Author Archive for Emily Tao

Celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Columbia Startup Lab

If you are interested in social entrepreneurship, you will find plenty of resources to research in this post.

Last month the SIPA community helped celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Columbia Startup Lab. A co-working space located in New York’s Soho neighborhood, the Lab has more than 40 startups from all over Columbia campus and is the result of a partnership between multiple Columbia schools — including SIPA.

To celebrate this space that provides Columbia alumni entrepreneurs to work full-time on their ventures, SIPA Dean Merit Janow, Professor Sarah Holloway, and several SIPA alum were in attendance.

Pictured above is Professor Sarah Holloway, who teaches Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Financial Management at SIPA and runs the Management Specialization – a set of courses and activities that support knowledge and skill building in non-profit, for-profit and social enterprise management. (She also holds an MPA from SIPA!)

Manal Kahi MPA ’15 is pictured next to Professor Holloway. She is a Startup Lab alum with Eat Offbeat, a startup that delivers authentic ethnic meals prepared and delivered by refugees resettled in NYC. To find out more about Manal and Eat Offbeat, you can check out her interview on the Sincerely, Hueman podcast. (Incidentally, the podcast was created and is hosted by Camille Laurente MIA ’16.)

Pictured below is Shanna Crumley MIA ’18 (she’s been profiled on our blog before here), who co-founded Bitae Technologies with Gemma Torras Vives MPA ’18. They combined data protection, strategic management and refugee policy to create blockchain-based credentials for refugees and migrants.

Congratulations to Columbia Startup Labs and everyone involved! You can keep up with more news like this on SIPA’s LinkedIn. For those of you interested in social entrepreneurship, I hope this is a good starting point for you to figure out what resources are available to you and what other connections you can make through Columbia to support your venture.

Pride Month at Columbia University, at SIPA, and in NYC

Pride Month is still going strong as we head into mid-June, and New York City has a strong connection to Pride. June was chosen for LGBTQ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots in June 1969, where black, brown and trans members of the LGBTQ community protested against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn. Today, the Stonewall Inn is a National Historic Landmark; back in 1969, it was the target of an anti-gay legal system and rampant homophobia.

Being a policy and international affairs graduate school in the center of New York, LGBTQ rights in law and policy is a course that Adjunct Professor Jessica Stern teaches here. She describes the course as “life-changing,” not just for LGBTQ students, but also for straight allies.

This is something that is a beautiful part of a large school of critical thinkers (and do-ers) in the diverse and dense city of New York: you have every opportunity to learn about the intersection of LGBTQ rights, race, policy, and law – as well as the history of the LGBTQ movement.

That being said, I am writing this post from my own perspective as a straight person and generally average New Yorker.* I used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, an extremely gay-friendly neighborhood. I worked closely with many Broadway workers, and every single one had lost close friends and loved ones during the AIDS crisis. I’ve gotten out of the subway countless times at the Christopher St. stop, right in Greenwich Village where the Stonewall Inn is located. Even if you’re not in New York City, being on the internet exposes us to countless words and phrases that were invented and coined by the gay community, with users enthusiastically commenting “yas queen!” without knowing where it came from.

Being at SIPA will cause you to think about your place in the world, and what your work in policy and international affairs will mean for others. What does it mean to have inclusive policy? What work needs to be done to shift rhetoric and policies in my country? What do I need to learn to be more effective in creating sustainable change?

Pride Month is a celebration: of the LGBTQ community, of dignity and equality – and honestly, the marches and parties in NYC are really fun.

This month, I’m also thinking about what it means to be a straight ally. I was once told by a friend that he didn’t want an ally in this movement; he wanted an accomplice. He wanted someone to conspire with him, to protest with him, to actively change the status quo with him.

Professor Stern says that it’s essential to incorporate LGBTQ studies into curriculum. Perhaps this is something you’re intimately familiar with, and perhaps this is something that you’ve never thought about because of your environment and upbringing.

At Columbia SIPA, you have the opportunity to learn things, that you didn’t even know you didn’t know. Tomorrow we’ll share a post from a SIPA student about his perspective on Pride Month in New York City as a policy student. Until then, some resources:

*I ran a first draft of this blog post past a SIPA student who pointed out that I was missing the intersection of race within the LGBTQ movement. I include this as an anecdote of the SIPA community being a supportive environment in the collective quest to do better!

Join us for Summerfest 2019 in Boston, D.C. or NYC

Just as many of you are planning your next steps, we here at SIPA are making summer plans! SIPA representatives, along with other top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs, will be holding mini graduate-school fairs this summer in Boston, Washington D.C. and New York City.

If you’ve ever been curious about graduate school, this is your chance to get more information in person. Representatives from the following graduate programs will be available to discuss admissions requirements, the application process, financial aid, and more:

  • Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
  • Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Johns Hopkins University – The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
  • Tufts University – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Come learn from alumni and admissions staff at these free events. Click on any event below to register.

Summerfest Boston
June 19 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
160 Packard Ave.
Medford, MA 02155

Summerfest Washington, D.C. (June)
June 26 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Georgetown University Law Center
120 F Street NW
Gewirz Student Center, 12th Fl.
Washington, D.C. 20001

Summerfest New York City
July 17 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
International Affairs Building, Columbia University
420 West 118th Street, Room 1501
New York, NY 10027

Summerfest Washington, D.C. (July)
July 24 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Meeting current and future students, preparing for graduation, and a “Stealthy Starbucks”

While it’s slowing down a little bit for the Admissions and Financial Aid office, we’re still busy with everything happening on campus. Students and faculty are wrapping up finals, and the Class of 2019 is preparing for graduation — SIPA’s is this weekend, and the Columbia University-wide Commencement is next Wednesday.

You may have noticed that we’ve had a number of guest posts from SIPA students on the blog, talking about everything from student life to projects they worked on — we’ll keep this up so that you can continue to get a full student perspective.

A few updates:

  • I got the pleasure of meeting a group of Marist College students a few weeks ago, whose guidance counselor is herself a SIPA alum! Not all of the students were planning on applying immediately after graduation, but as I told them: If coming to SIPA is your goal, connect with us at Admissions sooner rather than later. It’s helpful to have time to learn and prepare for the application process instead of rushing last-minute while juggling everything else going on in your life.

  • A friendly reminder that the Yellow Ribbon Program is open for the 19/20 academic year. The application is available here under “The Yellow Ribbon Program.” For more information, please email sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.
  • SIPA alumni gave some advice for incoming students last year. I think it’s still relevant today in figuring out how to navigate any graduate school system.
  • And finally, a bit of light reading as we head into the end of the week: “At CIA Starbucks, even the baristas are covert”

If you’re a blog reader and are interested in a topic that we haven’t covered, feel free to email or submit an idea. Two recent posts were based on suggestions by readers like you.

APSIA, G4, and Connecting With Us

I’m preparing for a webinar right now with colleagues from several peer instutitions along the East Coast (The G4: Columbia SIPA, Georgetown MSFS, Tufts Fletcher, and Johns Hopkins SAIS), and I wanted to remind our blog readers about opportunities to connect with not just us at Columbia, but a variety of other great policy schools and graduate opportunities.

First, let’s explain the acronyms and names. The G4 (Group of 4 schools) are part of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). APSIA has many affiliated policy schools, but the G4 schools have been travling together to inform students about educational and career opportunities in international affairs for more than 40 years.

APSIA itself has a fantastic list of Fellowships & Scholarships, and their website lists a variety of global events where you can learn more about a graduate degree in international affairs. Last year Columbia SIPA attended APSIA events in Madrid, Paris, London, as well as a variety of places across the U.S.

It’s never too early to start thinking about entering a career tackling political, social, and economic challenges in the world. Even if you’re not planning on applying to graduate school this year, tap in APSIA and these other resources earlier. Reach out to us at SIPA, as well! Graduate school applications can be quite thorough and time-consuming to complete, especially if you’re applying to several schools at once, so it never hurts to prepare early.

As a quick update on what Columbia SIPA is up to, we have a few final webinars for admitted students coming up (check them out in the Welcome Portal!). The school year is winding down too, and SIPA students are barreling towards graduation in just a few weeks. Let us know what’s been on with you — I’m assuming it includes Beyonce and Game of Thrones, at the very least.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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