Second Acts is a feature that tells the stories of student’s personal reinvention as they explore a new passion in their lives shared through Columbia Magazine written by Rebecca Shapiro. In this feature, two SIPA students share their unique stories that led them to seeking out our program and finding their new home with us at SIPA.

Dov Scheindlin (Jörg Meyer)

Dov Scheindlin
Then: Professional violist
Now: SIPA student

“For thirty years, I’ve made my living as a professional violist. I studied at Juilliard and have played all over the world, but I’ve spent most of my career in New York, where I’m a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

When COVID-19 hit, the music world shut down. I started to get nervous about the future and wondered what I would do if I wasn’t playing the viola. I knew that I wanted to make the world a better place and that there’s a limit to what music can accomplish. Almost on a lark, I decided to apply to SIPA, which is just a few blocks away from where I live.

I’m now finishing my first year in the master of international affairs program, concentrating in economic and political development. It’s been liberating to think about the world in such a different way and invigorating to be around so many idealistic young people. It’s honestly kind of a rebirth.

I’m not sure yet what I want to pursue after graduation, but I know that I want to help bring prosperity and agency to people who need it. I’m in a very lucky position: music has come roaring back, so I’ve been able to juggle my two roles while I figure out my next steps. I’ve had a rich and varied career in music, but I’m having such a great time discovering this new side of myself.”

Reed Kessler (Jörg Meyer)

Reed Kessler
Then: Olympic equestrian
Now: SIPA and GS student

“I’ve been riding horses competitively since I was a child. I grew up riding with my family, and my godmother, Katie Prudent, is one of the most decorated female equestrians of all time. I was lucky to have a few big career highlights at a young age. I won the US national championship in show jumping in 2012, when I was seventeen. That same year, I became the youngest equestrian athlete to compete at the Olympic Games.

I made wonderful memories competing, but I reached a point where I didn’t feel as fulfilled and I wanted to go back to school. Alongside my athletic career, I’m an ambassador for JustWorld International, an organization that partners with local NGOs to provide educational opportunities to underprivileged children. That experience sparked my interest in human rights and foreign policy, which led me to Columbia.

As a slightly older student, the fast track to a bachelor’s and a master’s in the SIPA/GS dual-degree program was incredibly appealing to me. I’m concentrating in international security policy and am currently interning at the United States Mission to the United Nations. I’m interested in a career in either foreign or civil service at the State Department or in peace operations at the UN.

My athletic career was instrumental in getting me where I am today, and I know it will continue to prepare me for what lies ahead. I learned discipline, perseverance, patience, and strategic planning — all skills that make for a successful student and civil servant.”

For more stories like this, we encourage you to check out Columbia Magazine or SIPA Office of Alumni Affairs.