacation will entail/did entail, or anything else you think your peers would enjoy reading about! You may submit a blog post of your choosing, or submit the New Student Survey with pre-populated questions to get you started. And don’t forget to submit a photo or two to help us visualize your story! (And when your post is published, I’ll also tag you on social media if you include your profile URLs.)