My name is Marta Aparicio and I’m part of the class of 2020.  I obtained a Master of International Affairs (MIA) with a concentration in Urban and Social Policy (USP) and a double specialization in the United Nations and Latin American studies.

What did you do before attending SIPA?

I obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Government from Georgetown University.  Prior to starting my journey at SIPA, I was working as a Case Manager for the Providence Housing Authority in Rhode Island. I supported unemployed or underemployed residents in achieving their education, job training, employment, and financial stability goals. I also had the pleasure to work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Adjunct Instructor in Miami Dade College.  Additionally, I managed the functions of the Miami Dade College – West Campus Bookstore, including budgets and financial goals, customers service levels, policy administration, supervision, maintenance of sales and inventory records, and all related matters.

My biggest accomplishments have derived from my dedication to service and fostering a sense of community and sisterhood.  For the past ten years, I have served my community as a mentor to young high school girls, newly arrived refugees, and unaccompanied minors from Latin America.

Why did you choose the USP concentration, and the United Nations and Latin American regional specializations?

When doing research about master’s programs, SIPA was my top choice because it does a great job at combining international relations and public policy.  As a State Department Rangel Fellow and future U.S. Diplomat, I decided to study urban and social policy as I believe it is important to study urban cities, so I can be better equipped to think critically about the economic, social, political, and technological forces that are shaping urban areas across the globe. I also found that USP was one of the smaller concentrations with a tight community and support network. This concentration also gave me more freedom when creating my class schedule and I was able to take a couple of courses at Teacher’s College, which I enjoyed a lot!

Additionally, I couldn’t decide between United Nations studies and Latin American regional studies, so I chose both.  I used to dream of working at the UN, so it was an honor to be able to take classes with experienced and knowledgeable instructors who work at the UN and to attend events at the UN.

As a Guatemalan-American, who would like to serve as a Diplomat in Latin America, I though choosing the Latin America regional specialization would strengthen my knowledge about that region.  Also, the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) offers courses that relate to policy in Latin America and also courses that teach students about the Latinx community in the United States.

What are some of your most memorable SIPA experiences?

One of my favorite memories from my time at SIPA was having the opportunity to go on one of the winter break treks, itrek 2019.  I’m thankful to have been able to travel to the Middle East for the first time, learn about the complex and rich history from different people, and get to know more Seeples outside of the classroom for about 3 weeks.  We learned, danced, sang during bus rides, ate new foods, and explored new places together. I also went on a road trip with two Seeples from my orientation group A – the Alpacas – where we shared life memories, got lost, met strangers, slept very little, encountered interesting AirBnb stories, and did things “just for the experience.”

Additionally, I enjoyed attending events at the United Nations – but one that always comes to mind is an event at the U.S. Mission to the UN.  I had the opportunity to join Youth Delegates and Youth Stakeholders from around the world for a discussion on Youth and Political Participation.

Another memorable experience was joining a Columbia University dance group CURaqs.  This belly dance group allowed me to meet other students from outside of SIPA and to relieve some stress by dancing.

How did SIPA affect you?

My SIPA class was predominantly international (around 60% of international students), which made my graduate experience completely different than my undergrad experience.  At SIPA, I not only learned inside the classroom but also learned a lot from my peers outside of the classroom. I enjoyed engaging in conversations with friends and learning more about the world from their lenses.

SIPA also offers extensive networking opportunities on-campus, at a local bar, or even at the United Nations. Thanks to SIPA, I expanded my international network. Upon graduation, my new SIPA contacts relocated in different corners of the globe. Now, I know that when I serve in different countries, I can always reconnect with fellow Seeples.

What did you do after SIPA?

After graduation, I started working with the U.S. Department of State and moved to Washington, D.C. to start my foreign service training.  Due to COVID, my initial 4-week orientation was virtual. My first diplomatic assignment will be in Vientiane, Laos. I’m currently in language training (learning Laotian) and also learning more about Southeast Asia. I’m looking forward to an exciting and challenging career representing the United States around the world.