Note from Admissions: The 2021-2022 academic year is an exciting one as we all return to campus. We’re excited to welcome our new group of program assistants (PAs) working with us here in the SIPA Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. They’ll specifically be helping you through the application and decision process over the next few months. You can learn more about assistantships and what PAs do here.

Joey Fernandez is a first-generation Dominican-American born and raised in New York City. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and LaGuardia Community College. Joey has completed internships with the Department of State at the Office of Russian Affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova. As a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, Joey will be joining the Department of State upon graduation.

What were you doing before you came to SIPA?
Prior to attending SIPA, I was an undergraduate student at Georgetown University, where I was studying International Politics with a concentration in security studies. I focused my coursework on conflict reconciliation.

What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?
The most challenging part of my SIPA experience has been attending graduate school during a pandemic. This forced me to change my expectations and take advantage of my SIPA experience in different ways. I had to be more proactive in trying to get to know my professors and classmates by attending office hours and virtual social engagements.

Do you feel like you have gotten to know some of the faculty members?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my SIPA experience has been getting to know some of my professors well. Many of my professors have created a welcoming environment that encourages students to engage with them. Among the many professors I’ve been able to connect with are Professors Alexis Wichowski, Professor Michael Nutter, and Professor Christopher Hill. Through these professors, I’ve been able to learn not only theory but also their experiences as practitioners. Getting to know these professors and feeling that they are invested in my personal and professional growth has been the highlight of my time at SIPA.

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?
As an MPA student, I found that the core curriculum developed the necessary writing and analytical skills necessary to effectively engage in public policy debates. The intro course “politics of policymaking” emphasizes concise writing in the policy memo format. The skills I developed through my core courses at SIPA have been useful throughout my time at the university and they were helpful during my summer interning with the Department of State.

What advice do you have for current applicants?
I would recommend current applicants to extensively research the program they are applying for. They should research professors they’d like to take and demonstrate that they have a deep understanding of how SIPA could develop their interest. Showing what clubs, professors, and other programming they are looking forward to participating in best highlights their unique interest in attending SIPA.