Archive for diplomacy

Why I Applied to SIPA – It All Started In High School

My path to studying at SIPA started from when I was a child. Growing up the Bronx, NY, I was surrounded by Spanish. I was fascinated by people speaking in a way that I did not understand. The sounds made me want to learn the language and its speakers. Once I entered 5th grade I began taking Spanish, and it was my favorite class. Having spent some of childhood in Jamaica and with my mother’s side of the family living there, I was traveling a good amount between Kingston and New York.

That Spanish class and the back-and-forth between countries began a love of other languages, cultures and traveling.

When I entered high school, I began to think what career path I would choose. My original plans included me becoming a forensic scientist or a occupational therapist. Teenage-Me liked solving mysteries and playing sports so I thought those professions would be fun (Adult-Me still likes those things). During freshman and sophomore year, I quickly learned that although I was good at Physics, Biology and Chemistry were not my strong suits. My less-than-stellar aptitude at the sciences dampened my scientist and therapist goals.

In my junior year, I was in a program that took high school students to Washington, D.C., to meet diplomats and Congressmembers to discuss diplomacy and national security. Meeting diplomats, learning about what they did and seeing how much they knew about the world left an impression on me. It was on this trip that I figured out I wanted to travel and learn more about the world. And the cherry on top, learning a language for work? I wanted to sign up immediately. Sadly you just can’t sign up for these kinds of positions.

From that point on in high school, I was researching undergraduate and graduate programs in international affairs focusing how to get into diplomacy. As my research into programs expanded, so did my interests in Latin America, which ended up as one of my undergraduate majors.

As I was leaving undergraduate, I was figuring out which field in international affairs I wanted to focus on. Economics had always interested me, but I always thought I was never good at quantitative/mathematical fields. After undergraduate, I spent some time working in the budgeting and finance in Boston. This experience helped me become more comfortable with the quantitative fields and pushed me to take the leap into studying economics.

When I was looking for programs, I wanted a broad one that had a strong economics background and IFEP won my heart. Also, the amount of course offerings at SIPA would allow me to learn about other policy fields. On top of this, with SIPA being in New York, I was able to come back home after living in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts for 10 years. I had missed the city.

A View from the Class: Kelsey Orr MPA ’19

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and faculty. In this issue, we feature recent SIPA graduate, Kelsey Orr MPA ’19. Kelsey is SIPA’s Michael and Polly Brandmeyer Fellow and concentrated in International Security Policy with a specialization in Management.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?
While earning a bachelor’s degree in politics and international affairs and Asian studies at Furman University in South Carolina, I interned at the U.S. Department of State, Southwest Airlines, and the Scottish Parliament. Some of the highlights of my undergraduate experiences included studying Japanese language and serving as a U.S. Youth Delegate to the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines.

Why did you choose SIPA?
I always wanted to live in New York, and as a U.S. Department of State fellow and future Foreign Service Officer, I knew that my career would take me all over the world, but my home base would be Washington, D.C. Before entering this career, I felt it was important for me to broaden my experience as much as possible and make connections outside of Washington, D.C. Living and studying in New York has certainly done that.

Why did you specialize in Management?
Knowing I would be a Political Officer at the Department of State, I was hard pressed to choose between the human rights and security concentration tracks because I am interested in the intersection of these two fields. However, with a management specialization, I have been able to take a variety of courses that fit both of these categories.

What have been some of your favorite SIPA experiences?
One of my favorite experiences during my first year at SIPA was working at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights with the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability program. I helped plan an annual conference that brings together human rights practitioners and scholars and was able to meet many inspiring individuals in the field.

In addition, Ambassador William Luers’s course, Talking with the Enemy, was a great way for me to learn about the history of U.S. diplomacy as well as to discuss current U.S. foreign policy issues. I thoroughly enjoyed studying the decision-making process of U.S. leaders and engaging in debate with the other students in the course.

What did you work on during your last semester at SIPA?
This spring, I am excited to work on the Mercy Corps capstone team to enhance youth participation in humanitarian action in Nepal. Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian organization empowering people to recover from crisis, build better lives, and transform their communities for good.

How has SIPA affected you?
SIPA has been life changing in terms of my worldview and has helped me hone really practical skills, such as conflict resolution, that I know will be useful in my future career.

What are your plans after SIPA?
In June 2019, I joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a Political Officer at the U.S. Department of State. I know that no matter where in the world my career takes me, I have the skillset to be an effective advocate thanks to my education at SIPA.

"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

Boiler Image