Archive for Meet Seeples

Join us for Summerfest 2017 in Boston, DC or NYC

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about graduate school, then now’s your chance. Join SIPA for a free evening reception and mini graduate-school fair this summer in Boston, Washington, D.C. or New York City. You’ll get to pick the brains of alumni, students, and staff from five top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs.

Representatives from the following graduate programs will be available to discuss their 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)
  • Princeton University – The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
  • Tufts University – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Just click on each event below to register.

Summerfest Boston June 2017
Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 05:30 PM until 08:00 PM
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
160 Packard Ave
Medford, MA 02155-5815
SIPA Rep: Grace Han, Executive Director of Admissions & Financial Aid

Summerfest NYC 2017
Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 05:30 PM until 08:00 PM
Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
International Affairs Building
420 W 118th St., Fl 15
New York, NY 10027-7235
SIPA Rep: It’s all hands on deck! Come and meet our entire office at this event!

Summerfest DC July 2017
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 05:30 PM until 08:00 PM
Georgetown Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001-2022
SIPA Rep: Kaitlyn Wells, Assistant Director of Admissions (yup, that’s me!)


Can’t attend? Then follow each event on Twitter at , , , and .

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Karl Hendler

This week I shared we’re gearing up for our annual introduction series featuring the incoming Fall 2017 class. To get us started, please welcome Karl Hendler from Richfield, Ohio. Karl was a philosophy major from the University of Southern California, and joined the US Marine Corps upon graduation. (Thank you for your service, Karl!) He’s joining SIPA to change gears and focus more on designing policy rather than executing it. 

Full Name: Karl Hendler
Age: 31
Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: International Security Policy
Hometown: Richfield, OH

Undergraduate University: Univ Southern California
Undergraduate Major: Philosophy
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2008

What’s your professional background?
Immediately upon graduating college, I was commissioned into the US Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. I spent my first year in training in Quantico, VA, first in The Basic School (infantry training for all newly commissioned Marine officers) and then at Basic Communications Officer Course. I spent the next eight years as a communications officer, a specialty in which I planned and supervised the installation and operation of voice, video, and data communications networks at various levels throughout the Marine Corps. In this time, I’ve lived in Okinawa, Japan, Camp Lejeune, NC, and another stint in Quantico. I’ve also deployed on the USS Essex, taking part in exercises and port visits throughout Asia (Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines). In 2013, I deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for a year as a future operations officer, taking part in the planning of the year’s operations. Lastly, in Quantico I am currently serving as a capabilities development officer, planning the implementation of future technologies throughout the Marine Corps. I will resign my commission at the end of June, with a final rank of Captain.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I see myself as changing careers into a related field. As a Marine I’ve served more of an instrument of foreign and public policy, and SIPA will give me the opportunity of transitioning into influencing the formulation of policy.

Karl Hendler and family standing under a tree in the park

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
My first reaction was a giant sigh of relief. SIPA was by far my first choice school, and I had no idea what to expect when I applied after being out of school for so long. Without any reference point as to how competitive I was as an applicant, I was extremely nervous during the entire application period.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
SIPA was my first choice for two main reasons. First, academically, SIPA appears to strike the right balance for me in terms of focus. Programs like those offered at the Harvard Kennedy School seemed very broad in addressing public policy; whereas others like the Security Studies Program at Georgetown seemed too narrow in focusing on security exclusively. SIPA, I think, takes the best parts of those schools and molds them together into a very well-rounded program. Secondly, I love the location, quite frankly. My wife and I have always wanted to live in New York.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward most to getting exposed to the wide range of diverse people and perspectives. I’ve thus far spent my entire (albeit relatively short) adult life in the Marine Corps, living and working among other Marines almost exclusively. I think I see the world through a lens provided by the military, and I am keen to gain a more comprehensive view of the world around me.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I graduated college in 2008, and with the exception of GRE prep and taking economics and statistics online to reinforce my transcript, I’ve been removed from academics for seemingly a lifetime. I’d like to think I’ll do well, but I won’t know for sure until we start in the fall.

What are your goals after SIPA?
Broadly, I want to continue serving my country, though this time around I’d like to have a say (however small) in forming national security policy, using my experience in the military to hopefully inform plans and ideas concerning military interventions. I’ll be looking at government agencies for those opportunities, but I also look forward to exploring private options as well.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
I’d like to tweak how leaders think about military interventions: often we see debates about intervening in a country with leaders speaking in terms of numbers of troops, bombs dropped, or missiles launched. Whenever a government considers any kind of military operation in another country, however, I’d like to consider those in the country being impacted and focus on potential long-term ramifications on how, as a society, they will view us and cooperate (or not) with us in the future.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I spent the first three days of my life without a name: My parents had planned to name me Peter Hendler III, but when I was born my mom thought I “didn’t look like a Peter.” My parents spent the next three days in vain attempting to decide upon another name, until my grandmother suggested the name of her brother, Karl.

Share your story by completing the New Student Self-Interview Form today!

[Photos courtesy of Karl Hendler | At Fredericksburg, VA, Oktoberfest, Sep 2016 | With Stacy and my son William at the DC Cherry Blossom Festival, Mar 2017]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Incoming students, join our New Students Series

Every summer, I introduce our readers to the incoming class of Seeples. We learn about the experiences that led them to SIPA, their ambitions for the future, and a few quirky details about their personalities. So today I’m excited to share that I’m now accepting submissions for this year’s questionnaire! If you’re an incoming Fall 2017 MIA/MPA/MPA-DP student and want to e-introduce yourself to the masses, make sure you submit the New Student Self-Interview Form.

I look forward to reviewing your submissions!

Working Seeples: Yasmina Dardari MIA ’17

In addition to taking 14 to 16 credits a semester and participating in student groups, some SIPA students also work part-time jobs or internships. Earlier this semester, SIPA News spoke with Yasmina Dardari MIA ’17 to discuss how she manages the demands of school, her social life, and her internship at Unbendable Media.

What did you do before coming to SIPA?

I worked in D.C. for a few years at public-interest communications firm that did work for nonprofits and governments. I decided to attend SIPA to dig deeper into my own interests in media and human rights and also explore some of the the policy issues my clients were working on.

I’m really into media, politics, public relations, strategic campaigning, and human rights. My specialization in Technology, Media, and Communications and my concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy allows me to combine all of these interests.

What do you do at Unbendable Media?

Unbendable Media is a team of communications practitioners that do campaign strategy and public relations work for organizations that aim to build a better, more progressive world. A former colleague started the company and and reached out to me to join his team. I do much of the same work I did with the firm in D.C.—providing campaign strategy and public relations works for organizations working for the public interest.

Having this particular part-time job has really informed my SIPA education. My clients work on the same policy problems that we work on at SIPA, so my work informs school and school informs my work. It’s like a two-way symbiotic relationship that makes me a better employee and student.

Why Unbendable Media?

I wanted to keep myself sharp in the field that I care about, so I started interning at the organization last summer. They liked my work and asked me to stay on as a part-time worker. I enjoy the work, so it was a no-brainer to accept the offer. It will allow me to work in media and politics, which is where my heart is.

How do you balance your school and work commitments?

It’s not easy. It’s give and take. Ideally I wouldn’t have to work while attending school, but financially I can’t afford not to.

I didn’t work my first semester, which allowed me to throw myself into my studies. I was able to go to lectures and fully dedicate myself to schoolwork. It became difficult after that because I was the co-president for the Middle East Dialogue Group and had an assistantship in addition to my part-time work at Unbendable Media. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on the full SIPA experience.

My schedule is exhausting but it’s taught me the value of self-care. I know now how important it is to keep my stamina up, so I’m smarter about taking breaks and making efforts to spend time on my hobbies and see friends. Also, my time management skills have improved so much because of this experience. I make sure I’m on track and hit my benchmarks. My life would be a lot less stressful [if I didn’t work outside SIPA], but you can make it work if you have structure.

This interview, conducted by Serina Bellamy MIA ’17, has been condensed and edited.

Post-SIPA plans and wisdom from an (almost) alumna

I’ll be graduating this month, so I figured I should wrap up my time at SIPA with a blog post about my post-SIPA plans and some lessons I’ve learned from SIPA and NYC in general. After graduation, I’ll be joining the US Foreign Service as an entry level economic officer, representing the United States abroad. My time at SIPA has definitely been challenging, but I’ve been able to meet some of the most amazing things and have access to the most incredible experiences. I don’t miss it all quite yet, but I’m sure I will very soon. Here are the top five takeaways from my SIPA experience.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
SIPA is hard and A LOT of work. If you’re a bit of a Type A person like I am (and you probably are if you follow the admissions blog), not getting my money’s worth out of SIPA was a serious point of anxiety. I wanted to make sure I did EVERY reading, took as many classes with as many different professors as I could, have an internship every semester, and be involved in as many student orgs as possible. After about a month of doing the absolute most (and essentially living in Lehman Library), I realized that I can’t maximize my experience if I’m missing the forest for the trees. It’s okay if you don’t do all the reading, or go to every event or happy hour. Sometimes it’s not physically possible to it all, and you’re better off picking what’s important to you and making the most of those experiences rather than trying to spread yourself so thin.

2. Challenge yourself to try new things
Many of us come into SIPA with a strong idea of our expertise and interests, which we, of course, planned to explore at SIPA. While it’s, of course, great to delve deeper into a strength, I would also recommend trying to work on your weaknesses as well as trying out some new things you’ve never considered. In my case, I came to school planning to study international conflict resolution and to become as close to an East Asia regional specialist as SIPA would allow, but while here I found myself gravitating toward the gender classes and focusing more on Southeast Asia—I region I knew very little about before coming here.  Taking those classes were definitely one of the best choices I made at SIPA because it allowed me to expand my horizons and my expertise.

3. Playing hard and having fun is just as important as good grades
This goes hand in hand with my first piece of advice. One of SIPA’s main selling points (for me at least) was its location in New York City and access to all the amazing things the city has to offer. Thus, if you’re constantly stressed about getting the “A+” in every class you’ll be missing out on not only great parts of your SIPA experience but the New York experience as well. Your SIPA classmates are some of the most accomplished and coolest people you’ll ever meet, so you should really take the time to get to know them outside of your macro problem-set group and Conceptual Foundations discussion section. Think of it this way, when you’ve finally graduated what will be more helpful in the long run: the A you got in quant, or the network you’ve made along the way? This is not to say that grades aren’t important (it goes without saying that they are) but again, don’t miss the big picture by focusing too hard on the details.

4. Use all the resources available to you, and ask for help when you need it
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and you should never be embarrassed to do so. SIPA’s a tough school, and we each have different areas of expertise. Not everyone is an econ or quant whiz and not everyone can write ‘A’ quality 25-page papers in 24 hours. The key is to know your strengths AND your weaknesses, and how to supplement your weak points. If econ or quant isn’t your thing, make sure you go to your favorite TA’s office hours, tutoring sessions and recitation (you can also go directly to the professor). If your writing is a bit weak, make sure you check out the writing lab and get your papers proofread far in advance so you can make the necessary changes. Being too proud to ask for help hurts no one but yourself.

5. You’re not an imposter
You’ve earned the right to be here! Whether you’re straight from undergrad, a career changer, an older student or somewhere in between, your experiences are no better or worse than any other student’s. That’s what’s so great about SIPA— we get to hear from a broad range of experiences from different countries and sectors. There’s no “perfect” Seeple, because we’re ALL the perfect Seeple.

"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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