Archive for Student Organizations

RISE Up!

This post is co-authored by George-Ann Ryan and Nabila Hassan, both of whom were members of RISE’s steering committee

Are you a potential SIPA student who wants to know what student organizations are available to satisfy your interest in social justice, inequality, and similar topics? At SIPA there are many organizations that cater to students who want to know how to apply their coursework and experience to issues of social and economic equity, one of which is RISE.

But first, who is RISE? 

RISE is the student working group on Race, Inequality, Solidarity and Economics (RISE) whose mission is to create a safe environment for students to work towards solutions to problems of social inequality, such as wealth and income inequality, poverty, and racial, economic and gender disparities.

How will RISE achieve this? 

  1. Knowledge sharing: Bringing together students, scholars and activists who are researching and working on all dimensions of inequality. RISE frequently partners with other student organizations and committees to explore multiple dimensions of inequalities
  2. Inclusivity advocacy: Advocate for greater inclusion of income disparity, poverty, racial divides and other dimensions of inequality in public policy curriculum
  3. Community building: Promote and enhance organizational efforts for social, economic and racial justice through active partnership with other student organizations
  4. Civic and political engagement: By connecting SIPA students to relevant volunteer and activism opportunities across New York City

Our main avenue to achieving our goals is through events where we invite practitioners, academics, artists, activists, and social entrepreneurs to educate and share with us about how their work has improved conditions for the communities they serve. 

Flagship event: Inequality of Rights Workshop

Last April, RISE held our inaugural Inequality of Rights Workshop, analyzing inequality through an intersectional lens. All of our privileges lie at the intersections of all our identities. Whether it be gender, race, economic status, or migration, our multifaceted identities provide insight into how we approach policy problems. RISE, along with other students groups, wanted to analyze how our intersecting identities impact how we are impacted by public policy decisions and start a conversation about what it really means to create policy that positively impacts everyone. Speakers were a combination of practitioners and academics including Dr. Suresh Naidu (Columbia SIPA), Ravi Ragbir (New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City), Eddie Taveras (FWD.us), and Helen Ho (Biking Public Project).

At the Workshop, Suresh Naidu gave an overview of the role of economic rights in the fight for equity through economic research and policy as well as all the ways in which our present policy framework denies us our economic rights. Ravi Ragbir shared his battle with and the importance of knowing your rights when navigating the migration process.

Why did you join RISE? 

George-Ann: My background in economics and public policy, especially as it relates to economic inequality and the ways in which racial and gender identities exacerbate it, meant that when I came to SIPA and saw the group’s name I was hooked from the get go. Making equitable policy begins with being able to see and propose remedies for the equalities present in our society

Nabila: I am interested in racial inequality and that was a huge motivator for me to pursue graduate school. RISE was a perfect fit that expanded on my interest and taught me that inequality exists across broad dimensions and often times multiple dimensions are intersecting with one another making the problem of inequality intertwined and complex 

Why is RISE an important dimension to the conversations at SIPA? 

RISE is a great way for those of us whose course load does not have the room to directly explore issues of equity in depth to discuss how we can apply our learned skill set to these issues, meet a diverse pool of like-minded students, and share resources and materials.

How does RISE engage with the broader SIPA community?

RISE also engages with the broader SIPA community through having representation on the Diversity Committee where a member of RISE’s Steering Committee, alongside chosen Steering Committee members of whom many are also representatives of student organizations,  acts as a student voice to the administration in reflecting our sentiments in how the school manages issues facing students from marginalized communities, driving diversity initiatives, and letting them know how students feel about the campus climate to that effect. RISE also collaborates with faculty and other student groups on events and programs to further the conversation beyond our membership and, sometimes, beyond SIPA’s doors!

Interested in what SIPA students are doing to further diversity? Check out this article, ‘The Quest to Build a More Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive SIPA’ here.

Want to learn more about RISE and what we’re up to? Like and follow our Facebook page!

Applying to SIPA as a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member

The transition from military service to graduate school can be intimidating, and veterans may have many concerns including how to express their experience in the application, funding opportunities, and whether they will fit in at Columbia. As a veteran and current SIPA student, I can confidently say that Columbia University is an extremely welcoming community for veterans. Columbia University has a long history of supporting veterans (Dwight Eisenhower was President of Columbia from 1948-1953!), and Columbia currently has the largest student veteran population in the Ivy Leagues. Except for funding opportunities, all of this applies equally to both U.S. and international veterans.


Patrick Dees, MIA ’20, speaks to a student about the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA).

Tell your story!

If you’re a veteran or active duty service member applying to SIPA, the most important thing is to tell your unique story in your essays. As a school of international affairs, SIPA values your experience in the military greatly. You have spent considerable time executing national security policy, and you’ve likely had a front row seat to interesting events that you may even find yourself studying in the classroom. Your military service also demonstrates a commitment to public service, and you’ve certainly had valuable leadership experience. All of these things strengthen your application, so make sure to include them in your essays in plain language.

I recommend asking a friend with no military experience to read your essay to ensure that you’ve removed or explained any military jargon. I used Service to School, a free service that pairs you with a mentor that has gained admission to a program similar to the ones you are considering, and I found it to be extremely helpful.

Apply for all funding opportunities

Columbia has numerous resources to help veterans fund their education. Columbia’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs has an extensive website full of detailed information on funding opportunities. I highly recommend you review it. Almost all of the veteran-related funding opportunities are unfortunately only available to U.S. veterans or active duty service members.

The first step is to ensure that you apply for all GI Bill benefits for which you are eligible. If you are eligible for 100% of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, SIPA offers additional funding through the Yellow Ribbon program. You will receive an email when the Yellow Ribbon application opens, and SIPA makes every effort to fund every eligible candidate.

Second, you should apply for funding from Columbia University. If you submit your application by the fellowship deadline, SIPA will automatically consider you for scholarships. You will also have the opportunity to apply for assistantships at the end of your first year. Information on these and other internal funding opportunities can be found here.

Third, you should research outside funding opportunities. Columbia provides a list of the opportunities most applicable to veterans and service members here. One of the opportunities I applied for, and was honored to receive, is the Tillman Scholarship. Columbia University is a University Partner school, and there are several Tillman scholars currently at Columbia. The Tillman scholarship provides not only funding, but extensive professional development opportunities and access to an amazing community of veterans, spouses, and active duty service members.

Join veterans’ organizations at Columbia and SIPA

The most important thing at SIPA is to find your community. SIPA has a large and active veteran community led by the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA). The CSVA is happy to assist prospective students, and they host several events to welcome new student veterans. Throughout the year, CSVA holds events and socials to build the veteran community. Last year, veterans had the opportunity to attend discussions with Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. CSVA also hosts one of SIPA’s most popular events, “Beer and War Stories,” in which student veterans and other guests share their experiences with fellow students and answer questions about the military in a casual, open discussion over beer and food.


Members of the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association meet with the Commander of U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli

Opportunities after SIPA

While many assume that all veterans choose the International Security Policy concentration and pursue defense-related careers, veterans at SIPA have found their niches in a wide variety of fields. SIPA’s Office of Career Services can connect students with an alumni who volunteers as SIPA’s career coach for transitioning veterans. The U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University (Milvets) is the undergraduate student veteran group, but their events are open to all veterans. They host numerous career panels and networking opportunities throughout the year. Whatever your interests are, SIPA will provide you with avenues to explore potential careers and take advantage of your valuable military experience.

Finding Community at SIPA

Thanks to a former Admissions program assistant and SIPA ’18 graduate for this post!

One of the reasons why I chose to attend SIPA was because I wanted to engage with and learn from the large and diverse student body. That being said, I was also concerned about getting lost in a larger program – my fears were quickly assuaged given that SIPA provides numerous opportunities to build community from Day 1.  Activities ranging from orientation week to organization fairs are abundant. Below is a list of some places that I found strong community.

Orientation Cohorts

Orientation week was a great way to meet fellow students was through my cohort (Seeples Group D!). Spending a week with a group of students, learning about SIPA, Columbia, and New York was both fun and allowed me to build a strong sense of community within my first several weeks on campus. My cohort still has reunions and some of my best friends at school were in that group!

Student Organizations

I was involved in a variety of student organizations at SIPA, which really added to my experience. It took me a semester to decide which ones I ultimately wanted to join. These groups range from SIPA Vets to Women in Leadership and are a fantastic way to not only learn about a wide array of topics but also provide extensive leadership opportunities. I also became involved in groups at both the Law and Business schools to gain a different perspective.

Regional Institutes

Columbia’s regional institutes are a tremendous asset to SIPA’s program. Ranging from the Weatherhead to the Harriman Institutes, these institutes are a fantastic place to find community both with fellow Seeples in addition to students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The institutes provide a wide array of cultural activities throughout the year, book talks, discussion groups, and many other events and resources. They were a major part of my life and community throughout the past several years!

International Trips

I participated in multiple student-led international trips during my time at SIPA. They were the highlight of my time here, and there is nothing that builds community like wandering around ancient ruins or being stuck on a train for 15 hours straight with a group of fellow Seeples. The trips allow you to experience the best of what SIPA has to offer – learning about international relations, policies, and cultures. Try to take advantage of these experiences – you will come away with lifelong friends!

Columbia Community Service

There are a myriad of community service opportunities sponsored by the University. They are a fantastic way to serve with fellow students and faculty as well as get to know residents on the Upper West Side.

Opportunities for SIPA students’ writing to be published!

Besides the student trips, speaker panels, and networking events, there are also many opportunities for SIPA students to publish their work. Here is a list of a few student-led initiatives:

Picture taken by Shalaka Joshi at the launch of the most recent journal “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” 

  1. Journal of International Affairs

Founded in 1947, the Journal of International Affairs is a leading peer-reviewed journal published by SIPA. It is the premier university-affiliated periodical in the field and has earned worldwide recognition for framing the heated debates that define global events and foreign policy. While submissions are written by academics and practitioners in international relations, political science, history and related fields, there is a student essay competition that SIPA students can enter. For more information about the Journal of International Affairs, view their website at jia.sipa.columbia.edu.

  1. Columbia Public Policy Review

Founded in 2015, the Columbia Public Policy Review (CPPR) is a student-run, free-of-charge, and independent forum that connects students and experts to the public policy debate in the United States and the world via online, events, and an annual print journal. You can visit the CPPR’s website at columbiapublicpolicyreview.org.

  1. APAC Journal

The APAC Journal is a periodical published by Columbia University’s Asia Pacific Affairs Council at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. Released annually by Columbia students, the APAC Journal is dedicated to fostering an understanding of vital issues through the exchange of professional and personal experiences spanning the Asia Pacific region. You can find copies of the APAC journal here.

  1. The Morningside Post

The Morningside Post (TMP) isn’t a journal, but SIPA’s online news outlet. TMP is the SIPA platform for students to share their voice, experiences, news, and opinions. Articles by students on course reviews, background stories, SIPA-related news, and topical debates are published. Some of my favorite TMP articles are the ones about the best pizza around NYC. For more information visit their website at morningsidepost.com.

Check out the websites above and perhaps when you’re at SIPA, you’ll see your name in an article byline!

"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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