Archive for SSOC

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.

Another side of an Ivy League institution

On Friday December 13th, SIPA Admissions Office, in collaboration with SIPA Students of Color, hosted the Second Annual Diversity Symposium. The symposium, “Public Policy: A Global Perspective” attracted prospective applicants from the tri-state area to learn about SIPA’s MIA/ MPA programs and the admissions process.

IMG_0027The Diversity Symposium was created in order to increase domestic student of color applicants at SIPA. Much like every school, said Executive Director of Admissions Grace Han, SIPA has a  “vested interest to recruit, retain and graduate student bodies that come from diverse backgrounds.” By recruiting throughout the NYC metropolitan area, SIPA Admissions was able to attract students from diverse ethnicities, socioeconomic status and experiences. Students who attended the symposium received information about the admissions process, a “how-to” presentation on funding graduate school and became more knowledgeable about SIPA and its community.  Michael Bustamante, who is applying to the MIA program, said, “ [The Symposium] showed a side to an Ivy League institution that I honestly thought didn’t exist-the genuine drive to diversify their student body.” Throughout the day, participants engaged in conversations with current students, administrators, faculty and alumni.

IMG_0062The alumni panel included 6 distinguished professionals who have made strides in their fields. When the alumni were asked what value SIPA added to their career choice, all the alumni spoke highly of the program including the ability to balance their education while exploring career options. SIPA alumnus Dr. Ann Morning, ‘92,  who is now a Professor of Sociology at NYU, talked about her experience as a Statistics T.A. and the community that SIPA cultivated through their TAship program. It was difficult, she said, but SIPA prepared students towards modern professions all while creating ‘heroes” through the degree program.

 IMG_0086Prospective applicants were also engaged in policy discussions on issues ranging from energy “fracking” to health care access. Students were split into teams and asked to discuss possible solutions to prominent problems – all of which have challenging political and social implications. Michael Bustamante describe the round-tables discussions: great, relevant and engaging.  All discussions were led by current second year SIPA students who have sought to answer some of these pressing questions themselves through their SIPA education.

For the prospective students who attended, this is only the beginning of a process that will hopefully result in a successful application to SIPA… and a step closer to making a difference in the global community. For everyone else who missed out – please keep an eye out for future events.

Good luck with those applications!

whether you’re interested in energy or in applying to SIPA, there’s an event for you…

If you haven’t been keeping up with the various SIPA events happening on campus, next week we are hosting two interesting events in New York that prospective students may want to attend so MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

On Monday, November 12 at 1:00pm, the Leaders in Global Energy Lecture Series will present:  “What’s New on Alternative Energy?” with Guillaume Aubert, Partner and Managing Director at Boston Consulting Group.  The presentation will be moderated by Manuel Pinho.   Please register online if you are interested in attending.

Another great event to learn more about SIPA is to attend the Admissions Diversity Symposium on Friday, November 16th from 10am to 2pm.

The Office of Admissions and SIPA Students of Color group will co-host an admissions symposium. SIPA Faculty, students and alumni will highlight unique contributions of students of color to global public policy and discuss potential opportunities for future graduates.   The program will also feature a discussion of admissions and financial aid for those who wish to consider graduate study at SIPA.

Please register for this event by completing the registration form at the bottom of the event link.  Seats are limited.


On Tuesday, April 10th we are hosting our Admitted Students Day (gentle reminder to register, if you have not already done so).  If you are coming into town a day early (and before the SSOC Social at Havana Central) and have time to explore the city; two of our students captured their NYC adventure for less than $25…

By Twisha Mehta and Molly Powers

When students list their reasons for wanting to go to SIPA, there’s one that reliably makes it into the top 5 list: living in New York City. The city that never sleeps, the concrete jungle that dreams are made of, home to the UN, to Wall Street, to the Statue of Liberty. There is an infectious energy in New York, and an excitement in knowing that the world is at your fingertips. Some students complain that it’s also one of the most expensive cities to live in. It’s true that dinner and a movie can easily cost more than $50 these days, but, as in any city, there are bargains to be found and plenty of adventure to be had on a student budget. To prove a point, a group of SIPA students headed out one weekend last fall to see how far $25.00 dollars could take us in the Big Apple.

We took the 1 subway from the Columbia University 116th Street station to 14th Street. Our first stop: Chelsea Market to have a cup of coffee and gape at all the expensive baked goods and sundries that our budget would not allow.  Then onto the High Line – a recently constructed urban public space in the meatpacking district. The High Line is an historic elevated railroad that has been repurposed into a pedestrian park decorated with public art and native species of plants and grasses. New York neighborhoods each have their own distinct flavor, and Chelsea is no different. The Highline juxtaposes industrial space with modern architectural elements. The elevated space not only gives a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood, but it also provides stunning views of the Empire State building and the Hudson River away from the bustle from the street below.

After strolling along the High Line, we headed uptown through Times Square, to the Bryant Park Winter Marketplace– a wonderland of winter fun and shopping. We grabbed some fresh kettle corn and mozzarepas and contemplated whether or not to take advantage of the free Bryant Park ice skating- skate rental is just $6! Instead, we opted to make our way towards Museum Mile for a touch of culture.

As we crossed through Central Park towards the Upper East Side, we spontaneously decided to take a rowing excursion in the Lake at 72nd street. Everyone had a chance behind the oars as we followed turtles and took photos of ourselves in the beautiful fall foliage and blue skies. One hour later, we arrived on Museum Mile.

Museum Mile hosts some of the best museums in the world- ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Jewish Museum to the African Art Museum to the GuggenheimTake note here, that a critical companion on our journey today was our Columbia student ID. With the ID, we get free access and discounts to dozens of museums, theaters, movies, and events throughout the city. After our tour of the Guggenheim, we crossed back through Central Park in the evening and took the 1 subway line back up to Columbia.

New York City is definitely one of the greatest perks of SIPA. Living and studying the city not only offers you a spectrum of professional opportunities, but it is a cultural education in itself.

For the breakdown of our frugal budget:

Subway Fare: $9.00

Coffee: $4.00

Lunch/Snacks: $5.87

Boating in Central Park: $15.00 (Cost per person: $5.00).

Total Cost:  $23.87 

A beautiful day out in New York City with good friends- priceless!


"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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