Author Archive for Kaitlyn Wells – Page 2

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Lan Hoang

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Lan Hoang, from Hanoi, Vietnam. Lan’s interest in international affairs began with a senior thesis project about Vietnamese refugees while studying at the University of Hong Kong. After graduation she spent some time with the United Nations in Bangkok, where she worked on migration-policy issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Lan’s background pairs nicely with her chosen concentration, Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy. Attending SIPA has been a lifelong ambition, as she grew up flipping through the pages of Columbia University publications. How’d she get access? Well, Lan’s father is actually a 1995 SIPA graduate. Despite her preparedness for the program, she said she was surprised to read her acceptance letter and jumped for joy upon reading the good news. Lan, we’re happy to have you here, too!

Full Name: Lan Hoang
Age: 24
Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy

Hometown: Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam
Undergraduate University: University Of Hong Kong
Undergraduate Major: International Politics and Sociology
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2015

What’s your professional background?
Graduated in the summer of 2015, my professional journey of two years revolve around social development and particularly migration policies. It all began with my senior year’s thesis on the welfare of Vietnamese and African asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. This led me to learn about the heart-wrenching stories of the suffering faced by the Vietnamese refugees, my fellow countrymen, since the end of the Vietnam War. This sparked my interests in the different types of cross-border movements. I then went on to conduct research on the empowerment of migrants and their families for a research institute in Kyrgyzstan, as well as gender equality in Vietnam. This was followed by a one-and-a-half year stint with various United Nations agencies in Bangkok, working on high-level dialogues on migration policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
Applying to SIPA, I hope to leverage my research skills and professional experience in migration policies. This is to address situations of vulnerable migrants in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly those of refugees, asylum-seekers, and female migrants. That said, I have also had a growing interest in the field of data science and technology. Furthermore, I realize the importance and benefits of being open to new experiences, so I am very excited to see how my professional interests evolve throughout the next 2 years!

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Disbelief! It was a very late Friday night in Bangkok when I anxiously opened my SIPA portal account. The wait was starting to wear me down and my tendency to be self-critical probably didn’t help either. Then the confetti shot across the laptop screen and I found myself jumping up and down with my partner. This feeling of joy and disbelief didn’t go away until a few days later.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
My dad attended Columbia SIPA and graduated in 1995. As cliche as it sounds, my dream of attending SIPA grew as I was flicking through the Columbia Alumni Magazines sent to him each year in high school. That was a vague and much more naive dream of my younger self. As the years passed and my professional goal took its current form, I realize SIPA is the perfect place for me to pursue a career in the policy field with an international outlook and the UN’s presence. Also, who doesn’t love being in NYC? And so these reasons are enough to me to pick SIPA over other similar top-ranked graduate schools in the US and Europe.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
The classmates from different corners of the globe. The exposure to a wide range of policy topics. The endless (but also very competitive) opportunities to pursue my professional goals.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
Financial expenses while at SIPA and in NYC! Despite receiving a partial scholarship from SIPA, the tuition bills took away quite some joy from the initial thought of attending SIPA. That said, I know a SIPA education is a professional (and personal) investment. This is also the common concern among both incoming and current SIPA students and I love the we-are-in-this-together spirit that it creates as a result.

What are your goals after SIPA?
Post-SIPA, my grand professional vision is to join the bilateral and multilateral efforts to protect migrants at the International Organization for Migration – UN Migration Agency. I would be at the forefront of formulating policies for effective migration governance that adheres to international standards and fulfills migrants’ fundamental rights. I’m also mindful that this goal my change, but perhaps most importantly is to become more well-rounded and more attuned to the policy challenges throughout the international community.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
Perhaps just one small tweak in the way our brains are wired, so that we would have a much easier time picking up new languages. That way language barriers would no longer exist (while we are still able to preserve the cultural values carried through languages) and thus people around the world would be able to communicate with one another better. This thought certainly needs more fine-tuning, but it comes from my own frustration that emerged from the years gallivanting through the less English-speaking parts of the world.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
Apart from being a self-proclaimed photography enthusiast, movie buff and book lover, I’m very excited to be joining the Lindy Hop (swing dance) scene in NYC and living near Harlem – where the dance came from!

[Photo courtesy of Lan Hoang]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

It’s time…

We’re thrilled to announce that SIPA’s 2018 Application Portal has officially opened. But don’t click the APPLY NOW button just yet. Before wading through the choppy waters of your admission application, we recommend you get your ducks in a row. To get started…

1. Subscribe to the Admissions Blog <– Yes, this blog!

2. Add the Application Deadlines to your calendar <– Absolutely all materials must be submitted by the deadline to be eligible for the entry term.

SPRING 2018 (MIA/MPA only)
October 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST

FALL 2018
Early Action Deadline: November 2, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST
Fellowship Consideration Deadline: January 5, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EST
Final Application Deadline: February 5, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EST

3. Register for and attend an in-person or virtual Information Session <– We’ll add more throughout the year, so check back frequently.

4. Practice your Video Essay response <– Yes, it’s required, but don’t stress too much. Just review the link for detailed help.

5. Relax and enjoy this photo of the Admissions Office’s unofficial mascot, Sutton. Yeah, we know she’s adorable. <– The photo up top. No, she’s not for sale.
Want to learn more? Email us at with any questions you have about the application process.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Poorvi Goel

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Poorvi Goel from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. Poorvi studied economics at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. She also earned a degree from the London School of Economics and she’s been working as an economist at the Planning Commission of India and the UNDP. She’s nervous about readjusting to life as a student, but looks forward to getting her “hands dirty” in the development process instead of just being an onlooker. Welcome Poorvi!

Full Name: Poorvi Goel
Age: 27
Degree Program: MPA in Development Practice

Hometown: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
Undergraduate University: St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
Undergraduate Major: Economics
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2011

What’s your professional background? After my undergrad, I did my post graduation in economics at London School of Economics. Since then, I have worked as an economist for about four years with the Planning Commission of India, United Nations Development Programme and the Commonwealth Secretariat. My most recent role involves policy research and advocacy for least developed countries and small states in the Commonwealth; specifically, building their trade capacity and working towards achieving their development goals through trade.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I applied to SIPA to branch out as an economist. I love the rigour and technicalities of my work but now I’m looking to gain a more multidisciplinary skill set. I’m actually hoping to get my hands dirty in the development process rather than being an observer to it.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
Tears! The six months or so between preparing to apply and getting accepted are an emotional roller coaster, so it was probably an outpouring of relief, joy and excitement.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
I had a wonderful conversation with Glenn (Director of MDP) at Admitted Students Day in New York – I’m quite glad I made the trip from London to across the pond! After speaking with him and current students of the programme, I was confident that MDP offered exactly what I wanted from graduate school.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
Living in New York! That, and meeting some of the brightest and most motivated people from all over the world.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I suppose the thought of readjusting to student life is scariest for me. Though I do think once school starts, we’d jump straight into the deep end and there will be no time for apprehensions.

What are your goals after SIPA?
I want to transition to policy implementation and management roles in international organisations from the more research-based roles that I have gained experience in so far. However, I’m open to being challenged during the course of the programme and exploring new career options that I hadn’t considered before. That’s what being at university is about!

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
If I could (and I realise this is no small thing), I would eliminate all forms of inequality everywhere. This applies to inequalities of gender, race, access to opportunities etc. The world would be so much more fun if everyone had a chance to be the best version of themselves, rather than having to expend their energy fighting battles for basic rights that most of us take for granted.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I’m always up for picking my bags up and travelling – at the drop of a hat. I especially like to be in the outdoors (hiking/cycling), so if there are fellow Seeples that have itchy feet like mine, I would love to talk more about potential new adventures!


[Photos courtesy of Dian Dong | In Switzerland for Geneva Week (2015) at World Trade Organization; With a native tribe in Vanuatu]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

Columbia alumni artist in review: Elizabeth Rose Daly ’94SIPA

Elizabeth Rose DalyThe Columbia University alumni series spoke with 1994 SIPA graduate Elizabeth Rose Daly, who created Liz Daly’s Culture Digest as a way to share her love of New York City’s amazing cultural offerings and showcase some of the lesser known arts and cultural presentations.   

Elizabeth Rose Daly is an executive with extensive experience in international business, government, and economic development. Since May, 2015, she has undertaken various consulting assignments, as well as advising foreign businesses and governments on how to connect with New York City government and resources. She has also been publishing Liz Daly’s Culture Digest, ( a blog about arts and culture in New York City.

Ms. Daly was Director, International Business, in the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs from 2003 until 2015, promoting New York City to foreign companies contemplating opening operations in the City, and helping them access the resources they needed to get started. She also assisted the foreign trade and diplomatic community on business and government issues.

Previously Ms. Daly held various management and administrative positions with Crédit Industriel et Commercial, New York Branch, and Commerzbank, New York Branch, as well as the New York Office of FTCC Communications, a French telecommunications company. She also ran Brooklyn Goes Global, a program of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce that assisted Brooklyn-based manufacturers to export their products.

Ms. Daly has a long history of community service, having served in various capacities on the Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Community Board 2, and the 84th Precinct Community Council.

Ms. Daly holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts from Fordham University. A native of the Bronx, she has traveled extensively overseas, and has studied in France and Germany. She speaks fluent French and intermediate German.

For our members who are not familiar with your blog, can you tell us about Liz Daly’s Culture Digest and what inspired you to create it?

After leaving the Mayor’s Office, I wanted to take a new direction in my career. I have a long-standing love of the arts – I was an art major in high school, and more recently studied jazz singing. Starting the blog was a way of sharing that passion and my knowledge of New York City with others, while developing my writing. It was also a way for me to learn about cultural life across the five boroughs, and explore venues I hadn’t visited before. And yes, I confess, it’s a way to have a lot of fun.

I’ve always worked in international business, and saw early on how important the arts are – in many countries, if you want to land a deal, your familiarity with theatre, music and art is just as important as your knowledge of business.  From an economic development point of view, one of the attractions for companies and entrepreneurs setting up shop here is NYC’s vibrant cultural life – not just the major institutions, but the local theatre companies, dance troupes, galleries, music venues…  And those are really my focus.

Read the entire interview here.

Fall 2017 New Students Series: Dian Dong

In today’s installment of our New Students Series, we’re welcoming Dian Dong from Hangzhou in Zhejiang, China. Dian studied sociology at the University of Maryland in the United States, and is currently working on education and student privacy issues. While working on US-China relations, she found her calling in international affairs and technology and hopes to strengthen those skillsets while at SIPA. Dian describes reading her SIPA admission letter as “one of the happiest moments in my life,” and she plans to make every second at SIPA count. 

Full Name: Dian Dong
Age: 23
Degree Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Economic and Political Development

Hometown: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Undergraduate University: University of Maryland, College Park
Undergraduate Major: Sociology
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2016

What’s your professional background? 
Upon graduation, I have been working on educational initiatives that address the improvement of student performance domestically and internationally as well as the protection of student privacy. I also worked on the 1 Million Strong initiative that strengthens US-China relations and improves mutual understanding through educational exchange programs.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in? 
My academic background is in social sciences, but I discovered my interest in international affairs through working. I hope to learn more about technology and entrepreneurship at SIPA and gain more experiences to work on international education projects.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
I held my breath and read the first sentence of the acceptance letter more than three times just to make sure I didn’t read it wrong, and then I experienced one of the happiest moments in my life.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
SIPA has the most global policy program – the diverse student body and rigorous academic programs make SIPA my number one choice.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward to learning from the world-class faculty and classmates. I’m also excited to field questions and objections from professors and fellow SIPA classmates – great ideas may be generated in the next two years!

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
A SIPA alumni once told me that it’s hard to find work-life balance in graduate school. Although I probably will never have enough time, I hope to make every second at SIPA worthwhile.

What are your goals after SIPA?
After SIPA, I want to be an expert in applying technology to expand educational access and to promote cultural exchanges and help people establish global awareness across countries.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
As a sociology major in college, I learn to always put oneself in other’s shoes. With a focus on humanism, I want to help people step out of their comfort zone, and foster mutual understanding through storytelling, social media campaigns, educational opportunities, and technology.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I love hiking, yoga, and playing the ukulele. Still working on being a minimalist.

[Photo courtesy of Dian Dong]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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