In our next New Students Series installment, I’m introducing you to Sierra Robbins, from San Diego, California. Sierra works in the women’s reproductive healthcare field and wants to learn how to be more effective in the field by joining SIPA’S MPA in Development Practice program. One thing she really looks forward to in the fall is connecting with her new classmates and picking their brains. Welcome Sierra and good luck soaking up everyone’s knowledge!

Full Name: Sierra Robbins
Age: 24
Degree Program: MPA in Development Practice

Hometown: San Diego, CA
Undergraduate University: UC San Diego
Undergraduate Major: International Studies
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2015

What’s your professional background?
I work in the women’s reproductive healthcare field; specifically focusing on accessibility of effective contraceptive methods throughout the developing world.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
In a sense I applied for both of these reasons – I am pursuing my MPA in Development Practice to learn how to more effectively run programs similar to what I’m doing now, but I first and foremost want to expand my experience in the humanitarian assistance field.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Shock! I thought I had bombed the video response portion completely. Once the surprise wore off, I was really excited to be able to live in New York and have access to some of the best faculty in the world.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
It ultimately came down to curriculum. None of SIPA’s competitors held a candle to the MPA-DP program, and I loved the idea of the cohort system.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward to picking the brains of and collaborating with not only world-class professors and professionals, but also my fellow SIPA students.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I didn’t think I had any, but now that you mention it… I’ve been out of mathematics and economics practice for awhile. Hopefully the math camp gets me up to snuff.

Sierra poses with a group of four other people on a visit to a women's health facility to South Africa.]

What are your goals after SIPA?
I have no doubt these will continuously change over the next two years, but I am hoping that my summer field placement helps me to gain experience in the humanitarian relief field that I can use in a related job after my time at SIPA.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
I personally miss the displays of empathy that I used to see around my community. I don’t know if it’s because I’m no longer in my small hometown or because messages of hatred are all we seem to see in the media, but I truly think that we as a community, country, and world should spend less time thinking about ourselves and more time helping others. The SIPA community strikes me as aligning with these values, another reason why this program was so appealing to me.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
As part of my current role I serve as a Smart Sex Q&A website manager for Zambian teenagers and youth. I answer a lot of insightful and sometimes interesting questions about body image, contraception, safe sex, pregnancy, relationships, STI’s, and more. The funny part is now that my friends in California know I’m doing this, I get similar questions from them.


Share your story by completing the New Student Self-Interview Form today!

[Photos courtesy of Sierra Robbins | 1) Building a business model as part of an Innovation Accelerator Boot Camp at the UN World Food Programme office in Munich, Germany this April 2017. 2) Hiking Torres Del Paine in Patagonia, Chile in December 2016. 3) Visiting a women’s health facility on a field visit to South Africa in September 2016.]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.