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.