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A Few Recent Events

The following was composed by John Hughes, a second year MIA student studying Political and Economic Risk Analysis.


Life at SIPA can be busy between classes, job recruiting, hanging out with friends and trying to attend as many of the cool daily lectures, roundtables, speeches and events as possible.  Here’s a taste of a few of the recent events I’ve been able to attend:

In early October I attended a “Dean’s Breakfast” with Romita Shetty, an alumna who is currently a partner at an investment advisory and consulting firm focused on financial services and alternative energy.  Prior to her current position, Ms. Shetty spent a number of years on both Wall Street and working for a ratings agency.  Fifteen students and I met with Ms. Shetty and Dean Coatsworth on the 15th floor of SIPA for an intimate discussion about Ms. Shetty’s career path, her experience at SIPA, and how she got to where she is today.  Over bagels and coffee she gave us tips on how to enter the financial services industry, and answered our questions.  It was also a great opportunity to get to know Dean Coatsworth better, while sharing our SIPA and life experiences.

A few weeks later I passed in my last mid-term paper (after 3 exams that week) on Thursday, and was very ready to catch up with friends and blow off some steam.  Luckily, that night SIPA Student Affairs (SIPASA) hosted a Halloween party at M1-5 Lounge downtown (  There were over 1,000 students there, all dressed up in amazing costumes.  The party went from 10pm-4am, with an open bar for the first three hours.  Luckily, my class the next day was not until 2:30pm!  My wife and I went for the Lobster Dinner theme.

halloween 2_jwh

Recently I also attended  a “Taste of Asia: A Culinary adventure through East and Southeast Asia” hosted by the Asia Pacific Affairs Council.  The event featured all-you-can-eat food and drink from around Asia, while bringing together students interested in the region in an informal setting.  I happen to love food from both East and Southeast Asia, and I love to eat, so it was a great evening!

SIPA hosts an exhausting schedule of events, roundtables, discussions, debates and parties, offering a variety that will appeal to any type of student.  For a sense of some of the other offerings, check out this website (  In addition to SIPA events, Columbia University has a multitude of its own events, with each school within the university hosting a full line-up.  The most difficult part comes in deciding what to attend!

SIPA Pan-African Network

Students at SIPA certainly play a large role in directing policy discussion.  A great example of this is the SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN).  Each spring SPAN sponsors a forum and a brief description of the event this year is below.  For more information please visit the SPAN Web site as well as the African Economic Forum Web site.

From a modest beginning in 2004, the annual African Economic Forum (AEF) has grown to become the largest Africa-focused event at Columbia University. Originally conceived of and organized by the SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN), a graduate student organization, AEF is a two-day event featuring expert panels and keynote speakers. The students’ intent is to foster a public discussion on the core issues of African development by having experts of various, and sometimes opposing, perspectives openly debate the merits of different approaches and policies.

Speakers at the conference will include Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (World Bank, Managing Director – pictured to left ) William Kamkwamba (African Leadership Academy, student) and George Ayittey (Free Africa Foundation, President / Economist / Activist).

"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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