1. How did you decide to apply to SIPA? Did you always see yourself here? Or, did going to Columbia ever feel out of reach?

I always say that SIPA made me choose SIPA. In 2019, I was in NYC for business purposes. I wanted to start a business in Mexican wine distribution, as I am from Mexican wine country. Before coming to New York, I had heard of  SIPA. While it was a dream for me, it felt out of reach. Still, at that time, I used to sign up for any conference that was open to the public. One day, I was on campus for a conference with the Minister of Economy of Mexico. Little did I know, my interactions there were going to change my life forever, as they led me to meet students from SIPA. Before I met them, I used to think that the Ivy League was only for millionaires or direct descendants of Einstein, but I realized that SIPA is made up of many hard-working people with a lot of passion. SIPA has an amazing energy– you walk in and you can feel it– which made me want to be part of it this community and work on my application.

2. How did you come to know that you have the skills and experience to be a SIPA student and to succeed at Columbia?

I have 8 years of experience working in both the private and public sectors, so I never doubted my professional experience. But more importantly, I had specific motivations to apply. To future applicants, what moves you? That is what is going to keep you going no matter what.

Before starting my applications, I had to believe in myself! You must be your biggest cheerleader. During this time at SIPA, I have learned that to succeed just requires showing up, in every possible way. Be present, enjoy the experience, and open your mind to every new idea. Thanks to your peers, you have the chance to rethink everything you thought you knew. That’s how you will grow both personally and professionally, and that is what will guarantee us success.

3. As many applicants deal with issues of self-doubt and confidence when applying to graduate school, how would you advise them to convey confidence in their own skills on their applications?

Every single student that applies feels scared or in doubt at some point, no matter who they are or what they have done. It is a challenging process, so it is normal to feel anxious. Remember what moves you, and that you are capable of doing it. Even on those bad days when you’re not sure, yes, you can.

Discipline and constancy are key. The application process can be long, so dedicate time to it, which will allow you to review your ideas and change them as you wish. Then, you will be able to best portray them on your essays.

4. Having a support system through the application process can be critical for applicants in knowing what they have to offer. How would you advise applicants to use their personal, professional, and academic connections to help them keep calm and project confidence through the application process?

Your support system is everything! Use every single resource that you have! People are your most valuable resource. In my case, for the short essay, I spoke to those in my personal and professional life, SIPA students at the time, and alumni. Together, they all helped me to improve the clarity of my ideas.

Personally, I was lucky enough to have access to the SIPA community when I was considering applying. But even if you are not in New York, I would highly recommend that you speak to current students, alumni, and professors. We are all very friendly! After all, we are studying politics. Student associations are a great place to look when researching SIPA and its student body.