SIPA students in most two-year MPA and MIA programs have a degree requirement to conduct a relevant, eligible internship. This summer, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Seeples were able to enjoy rewarding virtual internships. Here’s a roundup of the amazing work Seeples did over the summer!

Drashti Brahmbhatt MPA ’21, Citizens Union

Drashti co-lead a pilot program for Citizens Union in which she created detailed community profiles for City Council Districts in preparation for the 2021 New York City elections. These profiles will help voters visualize and grasp each district’s top issues, demographics, and established leaders. 

Drashti reports: “In 2021, 35 out of 51 city council districts have open seats! This is unprecedented, and provides a real opportunity for change in the city!”

Aastha Uprety MPA ’21, Glacier Hub

“I’m working as a writer for GlacierHub, a section of the The Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blog. We publish stories about various aspects of glaciers and mountain communities, from emerging scientific research to social and political issues. As a TMaC specializer and aspiring writer, I’ve loved being able to gain experience with journalistic writing, interviewing, and editing. I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics in climate justice that build on and expand beyond what I learn in the classroom. Our staff is made up of talented students and graduates across programs at Columbia and Barnard and led by Dr. Ben Orlove.” — Aastha Uprety

Julia Vieira de Andrade Dias MPA ’21, Poverty Action

Julia, whose photo is featured at the top, worked as a summer researcher for Innovations for Poverty Action, working remotely from her home in NYC, supporting a randomized control trial focused on measuring the impact of cash transfers on households and markets in Liberia before and during the COVID-19, as well as the behavior of intimate partner violence during the pandemic. 

Hasmik Sahakyan MPA-DP ’21, World Bank – Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All)

As her MDP summer placement, Hasmik joined the team of the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative, hosted by the World Bank. SuM4All is a premier global platform uniting 55 leading public and private organizations, multinational development banks and civil society organizations in the transport sector under the vision of advancing sustainable mobility worldwide to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative informs the work of the World Bank and other financiers towards that vision. Hasmik was engaged in data research and analysis to identify new gaps in transport and assessed the impact of COVID-19 on the sector to analyze transport resilience to shocks such as extreme weather and natural disasters, IT risks, as well as pandemics. As a member of the Data and Diagnostic subgroup of the Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility pilot project in South Africa, she contributed to gathering and analyzing data to produce the diagnostic part of the final report of “Assessment of South Africa’s Mobility System.”

Christina Sewell MPA ’21, Rainforest Partnership

“As this summer’s strategic impact intern at NGO Rainforest Partnership I was able to lead the overall organization of and communications efforts for World Rainforest Day, a global activation campaign started by RP to elevate the understanding that protecting rainforests is one of the most powerful tools we have to address our climate change and biodiversity challenges—and to educate on the many ways people can take action. Given the global pandemic, World Rainforest Day 2020’s emphasis shifted to the virtual space with our partners and activists hosting innovative and engaging awareness building events online, such as film screenings, virtual tours, panel discussions with indigenous rainforest leaders, guided meditations, and more.” — Christina Sewell

Irina Preotescu MIA ’21, World Merit’s COVID-19 Global Task Force

“This summer, I have been working as a Research Intern for World Merit’s COVID-19 Global Task Force, a brand new initiative that provides support for activists and changemakers from all over the world. The Task Force offers specialized support in research, fundraising strategies, and communications for COVID-19-related projects, leading to immediate impact in local communities in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Nepal, Morocco, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, India, or Brazil. My work involves coordinating the research team, contributing to the program’s expansion, and taking on all the necessary administrative tasks required for the successful development of the COVID-19 Global Task Force. My favorite part about this internship is getting to know and work with inspiring young changemakers from all walks of life and getting to see the positive effects their projects have in their communities.

I am also currently doing a remote internship with Methods for Irrigation and Agriculture-Jordan (MIRRA), through the Amman Columbia Global Center. MIRRA is an non-governmental organization that supports the development of the water and agriculture sector in Jordan and in the region, through irrigation water management and agricultural commodities systems optimization. My responsibilities focus on editing articles, reports, and studies, in order to meet international academic standards for publication. This internship is particularly important to me, as it addresses several areas that are relevant to my studies and research interests, such as political development, resource management, refugees, and agricultural development.

In addition, a paper I had worked on alongside fellow Seeples Khanh Vu MPA-DP ’21, Maria Montalvo MPA ’20, and Lingying Chang MIA ’21, was published by the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies. Our paper ‘Does the integration of MHPSS in Education create a positive Effect on Children Learning Outcomes?’ was written in consultation with Save the Children Denmark, under the guidance of Professor Allison Anderson.” — Irina Preotescu

Katia Joo MPA-DP ’21, Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development

During the summer, Katia worked remotely for the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development in Malaysia supporting research related to COVID-19. One of her projects measured the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, focusing on migrant workers and indigenous groups; the other project focused on digital information about the pandemic and the implications of information asymmetry on the well being of vulnerable groups. Her work aimed to increase crisis response efforts.

Daria Schitrit MPA ‘21, hPass

This summer, Daria joined hPass, an early stage public healthcare startup. The goal of hPass is to help communities, schools, and small businesses reopen during COVID-19 with a symptoms check platform.

“At SIPA, I focus on social ventures and am interested in health, public policy and tech. I am excited working at a startup with a social mission during these turbulent times,” she said.




Sanya Batra MPA ’21, Asian Development Bank

Sanya said this about her summer internship: 

“I’m interning with the Asian Development Bank, headquartered in Manila, remotely from New York City. Working closely with the Advisor to the Board of Directors, I’m conducting an assessment of ADB’s progress to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with Strategy 2030, highlighting key operational differences across Multilateral Development Banks and suggesting subsequent recommendations for ADB’s performance improvement. It’s been challenging to work with a 12-hour time difference, but I get to attend really interesting informal board seminars that keep me going! Along with the internship, I was also a Teaching Assistant for an EMPA Macroeconomics class for the summer semester at SIPA.

Apart from work, long socially-distant walks exploring NYC and cooking experiments have been my way of making the most of NYC summer amidst the pandemic!”

Ryan Dahm MPA ’21, Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration at the US Department of State

Ryan worked as a program manager in the Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration at the US Department of State. The Bureau is tasked with coordinating USG humanitarian diplomacy with international organizations, local aid organizations, and other nation-states. With numerous regional missions involved with every ongoing refugee crisis, the Bureau dispenses over $3 billion in foreign assistance to UNHCR, IOM, and the ICRC. Ryan utilized the quantitative skills learned at SIPA to manage budgeting programs that support Refugee Coordinators worldwide.

Sameeksha Khare MPA ’21, The Azadi Project

This summer, Sameeksha wrote an article published in the Women’s Media Center on the menstrual hygiene crisis in Europe’s largest refugee camp. Her work as a Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant with The Azadi Project, a non-profit organization, led her to highlight the dire situation faced by refugee women, especially during a pandemic. Simultaneously, to gain further experience at the intersection of public health and gender, she did a summer internship with CMMB worldwide, a New-York based non-profit working in Haiti, Kenya, Peru, South Sudan and Zambia.

“I’m grateful to have been part of such important work over the summer, and wish to continue pursuing critical public health and gender issues,” she said.

Bryan Sherryl MPA-DP ’21, Engineering for Change

As a Water Research Fellow for Engineering for Change, Bryan spent his summer placement working as a consultant for Maple Microdevelopment in the Mt. Elgon Region of Uganda. The project, building ecological resilience of tribal peoples, required gathering survey data on what makes technologies adaptable in these communities, with the hope that understanding this will help renewable energy and green technologies more easily enter the Ugandan markets.

Additionally, the second half of the project looked at gathering data on sacred natural site locations, key geographic points or natural wonders special to local tribal customs and religions. Gathering this data in a central database will help future researchers to identify what really matters to the people in the area.

Currently Bryan is social distancing at his home in Arizona with occasional visits to national parks.