Archive for SIPA Students of Color

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.

Join SIPA Students of Color for their annual Career Summit

From SIPA Students of Color:

SIPA Students of Color would like to extend an invitation to those of you who may be interested in attending next weeks 2nd Annual SIPA Students of Color Career Summit entitled, “A New Generation of Economic Empowerment and Political Activism.” This half-day seeks to highlight the entrepreneurs, activists and organizations on the front line of the fight to empower and uplift marginalized communities at home and abroad.

Also in attendance at the event will be members from our student org partners including Women in Leadership, Gender Policy Working Group, Spectrum, Technology and Innovation Student Association and the Human Rights Working Group. Please have a look at the Eventbrite for an updated schedule, a list of participating organizations and employers and more general information.

If you are interested in attending for the whole half-day, just for the luncheon or just one panel specifically, that is totally fine. We just ask that you respond to this email here so we can make sure that you are registered on the Eventbrite, free of charge. This will help us better anticipate capacity issues throughout the day.


SIPA Life on a Friday

The following post was written by Andrea Bustard, a second year MIA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy. Her involvement in the Southeast Asia Student Initiative, SIPA Students of Color and the Migration Working Group has proven to be an enriching experience while at SIPA.


SIPA offers a wealth of avenues to prepare students with the needed skills for their careers after graduation. Courses range from Cost Benefit Analysis to Policy and Practices of Humanitarian Assistance, and this doesn’t include the classes offered through other schools such as Columbia Business School or Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia. And with over 40 student organizations, you’re bound to find at least one that matches an interest. As a second year, while I’ve felt the courses have taught me skills, having an opportunity to get involved in student groups has given me a chance to work with like-minded professionals and expand my network.

Few classes meet on Fridays, so students often take advantage of the time to attend SIPA related events. Here’s a snapshot of my Friday:

8am Arrive at the Localizing Global Justice conference in the International Affairs Building and greet incoming presenters and help with check-in for registered guests as a board member of the Southeast Asian Student Initiative.

10am-4pm Hear from panelists at the conference about law and human rights issues in Southeast Asia. Highlights included the presentation “Keeping it Up and Keeping it Down – Broadcasting Rights at Thai Protests” by Benjamin Tausig.

4pm-530pm Attend a reception for the panelists from the conference. I especially enjoyed a poetry and cello performance by Professor McCargo’s wife.

6pm-9pm Network at the Alumni of Color Reception hosted by SIPA Students of Color attended by graduate students and alumni from various schools. The highlight was hearing from SIPA alum and candidate for Congress in New York, Vince Morgan, but the food catered from a nearby Côte d’Ivoire restaurant was a close second.

11pm-2am Support SIPA Pan-Africa Network by going to their African Diplomatic Forum fundraiser party at the Empire State Building. On the way back, we stopped at a pizza place outside the subway station before catching a train home. It was a great way to end the event-filled night.

"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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