Archive for Fall2017 – Page 2

Payne International Development Fellowship Program is Now Welcoming Applications!

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2018 Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program at! The application deadline is January 19th, 2018.

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2018 Fellowship.

The Payne Fellowship is a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Program, administered by Howard University, which seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers as Foreign Service Officers in USAID. Candidates must be graduating seniors or college graduates with strong academic records and a desire to promote positive change in the world. The program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women and those with financial need.  Applicants with any undergraduate major are welcome to apply. Selected fellows will receive support for graduate school and will have a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

Program Benefits

  • An orientation to the Program and the Foreign Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in late spring 2018
  • Two summer internships, one on Capitol Hill in summer 2018 and one overseas at a USAID Mission in summer 2019.
  • Up to $22,000 annually toward tuition, fees and living expenses for a two-year master’s degree in fields related to the Foreign Service such as development, economics, public administration, public policy, business administration agriculture, environmental sciences, or urban planning at a U.S.-based institution.
  • Mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer throughout the duration of the fellowship.
  • Employment in USAID Foreign Service for those who successfully complete the program and meet Foreign Service entry requirements, in accordance with applicable law and USAID policy, with each Payne Fellow committing to a minimum of three years of service.

Eligibility requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Seeking admission to graduate school in fall 2018 for a two-year program in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service at a U.S.-based institution
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

About USAID Foreign Service

USAID Foreign Service Officers work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times, including poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism. They are part of a corps of officers who have worked for more than fifty years to make lasting improvements to the lives of millions of people around the globe. USAID Foreign Service Officers are stationed in Washington and in more than 75 countries in five regions worldwide – Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, Asia, and the Middle East. They work alongside colleagues from other U.S. government agencies to achieve our country’s foreign policy objectives in democracy and governance, economic growth and trade, peace and security, education and health, conflict mitigation and humanitarian response.

Program Contact:, 202-806-5952

A View From the Class: Alana Plaus

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series, featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty.
Alana PlausIn the September issue, we featured current SIPA student, Alana Plaus MPA ’18. Alana is a SIPA Fund Fellow and a second-year student pursuing her Master of Public Administration, concentrating in Urban and Social Policy (USP) and specializing in Gender and Public Policy (GPPS). Here, Alana discusses why she chose her particular areas of study, her internship and capstone experiences, and the importance of her fellowship.


Why did you choose to concentrate in Urban and Social Policy and specialize in Gender and Public Policy?
I selected USP and GPPS because I am interested in the societal power dynamics and limitations that exist for people of color, women, those who identify as LGBTQ, etc. Within my Social Policy courses, I am able to see how this marginalization translates into problems within social welfare, education policies, housing access, infrastructure, healthcare, etc. I ultimately hope to enter state level politics (perhaps even national someday!) in my home state of Colorado, where many of these issues are particularly relevant with a rapidly increasing urban population. Because of this, I feel as though my USP and GPPS courses have created a solid foundation from which I can jump into my professional path.


 What are some highlights from your first year at SIPA?
I have greatly enjoyed my SIPA experience thus far. I am constantly amazed by the expertise and approachability of my professors. They all have an incredible humility when it comes to meeting with, and mentoring students. They are experts in their fields, have accomplished incredible achievements throughout their careers, are decorated scholars, and yet they are willing to drop everything to meet with a student.  I have been blown away by each and every professor I have had. Beyond my academic experiences, I have also had rewarding internship experiences. This past summer, I pursued two internships simultaneously. To gain a deeper understanding of legislative processes in Colorado, I worked for a national advocacy organization that focuses on policy and legislation related to workplace equity and economic sustainability for women, especially women of color. To gain on-the-ground experience and learn more of the existing public services outside of the capital, I also interned with one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the country.  This was a fascinating experience not only because of the people I was able to meet, but it was also a chance for me to see the trickle-down effect of federal policies on direct-service NGOs.


Tell us about your internship or capstone plans for your second year?
In the coming year, I will be interning with two political campaigns: a City Council candidate in NYC, and for a candidate running for Governor in Colorado. I am excited to take what I have learned about governance and policymaking, and see how it relates to the political process. I will also be working on my capstone this upcoming fall with The Brookings Institution. The capstone project will analyze the mechanics, processes, metrics, and outcomes of girls’ life skills programs that aim to encourage girls in the developing world to pursue higher levels of education.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?
 The fellowship I received due to the generosity of SIPA donors has allowed me to attend this fantastic institution and to pursue a career to serve others. Fellowships are so important because for many like me, the idea of living in a city like New York and attending a private institution like Columbia, would have been an impossibility otherwise. SIPA is known for its international diversity, but because of fellowships, socioeconomic diversity can also enhance class discussions. This better prepares students to understand the role that public service can play in the lives of many.

Seeples Spotlight: Nick Calbos

And finally, our fourth new PA for this semester is Nick Calbos. He is studying Energy and Environment/International Security Policy. After commissioning as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army, Nick was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, leading soldiers in a variety of challenging assignments on the Korean Peninsula. From 2012-2013 he was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat advisor to an Afghan National Army infantry battalion in Kandahar province. Following his service in the military, Nick participated in a specialized internship at Goldman Sachs, working primarily in sales and trading. He earned his undergraduate degree at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 2009.

What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?
I first visited Columbia while I was completing my undergraduate degree at West Point. The vibrant academic community in the heart of New York City was a stark change from the cloistered military environment in the Hudson River Valley. I always had in the back of my mind that I might one day be lucky enough to attend Columbia for graduate school. Fast forward several years, and I was completing an internship in New York, a few months from leaving the Army. I came back to the campus for a visit and was not only struck with the same feeling I had years prior, but discovered the uniquely international student body at SIPA. As a “third culture kid” I knew that it was the right fit for me.

What experiences do you think prepared you to attend SIPA?
The academic rigor of SIPA is not to be taken lightly. Certainly the rigors of my undergraduate and the Army helped prepare me for SIPA. Additionally, growing up overseas and attending international schools gave me the right perspective to appreciate the varied backgrounds of the student body which makes our school so special.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?
I remember a specific day my first year at SIPA in which I started the day by listening to a world renowned economist lecture, followed by a lively academic debate on the future of the energy industry in one of my smaller seminar classes, and then ended the day telling the best stories from summers around the world with some of my SIPA classmates. I remember walking home along Morningside Park, looking out across one of the greatest cities in the world, and feeling like my time at SIPA was set to be an amazing experience.

Can you comment on the quantitative rigor in the curriculum?

I attended a school for my undergrad that was traditionally an engineering school. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of quantitatively heavy courses involved. SIPA is as much, or more quantitatively focused. To be honest, it is not enjoyable if you are not quantitatively inclined. However I feel as though it is necessary to give SIPA graduates the reputation for technical skill that is so desirable in the work force.

What’s your internship experience been like?
I interned this summer at Moody’s Investors Service here in New York. It was exhilarating to be at the cross roads of International Affairs and Finance, and to see the workings of a critical piece of the global capital markets.

How did you obtain your internship?
I went through the traditional channels at the SIPA Office of Career Services. I have found that if utilized effectively, OCS is a fantastic resource, with dedicated professionals who are committed to finding you employment and furthering the SIPA reputation in the work force. I think it also helped that Moody’s is FILLED with SIPA graduates, further affirmation of the quality and desirability of SIPA grads.

Photo Courtesy of Nick Calbos

Seeples Spotlight: Erin Lue-Hing

Today, please welcome Erin Lue-Hing. She is a 2nd-year MPA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in the US Region. Her background comprises law, health policy, social policy, advocacy for under-served communities and government administration.  Prior to SIPA, Erin worked as a Data Analyst and Project Manager for the New Jersey Homeless Management Information System under the Department of Community Affairs. She graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Policy and a minor in Legal Studies as a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. She was elected and served as the Future Leader for the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board, Northeast USA from 2014-2017, and was the 2017 recipient of the Jamaica Governor-General Award for Achievement. 


What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?

After working in state government for several years, I became fascinated with the role of leaders and decision-makers at the state and local level, and wanted to learn more about what went into the decision-making process for policy-making. I wanted to understand how leaders were able to help communities, what best practices were, and how to economically develop urban and other communities. Having also served as a leader in the Jamaican-American community, I felt that incorporating an international perspective into my leadership was crucial within an ever-globalizing world. SIPA was a natural fit for me and has given me invaluable exposure on how to be a leader in a domestic and global context.


What experiences do you think prepared you to attend SIPA?

Being in the policy world prior to SIPA and seeing how things actually happen behind-the-scenes was extremely useful for understanding all of my SIPA courses thus far. Having to multi-task as a leader also helped me to manage SIPA’s rigorous courseload.


What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?

The best part of my SIPA experience has been the friends that I have made and the connections to leaders in the local and international community. Meeting former UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon was incredible! Going to a school that is situated in one of the greatest cities in the world has opened up so many opportunities and allowed me the chance to enrich a very lively community.


What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?

 Getting used to student life once again after working for several years. SIPA also comprises a lot of group work in addition to lectures, so I had to plan my time very carefully to ensure success.


What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate?

 I hope to work in both local and eventually federal government leadership to effect change in our neediest communities through sound policy- and decision-making. Having competent leadership can make a huge difference for so many citizens.


Seeples Spotlight: Mark Jamias

Next, please welcome Mark Jamias! He is studying Economic and Political Development with a specialization in International Conflict Resolution (ICR). As a five-year student between Columbia College and SIPA, Mark will be graduating in May 2018. Before SIPA, Mark worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly. Prior to that, he also worked for a major U.S. airline, and most recently gained experience in the maritime shipping industry.

What were you doing before you came to SIPA?

Before SIPA, I was an undergraduate at Columbia College, majoring in Political Science. During my junior and senior years, I was working at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations for the duration of the annual sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. I briefly interned with NYC Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, and I spent my summers working for a major U.S. airline at JFK International Airport.


What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?

The Five-Year program was one of my primary motivations when I applied to Columbia. The scope of schools to which I was applying was fairly small, and one of my high school teachers encouraged me to apply to Columbia. I read about this opportunity for undergraduates to pursue graduate study during their four years, finishing their Master’s degree after five years. Furthermore, I knew New York would be brimming full of opportunities, whether cultural, professional, or just pure fun, all of which would teach me a lot about how the world works. Like many current Columbia students, however, I didn’t think I would get in; by chance and luck, I arrived on campus in August 2013.


How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?

Love Core! The Core Curriculum is a quintessential part of the Columbia experience. This school invented Core. Every school within the university has some derivative of the Core. These aren’t gen-ed classes that you choose off a list to fulfill a requisite. The Core classes are specific classes almost everyone in a program takes. You know that every Master of International Affairs student watched the lively debates of a Conceptual Foundations lecture, and every Master of Public Administration sat through Politics of Policymaking. I was by no means an advocate of the Core when I came to Columbia; I didn’t even know I had a set of courses I had to take. After four, going on five, years of this place, I’ve come to appreciate the Core, a fundamental and time-honored academic tradition that links each and every SIPA student.


Do you feel like you have gotten to know some of the faculty members?

For sure! In fact, I used to run into many faculty members while working at the UN! I’d catch Professor Jean Krasno sitting in a lobby or coffee shop chatting about the prospects of a female Secretary-General. My former colleague from the U.S. Mission, Walter Miller, was recently here leading SIPA students on their Capstone Projects on Peacebuilding in the Middle East. I’ve also had the pleasure of learning from Prof. Edward Luck and Richard Gowan, both of who are esteemed practitioners in the field of Conflict Resolution and Mediation. I’ll be reading an article and their names would suddenly pop-up, likely speaking from their offices right upstairs in IAB.


SIPA features lots of events for students to attend. Is there any interesting presentation that you have attended that you could comment upon?

The World Leaders Forum is an amazing opportunity to hear and learn from international heads of state in town for the annual UN General Assembly. I make it a point to attend at least one speech in each year’s series.


Have you taken classes at other Columbia Schools?

Something I highly encourage students to do is to take courses outside SIPA. While SIPA has tremendous resources, taking advantage of the Columbia University community at-large ensures getting the most out of one’s two years on-campus. My first class at SIPA was a joint SIPA-Columbia Law School class. Taking classes outside of SIPA allows students to gain new insights and perspectives from peers with different understandings, priorities, and concerns; our shared challenge is to find the best common solution.


What advice do you have for current applicants?

When writing your application materials, tell us a story. We know what you did, where you worked, and what you studied; tell us why you did the amazing things you accomplished. What drove you? What did you learn? Where did you fail? Don’t leave out the good and the bad bits. Last, tell us how you’re going to use your future SIPA education. What do you hope to do? What do you hope to not do? Will you use your newfound superpowers for good or for evil? Each and every person at SIPA has a story; share yours with us.

"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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