Archive for diversity

Identity @ SIPA: Defining Who We Are

On October 25th, SIPA hosted a discussion on identity within the school. Seven fellow second-year students and I, all holding a multitude of salient identities, gathered around a table to discuss how identity plays an integral role in their experience at SIPA. Surrounded by an audience of our peers, we discussed the importance of diversity in higher education, how our identities have shifted since coming to SIPA, and the misconceptions people place on them because of their identities. The hour-long discussion ended with a Q&A session where students in the audience asked questions on the shaping of identity and shared stories of how their identities have interacted and interplayed as students at SIPA.

L-R: Katy Swartz, Karla Henriquez, Mike Drake, Maria Fernanda Avila Ruiz, Kier Joy, Maggie Wang, Lindsay Horne, Nitin Magima

One of the themes that revealed themselves over the discussion focused around many international students’ reconciliation with coming from racially/ethnically homogeneous spaces to the diversity that SIPA holds. One student discussed how in her home country in Latin America, she has always been seen as white but upon moving to America, she was seen as a person of color. Another student talked about how her citizenship identity became emphasized when she moved to SIPA. Even as a domestic student who hasn’t been in as diverse of spaces as SIPA, I can say I experienced a shift in identity where my Americanism has been emphasized as it contrasts with the dozens of different nationalities SIPA has to offer.

Students also discussed how community at SIPA has been one of their strongest support structures when facing the difficulties of grad school at SIPA. Many shared moments where they were able to lean on fellow SIPA students during hard times. This ultimately led to a discussion on the importance of allyship – for those with privilege to be able to listen, support, and advocate for those who are historically underserved and underrepresented. As the President of the Student of Color organization at our school, I’ve found that there are always non-person of color allies always willing to support our initiatives. The support system embedded within the student body at SIPA has been one of the most rewarding features of my grad school experience.

One of the coolest parts of the Identity @ SIPA event was the playlist that was created to play as students entered and left the discussion. Each student panelists contributed two songs that represented their identity. I chose “F.U.B.U.” by Solange and “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. You can hear the entire playlist here on Spotify.

Why I Chose to Apply to SIPA

Note from Admissions: The Spring application deadline is coming up, and we hope applicants feel like they’re making good progress with the admissions process. Current student Dylan Hoey has been in your position and reflects on why he applied to SIPA in the first place. 

We encourage you to reach out to us at the Admissions office if you have any questions about the application or just want to talk it over. And if you want to talk to Dylan or other SIPA students about their experience, we can make that happen.


Rodin’s “The Thinker” outside Philosophy Hall [Wikimedia Commons]

During undergrad, like most first year students, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. At first I was confident that environmental science was the right choice. Within a semester, I was disabused of that idea. After taking an amazing introduction to international relations course, I thought I had settled on international relations. When my second year started, I changed my mind once again and declared as a Government and History dual major, which finally stuck. While I had formally decided on a major, my interest in other subjects did not wane. Thanks to a great liberal arts education, I was able to dabble in almost every major subject, from religious studies to mathematics. Throughout my undergraduate career, I developed an interest in urban studies, post-colonial history and theory, continental philosophy, and film, amongst others.

In turn, when I decided to apply to graduate school, I knew I wanted to be at a place that engaged all of these interests, while also providing me with a central skill set that would allow me to be successful in any industry. I knew that my ideal school would be in a large city, with plenty of extracurricular opportunities to pursue my interest in the arts. Naturally, that narrowed my list of schools down quite considerably.

SIPA had always been on my radar just based off its name recognition, but when I researched more into its curriculum and Columbia’s own resources, I became more and more interested in applying. First of all, I appreciated that SIPA stresses both theory and ‘practical’ applications of course material. As a future U.S. diplomat, I valued SIPA’s diversity, which is unrivaled. I also liked that SIPA has a distinctly international focus, with an emphasis on urban politics and culture. When I looked through SIPA’s course offerings and faculty, I was similarly impressed by the broad array of fields and disciplines represented. I remember also coming across a couple ‘superstar’ professors, including former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. On more comprehensive faculty lists outside of SIPA, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, was also listed as a member of Columbia’s faculty. Another search led me to discover that leading Indian post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak was a resident faculty member.

When I looked at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ website, I found that the events section was full of film series that I was interested, including a few where the directors themselves were there to answer questions. At the Journalism School, I saw Jelani Cobb, one of the New Yorker’s most prolific and insightful contributors, listed as a professor. While I was certainly drawn in by SIPA’s course offerings, I really fell in love with the idea of Columbia being a place of such great academic diversity. I knew that at SIPA I would receive a world-class education in policy analysis and public management; I had no doubts about that. But I relished the idea of being on a campus where it would be easy to meet people engaged in other fields, and to pursue a truly holistic education. When it was time to finally apply, I was excited at the prospect of enrolling at SIPA, an excitement that has never left me, even as a second year student now.

Alumna shares thoughts at Diversity Symposium

 

Lybra S. Clemons, MPA '01, and Jessica Taylor, MPA '12 discuss diversity in the workplace during SIPA's Diversity Symposium.

Lybra S. Clemons, MPA ’01, and Jessica Taylor, MPA ’12 discuss diversity in the workplace during SIPA’s Diversity Symposium.

Last Friday, SIPA’s Office of Admissions hosted its 3rd Annual Diversity Symposium, Policies and Principles: Diversity in the Domestic and International Communities. This free symposium allowed prospective students to meet current students and faculty, and to discuss the importance of diverse communities at schools of public policy and international affairs, including at highly sought-after graduate programs like ours.

The symposium began with a fireside chat by Lybra S. Clemons, MPA ’01, the vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at Morgan Stanley, and Jessica Taylor, MPA ’12, the vice president at Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses. The speakers shared their thoughts on diversity levels at corporations and SIPA’s commitment to diversity. “At the end of the day, there’s a business case for diversity,” Clemons said. “If you don’t have diversity at the top of the house, it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to have it at the bottom.”

Ultimately, this Symposium shared with prospective students SIPA’s mission to develop world-class leaders who are committed to solving problems in our ever changing world; how SIPA’s increasing the enrollment of domestic, underrepresented students into our advanced degree programs; and how it’s Diversity Task Force is fostering a diversified student body at SIPA that will explore, expand and enhance opportunities to serve local and global communities.

Clemons went on to share why she applied to SIPA back in 1998. “I applied to seven different schools,” Clemons says. “As I started to dig deep, some of the schools that were on my list [weren’t what I exactly wanted].” After graduating from SIPA with an MPA, Clemons became the director of corporate relations at the American Cancer Society, the director of global diversity and inclusion at American Express, among other achievements.

“I was very, very glad to be here. I did not look back, and I was very pleased with the program,” Clemons added. “Everything that I’ve done since graduating from SIPA in 2001 has had some kind of connection  back to Columbia, SIPA…everything.”

Watch what Clemons had to say about the program here: LybraClemonsVideo-Symposium

Did you take your own photos and/or videos of the symposium? Feel free to share them on SIPA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles!

A Note About SIPA’s Diversity Initiative

While researching SIPA for your graduate studies, you’ve probably noticed that the school is one of the most internationally-diverse institutions at Columbia University. In fact, students in the MIA/MPA 2013 class represent 51 different countries, and speak 41 native languages. Overall, 52 percent of the class is represented by international students! Thus, we truly cherish our diversity and the many unique perspectives our students, faculty, staff and alumni bring to campus.

Reminding us all about the importance of inclusion, Dean Merit E. Janow released a statement about SIPA’s continued efforts to foster a community that is welcoming, respectful of individual and group differences, and representative of our society:

“A focus on diversity is important for all schools, but it is a particular priority for SIPA because the process of designing public policy should reflect consideration for diverse segments of societies,” Dean Janow said in a recent email.

Earlier this year Dean Janow formed a diversity task force to support SIPA’s efforts to build an even stronger culture of inclusiveness. This diversity task force holds regular meetings and student events, including an upcoming Diversity Symposium, on November 14, 2014. Read more about the Diversity Task Force’s efforts and upcoming events here: https://sipa.columbia.edu/experience-sipa/about-sipa/diversity-task-force.

SIPA Diversity Symposium this Friday

Diversity is true to our heart at SIPA.  In SIPA’s two-year programs, 59% are women and 41% are men.  Over 26% self-identified themselves as students of color and half are international students.  In all, SIPA has a diverse student population when viewed through the lens of international and women students.  We have stayed relatively consistent over the past few years in attracting domestic applicants who identified themselves as persons of color.   However, our goal is to continue to strengthen our diverse student profile.

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is hosting our 2nd Annual Diversity Symposium on December 13th (tomorrow).  Prospective graduate students are invited to attend to learn more about SIPA’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of International Affairs (MIA) degree programs.  This will also be an opportunity for participants to discuss issues of diversity and representation in highly sought-after graduate programs like ours.  The symposium will highlight SIPA’s mission to develop world class leaders who are committed to solving problems in a rapidly changing world.

Faculty, current SIPA students, SIPA alumni and prospective students will gather to discuss and expand on opportunities for new, innovative and dynamic leadership in international and domestic policies.

Seats are limited.  If you are interested in attending, please RSVP or contact the Admissions Office at 212-854.6216.

 

"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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