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Program Assistant Introduction: Dylan Hoey

Introducing our final new Program Assistant this semester, Dylan Hoey.

Dylan Hoey is a second-year MPA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in Technology, Media and Communications. In 2017, he graduated from Claremont McKenna College, where he earned a dual degree in Government and History. Prior to SIPA, Dylan worked for his Congresswoman and interned with refugee resettlement organizations in Chicago and Istanbul. He was recently awarded the U.S. State Department’s Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship, and after graduating will join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dylan ultimately decided to attend SIPA because he valued Columbia’s commitment to diversity and SIPA’s strengths as a leading school for international affairs and urban studies. While at SIPA, Dylan has primarily taken classes on good governance and urban leadership in the hopes that he can one day assist developing nations in the fight against corruption.

What do you hope to gain from earning a Master’s degree from SIPA?

As an undergrad, I attended a liberal arts college that pushed its students to become critical thinkers and strong writers. Naturally, I majored in Government and History, and like many of my peers, I shied away from heavy quantitative coursework. Coming into SIPA, I wanted to take more practical government classes, to supplement my background in political philosophy and theory. I also decided that I wanted to push myself by taking more rigorous economics and management courses. I hope to leave SIPA with a deeper understanding of international politics and institutions while also gaining proficiency in Stata, GIS, and other programs that are commonly used in the world of government and policy.

What are some exciting things about your concentration?

As an Urban and Social Policy concentrator, my favorite thing about our concentration is the diversity. Most of us come from urban backgrounds and we love cities, as places of professional and academic interest and as social environments. Although we are a relatively small concentration, the community is tight-knit and we all know each other. Due to SIPA’s location, we also attract some of the world’s leaders in urban leadership and development. I’ve had the opportunity to take classes with a former Mayor of Philadelphia, New York State’s Secretary of Housing, and other world-renowned economists and researchers in urban governance. If you want to run for office, or work for local or federal government, USP is a great concentration to choose!

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?

Admittedly, I was intimidated by Columbia’s core curriculum. There was even a time I considered not applying, as I didn’t think I had the quantitative background to be successful at SIPA. That being said, I have really enjoyed my core classes and I think they equip students with the skills needed to be competitive, and ultimately successful, in government and public sector work. While macro and microeconomics were certainly difficult at times, there are two tracks offered; a lower division course that is more conceptual and a higher division for those who are comfortable with math. In retrospect, I can say that they filled gaps in my previous knowledge of world politics and economics. My management course provided me with a better understanding of how bureaucracies function, and how workers respond to incentives; however, it also made me think critically about my leadership style, and my potential strengths and weaknesses. Out of all the core classes, my favorite has been Politics of Policymaking, which is required for all MPA students; it was undoubtedly the most in-depth class I had ever taken on comparative institutions and policy creation. I enjoyed it so much I ended up taking another course with the professor the following semester and have since remained in touch!

What advice do you have for current applicants?

I recommend that students reflect on what they want in their career, and really consider if SIPA, or graduate school in general, is the experience they need to accomplish their professional and personal goals. I like to think of an application like a narrative that has led the applicant to a fork in the road; the sum of their academic, professional and personal experiences has led them to this moment and now graduate school is the next natural step in the journey. If you can think of your desire to attend SIPA in these terms, then you will likely have a strong application. Most importantly, you must be honest with yourself about what is best for you, and your reasons for applying.

What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?

Definitely the personal essays. Essentially, you have to condense everything – your desire to attend SIPA, the essence of the most transformative moments or experiences in your life, and your professional career – into a few essay and short prompt responses. That being said, going off of my earlier advice, I would encourage all applicants to really think about their own life and experiences as if you were a character in your own story. Perhaps even create a list of the moments or experience you feel most nostalgic about, even if they seem irrelevant or trivial. In doing so, you may discover what really motivates you and how specific experiences made you the person you are. You can weave these into your essays, in a way that humanizes you and makes you standout to the people reading your application.

What do you think makes a good SIPA student?

In my opinion, the best students at SIPA are the ones who have a genuine desire to learn and are interested in solving complex problems with the help of others. They value collaboration, diversity, breadth of opinion, and are rigorous in their studies. They also seek out opportunities to form relationships with other communities, and most likely have a strong sense of what is right, which informs their commitment to making the world a better place. While they may not know what they want to do, they know they want to be leaders in whatever field they end up in, because of their work ethic and their commitment to something outside of themselves.  Sometimes class isn’t fun; it’s the middle of the semester, it’s cold, you’re studying for midterms. But if you’re a naturally curious and dedicated person, the prospect of learning more, of becoming a more well-rounded individual; these things will ultimately sustain you.

Seeples Spotlight: Qiuyuan Huang

Qiuyuan Huang is currently a second-year MPA student at SIPA. She graduated from Peking University in China in 2015 with a dual degree in Finance and International Relations. During college, Qiuyuan once interned with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a research assistant, where she did political risk analysis for overseas investment. She has also been the research assistant to Prof. Jong-Wha Lee, Former Chief Economist of Asian Development Bank, in the summer of 2014. She researched on the development of Renminbi Internationalization, China’s government public expenditure on human capital, and reviewed policy analysis of BRICS Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. After joining SIPA, Qiuyuan further developed her interest in macro-economic policy through courses and researches. During the summer, she interned with the S&P Global Ratings, one of the top rating agencies in the world.

[please note this Q&A has not been edited]

What’s your summer internship experience been like?
I have been interned with S&P Global Rating during the whole summer. I worked as summer associate in the global economics and research team. My primary job is to research on U.S. macroeconomics and wrote reports and interpretations on economic indicators for weekly publications and quarterly forecasting. I performed statistical computing and smoothing techniques to analyze and display economic and financial market trends.  Besides doing research and writing reports, I presented research findings to senior economist and chief economist at S&P. Being able to present to these economists is exciting but also stressful. Usually they would ask a lot of questions during my presentation, so I need to be fully prepared and clear about every point I am talking about.

How has the internship prepare you for the future career?
This internship is definitely a challenging one and I have learned a lot from it. I have covered various economic topics, including U.S. business cycles, infrastructure investment, minimum wage, income inequality, corporate repatriation tax, etc. My supervisor is a senior economist and he gave me instruction and advice on my research topic and methods. I have always been interested in macro-economic policy and political risk, and working in a rating agency is among my top career choices. This internship has given me hands-on experience in S&P and I really my time here. I am still interning with S&P for the fall semester, working two days a week. For now I am not sure whether I could get a full-time offer at S&P, but I am actively seeking for opportunities.

How did you obtain your internship?
This internship position is posted on the SIPAlink, and I  submitted my CV through the portal.  After that I took three rounds of intense interviews and was luck enough to pass them. I thinks SIPAlink is a good place for internship hunting. There positions posted are relevant and most of employers may have some corporation with Office of Career Office, so SIPA students could get some advantages applying through SIPA link.

What are your goals for the second year?
There are many books I plan to read. Most of them are about economics, political science and American culture. Also I would like to know more people here at SIPA. The first year went by so quickly and I felt I didn’t spend enough time getting to know more people. SIPA students came in from various backgrounds with exiting stories. So during the second year, I would like to attend more events and make more friends here. Besides, I decide to further develop my quantitative skills through classes.

What is one course that you particularly recommend?
One of the courses I would like to recommend is Asian Financial Market, This course focuses on financial crisis in Asian countries, mainly ASEAN-10, Japan, Korea, China, and India. It gave an overview of history, status quo and future prospects of the financial markets in Asia. We also analyzed economic and financial policies in Asia. I think this course would be really helpful to those interested in Asia financial market. You could have an better idea about what is going on now, and what to expect for the future after studying what happened in history.

[Photo courtesy of Quiyuan Huang]

Meet the SIPA community

There are many reasons people choose to apply and come to SIPA — one of the main reasons is the people who make up the SIPA community.  Students come here with a set of experiences and they leave here with another set of experiences; coupled with experiences they gain once they leave… Stir in some solid academics, resources and networks and you have the making of an influential global leader.

But it all starts with a visit to the Columbia campus in New York — throughout the year prospects meet with current SIPA students, speak with faculty and discuss opportunities with administrators.  Then they leave and find themselves crossing paths with alumni… in Paris, Jakarta, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Perth, and Nairobi.  And before you know it, you want to be a part of the family.  However, if you want to go stealth, it’s best not to mention SIPA (and definitely do not carry a SIPA bag) because you will find yourself in conversation with another fellow seeple, where ever you are in the world.

Admission decisions have gone out to many and the connections being made are in full bloom.  We have connected hundreds of newly admitted students with alumni around the world and soon they will be getting together in person to have a drink or a meal.  Just last week, we had the opportunity to meet some of our newly admitted students in San Francisco.  They attended a lecture on “Corruption in Latin America” presented by one of SIPA’s newest faculty, Professor Paul Lagunes  — alumni and staff were also in attendance — bringing the community together on the west coast.

We’re looking forward to meeting our newest students in New York next week at Admitted Students’ Day — many flying in from other continents.  The ‘meet and greets’ continue with other social and academic driven events around the world in the next few months until the students arrive to start their adventure at SIPA in August.

SIPA provides committed students with the necessary skills and perspectives to become responsible leaders. In 1954, students hailed from six countries outside the United States and graduates worked in 17 different nations. Today, nearly half of SIPA’s 1,200 students are from outside the United States and the School’s 18,000 alumni work in more than 155 nations around the globe.

The connections at SIPA are strong and expanding.

Seeple Snapshot: Denise Mitchell

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Name: Denise Mitchell
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Year Graduated Undergrad: 2011
Undergraduate Major: English


Before you came to SIPA, what were you doing?

Before I came to SIPA, I worked at a few nonprofits. The first one in D.C., and that was actually an education non-profit that worked with independent schools. And then I did some traveling, I took some classes. I came back to Brooklyn and ended up working with a non-profit in East New York which was really involved with community development and arts education. I have been pretty non-profit focused.

What are you studying at SIPA?

I’m studying urban and social policy as my concentration, and my specialization is management. We joke that it’s the liberal arts degree of SIPA and I definitely feel like I get a very well-rounded education through that.

What’s been your favorite part about SIPA so far?

It’s hard to choose. I think definitely the diversity of the students. I’m continuously in awe of my classmates. Everyone is from a different country, everyone speaks five languages, everyone has traveled and lived in places that you’ve only really seen on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Everyone is just really well-rounded. I’m continuously impressed by my peers.

Do you have a favorite class that you’ve taken?

I really liked Critical Issues in Urban Public Policy with [former New York City] Mayor David Dinkins. As a native New Yorker, it was a really amazing experience to see this man who, when I was growing up, was mayor and now he’s my professor and I see him every Tuesday. And he brings in a number of really dynamic speakers. It’s just great because it’s a lecture series in every class.

Where do you see yourself after SIPA?

I see myself everywhere after SIPA. I’d like to open my own non-profit, preferably before graduating in New York City. I’d like to spend a few years working abroad doing international development work. I’d like to come back to New York City and get involved in public policy. And that’s the great thing about SIPA. You feel like you can literally do anything after leaving here.


Seeple Snapshot: Wow! I get all of this and more?

Anthony Scott

Anthony Scott, MPA USP

I love Baltimore; let me know if you want to visit so I can give you an insider’s guide! I was born and raised around the westside of Baltimore, and believe the city has great potential and opportunity to demonstrate how to gentrify with minimal displacement of current residents. 

I survived my first few weeks at SIPA! People go back to school for a variety of reasons, and my starting in January is a bit “off cycle”, but regardless of the reasons, it’s always a transition. I’ve gone from working 8 hours a day (8 hours and 45 minutes to be exact) and being DONE with work, to always feeling like I should be studying. I’ve gone from waking up at 5 am to commute 1.5 hours to work, to waking up at 8 am, walking to school in 10 minutes, and realizing that my first class isn’t until 2:10PM. I’ve gone from having some leisure income, to having loans…again.

Regardless of the transition, the one thing I can say is that SIPA provides you with SO much support. During orientation, you have peer advisors who give you all the secrets from how best to register for classes, to where to find good pizza and cheap (but good) beer. Your deans and academic advisors are SUPER responsive, even about the most trivial matters. They really want to see you succeed, and ease your (over-achieving) anxieties and concerns. *smile* Oh, and your financial aid and career services people are also very helpful. Whatever your doubts about funding SIPA are, once you actually get here, there are TONS of scholarships, and opportunities internally and externally (everyone wants to hire SIPA students) to fund your education. I fully expect to have my tuition covered next year. The BEST resources, however, once you come to SIPA–and I mean THE BEST–will be your fellow classmates. I know it may sound trite, but SIPA isn’t kidding when they tell you to get to know your classmates because they will be future leaders. People at SIPA have already been leaders! Your classmates are coming from such diverse backgrounds, sectors, life experiences, countries…I mean, you name it. My first class was in Economic Development in Latin America, and the professor was bombarded by questions from engaged students who were actually from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, etc…there was also a Frenchman, who wanted to clarify a point about the French Revolution vis-a-vis post-colonial civil wars…needless to say, it was a fascinating discussion.

In my Brazil Seminar class, all I had to do was express interest in urban planning in Brazil, and another classmate spoke up, gave me her card, and told me she used to work for the city of Rio de Janeiro. Another student gave me books and articles to research, and yet other students said they were from the Columbia Architecture, Planning School and were going to Rio this summer to work with leaders in the favelas on inclusive development. I mean…REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Your classmates and faculty members are your assets, and they are the most down-to-earth, unassuming people you’d ever want to meet. They really make the SIPA community a collaborative, welcoming, and socially and intellectually stimulating community, and make it well-worth the transition!

Honestly, whatever your doubts about moving to New York, the cost of SIPA, the demanding coursework, etc., I promise you it’s worth it. SIPA is a very strong network, both in the U.S. and overseas, especially if you want to be a leader in international and public affairs. Take it from someone who is taking out loans: It’s worth it.

I can’t wait to welcome you to the SIPA family in the fall!


"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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