New Student Series Part 6: Chun-Fai Chan

Please welcome Chun-Fai Chan to the Class of 2017. Chun-Fai Chan works in adult education teaching GED-level classes, and hopes to collaborate with various entities in workforce development after SIPA. He says that being admitted to SIPA “was the happiest moment of my life” (not counting his wedding, of course). 

Full Name: Chun-Fai Chan
Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: Urban & Social Policy
Specialization: Management
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2017
Hometown: Boston, MA

Undergraduate university, major and graduation year:
Northeastern University, B.S. Biology 2003

What’s your professional background?
Educator/Political Campaign Promoter

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
It is a little of both. My focus the past three years was in adult education teaching GED-level classes to students of diverse, academic backgrounds. I’m interested in gaining experience regarding the workforce development side of adult education in collaboration with non-profits, community organizations, and government entities.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
When I opened the letter online and saw the colorful streamers coming down, I could not believe it. All the hard work of refining my application and rewriting me essays made me feel truly blessed and grateful that it was accepted. Besides my wedding day, it was the happiest moment of my life (so far). 

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
I knew that SIPA would provide me with the resources, tools, and network to take my career to the next level. The fact that my wife would be working and living with me in New York City made my decision much easier. 

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward to learning and listening from the SIPA community that have a vast array of perspectives about the world. To have this engagement is something that can be fleeting if not cherished. 

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Not really. But I know that I have a lot of homework to prepare for the core classes in the fall. I do not intend to take the homework and the upcoming academic work lightly. 

What are your goals after SIPA?
I hope to play a significant role in a Workforce Development agency and serve as an intermediary who directs government resources and the training needs of private businesses to nonprofit organizations that can provide adult education and career-development services. 

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
Make sure that the opportunities and resources I receive will be paid forward to the next person or generation. 

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I did sing in an “A Capella” group when I was in high school. This, in turn, led me to moonlight as a MC/wedding singer for a few wedding receptions during the Great Recession.

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!

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