Archive for new student survey

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Lan Hoang

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Lan Hoang, from Hanoi, Vietnam. Lan’s interest in international affairs began with a senior thesis project about Vietnamese refugees while studying at the University of Hong Kong. After graduation she spent some time with the United Nations in Bangkok, where she worked on migration-policy issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Lan’s background pairs nicely with her chosen concentration, Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy. Attending SIPA has been a lifelong ambition, as she grew up flipping through the pages of Columbia University publications. How’d she get access? Well, Lan’s father is actually a 1995 SIPA graduate. Despite her preparedness for the program, she said she was surprised to read her acceptance letter and jumped for joy upon reading the good news. Lan, we’re happy to have you here, too!

Full Name: Lan Hoang
Age: 24
Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy

Hometown: Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam
Undergraduate University: University Of Hong Kong
Undergraduate Major: International Politics and Sociology
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2015

What’s your professional background?
Graduated in the summer of 2015, my professional journey of two years revolve around social development and particularly migration policies. It all began with my senior year’s thesis on the welfare of Vietnamese and African asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. This led me to learn about the heart-wrenching stories of the suffering faced by the Vietnamese refugees, my fellow countrymen, since the end of the Vietnam War. This sparked my interests in the different types of cross-border movements. I then went on to conduct research on the empowerment of migrants and their families for a research institute in Kyrgyzstan, as well as gender equality in Vietnam. This was followed by a one-and-a-half year stint with various United Nations agencies in Bangkok, working on high-level dialogues on migration policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
Applying to SIPA, I hope to leverage my research skills and professional experience in migration policies. This is to address situations of vulnerable migrants in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly those of refugees, asylum-seekers, and female migrants. That said, I have also had a growing interest in the field of data science and technology. Furthermore, I realize the importance and benefits of being open to new experiences, so I am very excited to see how my professional interests evolve throughout the next 2 years!

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Disbelief! It was a very late Friday night in Bangkok when I anxiously opened my SIPA portal account. The wait was starting to wear me down and my tendency to be self-critical probably didn’t help either. Then the confetti shot across the laptop screen and I found myself jumping up and down with my partner. This feeling of joy and disbelief didn’t go away until a few days later.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
My dad attended Columbia SIPA and graduated in 1995. As cliche as it sounds, my dream of attending SIPA grew as I was flicking through the Columbia Alumni Magazines sent to him each year in high school. That was a vague and much more naive dream of my younger self. As the years passed and my professional goal took its current form, I realize SIPA is the perfect place for me to pursue a career in the policy field with an international outlook and the UN’s presence. Also, who doesn’t love being in NYC? And so these reasons are enough to me to pick SIPA over other similar top-ranked graduate schools in the US and Europe.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
The classmates from different corners of the globe. The exposure to a wide range of policy topics. The endless (but also very competitive) opportunities to pursue my professional goals.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Financial expenses while at SIPA and in NYC! Despite receiving a partial scholarship from SIPA, the tuition bills took away quite some joy from the initial thought of attending SIPA. That said, I know a SIPA education is a professional (and personal) investment. This is also the common concern among both incoming and current SIPA students and I love the we-are-in-this-together spirit that it creates as a result.

What are your goals after SIPA?
Post-SIPA, my grand professional vision is to join the bilateral and multilateral efforts to protect migrants at the International Organization for Migration – UN Migration Agency. I would be at the forefront of formulating policies for effective migration governance that adheres to international standards and fulfills migrants’ fundamental rights. I’m also mindful that this goal my change, but perhaps most importantly is to become more well-rounded and more attuned to the policy challenges throughout the international community.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
Perhaps just one small tweak in the way our brains are wired, so that we would have a much easier time picking up new languages. That way language barriers would no longer exist (while we are still able to preserve the cultural values carried through languages) and thus people around the world would be able to communicate with one another better. This thought certainly needs more fine-tuning, but it comes from my own frustration that emerged from the years gallivanting through the less English-speaking parts of the world.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
Apart from being a self-proclaimed photography enthusiast, movie buff and book lover, I’m very excited to be joining the Lindy Hop (swing dance) scene in NYC and living near Harlem – where the dance came from!

[Photo courtesy of Lan Hoang]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Poorvi Goel

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Poorvi Goel from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. Poorvi studied economics at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. She also earned a degree from the London School of Economics and she’s been working as an economist at the Planning Commission of India and the UNDP. She’s nervous about readjusting to life as a student, but looks forward to getting her “hands dirty” in the development process instead of just being an onlooker. Welcome Poorvi!

Full Name: Poorvi Goel
Age: 27
Degree Program: MPA in Development Practice

Hometown: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
Undergraduate University: St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
Undergraduate Major: Economics
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2011

What’s your professional background? After my undergrad, I did my post graduation in economics at London School of Economics. Since then, I have worked as an economist for about four years with the Planning Commission of India, United Nations Development Programme and the Commonwealth Secretariat. My most recent role involves policy research and advocacy for least developed countries and small states in the Commonwealth; specifically, building their trade capacity and working towards achieving their development goals through trade.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I applied to SIPA to branch out as an economist. I love the rigour and technicalities of my work but now I’m looking to gain a more multidisciplinary skill set. I’m actually hoping to get my hands dirty in the development process rather than being an observer to it.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Tears! The six months or so between preparing to apply and getting accepted are an emotional roller coaster, so it was probably an outpouring of relief, joy and excitement.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
I had a wonderful conversation with Glenn (Director of MDP) at Admitted Students Day in New York – I’m quite glad I made the trip from London to across the pond! After speaking with him and current students of the programme, I was confident that MDP offered exactly what I wanted from graduate school.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
Living in New York! That, and meeting some of the brightest and most motivated people from all over the world.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I suppose the thought of readjusting to student life is scariest for me. Though I do think once school starts, we’d jump straight into the deep end and there will be no time for apprehensions.

What are your goals after SIPA?
I want to transition to policy implementation and management roles in international organisations from the more research-based roles that I have gained experience in so far. However, I’m open to being challenged during the course of the programme and exploring new career options that I hadn’t considered before. That’s what being at university is about!

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
If I could (and I realise this is no small thing), I would eliminate all forms of inequality everywhere. This applies to inequalities of gender, race, access to opportunities etc. The world would be so much more fun if everyone had a chance to be the best version of themselves, rather than having to expend their energy fighting battles for basic rights that most of us take for granted.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I’m always up for picking my bags up and travelling – at the drop of a hat. I especially like to be in the outdoors (hiking/cycling), so if there are fellow Seeples that have itchy feet like mine, I would love to talk more about potential new adventures!

 

[Photos courtesy of Dian Dong | In Switzerland for Geneva Week (2015) at World Trade Organization; With a native tribe in Vanuatu]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Dian Dong

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Dian Dong from Hangzhou in Zhejiang, China. Dian studied sociology at the University of Maryland in the United States, and is currently working on education and student privacy issues. While working on US-China relations, she found her calling in international affairs and technology and hopes to strengthen those skillsets while at SIPA. Dian describes reading her SIPA admission letter as “one of the happiest moments in my life,” and she plans to make every second at SIPA count. 

Full Name: Dian Dong
Age: 23
Degree Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Economic and Political Development

Hometown: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Undergraduate University: University of Maryland, College Park
Undergraduate Major: Sociology
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2016

What’s your professional background? 
Upon graduation, I have been working on educational initiatives that address the improvement of student performance domestically and internationally as well as the protection of student privacy. I also worked on the 1 Million Strong initiative that strengthens US-China relations and improves mutual understanding through educational exchange programs.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in? 
My academic background is in social sciences, but I discovered my interest in international affairs through working. I hope to learn more about technology and entrepreneurship at SIPA and gain more experiences to work on international education projects.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
I held my breath and read the first sentence of the acceptance letter more than three times just to make sure I didn’t read it wrong, and then I experienced one of the happiest moments in my life.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
SIPA has the most global policy program – the diverse student body and rigorous academic programs make SIPA my number one choice.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward to learning from the world-class faculty and classmates. I’m also excited to field questions and objections from professors and fellow SIPA classmates – great ideas may be generated in the next two years!

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
A SIPA alumni once told me that it’s hard to find work-life balance in graduate school. Although I probably will never have enough time, I hope to make every second at SIPA worthwhile.

What are your goals after SIPA?
After SIPA, I want to be an expert in applying technology to expand educational access and to promote cultural exchanges and help people establish global awareness across countries.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
As a sociology major in college, I learn to always put oneself in other’s shoes. With a focus on humanism, I want to help people step out of their comfort zone, and foster mutual understanding through storytelling, social media campaigns, educational opportunities, and technology.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I love hiking, yoga, and playing the ukulele. Still working on being a minimalist.

[Photo courtesy of Dian Dong]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Sukirti Vinayak

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Sukirti Vinayak, from Delhi, India. He studied engineering at the University of Delhi in 2011, and is currently working pro bono for the Common People’s Party. He joined SIPA (instead of another policy school we won’t mention) to gain stronger quantitative skills. While he’s not sure which employment sector he wants to work in next, he looks forward to learning from SIPA’s world renowned faculty and all about governance innovations in NYC. Using a gambling analogy, he’s a self-described “Jack” and believes there are no winners when it comes to climate change.

Full Name: Sukirti Vinayak
Age: 28
Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: Economic and Political Development

Hometown: New Delhi, Delhi India
Undergraduate University: University of Delhi
Undergraduate Major: Engineering
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2011

What’s your professional background?
I have been working full time on a pro bono basis with the young, crowd funded Indian political unit, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or Common People’s Party, which was overwhelmingly elected to govern India’s national capital territory in 2015. I had the opportunity to design Delhi Government’s current strategies for combating air and river pollution. I also actively contributed to two election campaigns with my role ranging from developing the manifesto to managing polling booths to monitoring all campaign activities for the National Convenor of the party. I have previously worked with public, private and non-profit stakeholders including McKinsey (past employer), Safe Water Network (past employer), USAID, Indian Ministry of Mines, Energy and various urban local bodies. My focus almost all throughout has remained on policies, their implementation and the politics of all of this!

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I applied to SIPA to gain quantitative skills and learn from academicians and practitioners. I also wish to use this time to figure out which broad sector I’d like to go back to- private or non-profit or government, given my personal preferences (work routine, financial security, scope of impact, etc.).

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
I was quite ecstatic! Plus New Yoork! 🙂

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
Better financial aid in comparison to HKS made me choose SIPA. New York CIty is also a big reason why I said ‘yes’! My interactions with everyone at SIPA throughout the process have been very warm, which I think has also subtly played a part 🙂

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
As a Delhite and with some understanding of urban issues, I look forward to stumbling upon governance innovations in NYC. I also look forward to understanding how the academic circle copes with fake news, baseless rhetoric and democratic backsliding. Its a hot trend in my country too!

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Yes indeed! I haven’t studied Maths after 2008 and I have never studied Economics!

What are your goals after SIPA?
When I was making up my mind to quit McKinsey, in 2014, and become a public servant (of some sort) I met people from diverse backgrounds- policy think thanks, bureaucracy, non profits, and I realized that there aren’t a lot of people who honestly have mid/long term clarity. And that people who are at peace with this are leading more satisfying professional lives. I belong to this category of people now. I greatly look forward to 2 years at SIPA and the only part of my goal I am sure of, as of now, is that I will continue to work for changing people’s lives. What agent and what channel are details that I will figure out! 🙂

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
Make them understand that climate change is real and everyone is going to be a loser sooner than later. There aren’t going to be any winners with this one.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I believe in experiencing and pursuing diverse activities. Aspirationally, I lean more towards being a Jack than being an Ace. I was an amateur bassist, photographer and actor. Now I look forward to getting back to them artistic realms! 😀

[Photos courtesy of Sukirti Vinayak | Seen here with Arvind Kejriwal, who is sort of like the Indian version of Bernie Sanders. We’ve both lost weight since that day!]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Katy Swartz

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, wave your virtual hand at Katy Swartz. Katy is a Texan (ditto!) who moved to the frigid north in Massachusetts to attend Smith College. She has a degree in Jewish Studies, and taught English in Bulgaria for a year. Today, she lives in Brooklyn and works for the NYC Department of Education as a data specialist. Overall, she’s lived in five U.S. states and three different countries. I’m sure her experience abroad will serve her well in a future career as a Foreign Service Officer. Hook ’em, Katy!

Full Name: Katy Swartz
Age: 26
Degree Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Economic and Political Development
Hometown: Colleyville, Texas, United States

Undergraduate University: Smith College
Undergraduate Major: Jewish Studies
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2013

What’s your professional background?
My professional background thus far has been in education and operations. I lived in Bulgaria for a year after graduating from Smith College, where I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the capital city, Sofia. After this experience, I moved to Brooklyn, NY where I have been working at a NYC Dept of Education high school for 3 years. I am currently the School Business Manager and Data Specialist, which translates to the director of operations. I oversee all operational aspects of the school including budget, purchasing, student and teacher scheduling, technology, data collection, and compliance.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I think it is a little bit of both. I realized while living in Bulgaria that I wanted to go into the field of international affairs, but I could not imagine what exact position or job duties most excited me. Over the last two years in my current role, I have been able to realize that my true talents lie in operations and management. Therefore, while I will be changing from the field of education to international affairs, I hope to remain in positions that allow for similar roles as my current job. I am excited that SIPA offers many management courses which will give me the academic background I need to continue in this career path.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
For the two weeks leading up to learning I was accepted, I stalked the SIPA blog and application portal daily. The morning I found out was a Friday, and I had concluded (earlier that morning) that decisions would not come out until the following week, based on the timeline the previous year. I was sitting at my desk at work when I suddenly saw the email from SIPA saying my decision was ready to be viewed. Thank goodness I had saved all my passwords in the application portal already, because I was too nervous to remember anything that was happening. I screamed quite audibly when I saw the confetti coming down the screen and definitely scared my office-mate!

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
I was either incredibly bold or incredibly naïve in applying to graduate school, as I chose to only apply to SIPA. SIPA was the only school that had such a robust institute dedicated to the study of Eastern Europe (and specifically allowed for study of the Balkans), as well as rigorous coursework alongside practical hands-on experience through the Capstone workshop & internship opportunities. Therefore, my decision to attend was natural upon finding out I was accepted!

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I am most excited to gain an academic background in what has been a personal interest for so long. While I have done much independent learning and reading, I can’t wait to gain a deeper understanding in political development within the field of international affairs. Specifically, I can’t wait to student more about my regions of interest– East Central Europe and Russia/Former Soviet States.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Of course! Any change comes with many apprehensions, but my excitement far outweighs them. I am most nervous about being back in school and keeping up with the rigorous coursework. I am also worried about balancing the life I’ve established already here in New York with my new life at SIPA.

What are your goals after SIPA?
After SIPA, I hope to join the US Department of State and work as a Foreign Service Officer in the Management Track.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
It’s hard to name just one! I think it would be nice if more people were willing to take a break from their various mobile devices and spend some time just talking to others the old-fashioned way. I think that so much of the way we interact with others stems from our constant distractions, as well as the fact that we can now structure so much of our lives in a way that prevents interacting with those who are different than us. Perhaps if more people took the time to talk to those outside their immediate communities, we would see less of the xenophobia emerging across the world.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I’ve lived in 5 US States, 3 different countries, and, by my last count, a total of 17 different apartments/homes (not including many dorm moves during college!). Perhaps my desire to join the Foreign Service stems from the many moves I’ve made in my life.

[Photos courtesy of Katy Swartz | In the hallways of the school where I work, Brooklyn, NY, May 2017]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

"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

Boiler Image
×

The Spring/Fall 2018 MIA, MPA, MPA-DP application period is now live! Apply Today.