Congratulations on your success as a regional finalist at NASPAA's climate change simulation competition earlier this year! What was that experience like?
It was wonderful -- having the opportunity to represent Baruch College and the School of Public Affairs among the elite universities in the Northeast.
As an MPA candidate, I love to see policy and negotiation in action. The NASPAA competition throws you into that environment by partnering you with a random group of students and giving you only the day to design effective models to solve global issues. It's a quick way of working, and the pressure is on to deliver! My take-away? In the public sector, you really have to work well with others or you won't succeed.
You went to Belgium earlier this year to participate in an Intensive Programme (IP) in Public and Private Debt at Ghent University. Tell us about your trip and the program.
Again, teamwork. I want to first thank the entire Baruch team that traveled to Ghent: Alex, Amanda, Christa, Colleen, David; and of course our advisors Angelina Delgado, Jeff Apfel, and Dean Birdsell. We put together a strong unit, and worked day and night to give a compelling presentation to our European partners.
It was remarkable to share with European colleagues in our field. Our approaches are just so different; Americans and Europeans can learn a lot from one another's systems, policies, and societal approaches.
The trip was focused on public and private debt in our respective countries – pressing issues – I believe we did a solid job representing the American perspective. The second half of the program switched things around a bit, creating new international groups tasked with demonstrating how much we learned from one another.
Along the way, we heard from colleagues representing quite a few European cultures – and I'm sure I created bonds that will last a long time.
We also had the opportunity (with the help of an amazing group from Ghent University) to discover the city of Ghent and a few other parts of Belgium! The culture, the food, and yes...even the nightlife. The fries are definitely amazing, and definitely do not call them French fries in Belgium! It was a two-week adventure well worth repeating: a session of hard, smart work, and inspiring fun.
To say that the Ghent IP broadened my horizons is a clichéd understatement.
What do you hope to do with your MPA? How does your wish to develop quantitative analysis and research skills factor into that?
I hope to get a job! But in all seriousness, my passion in sustainability. Sustainable energy, sustainable budgets, sustainable non-profits – making sure that the long-term strategy is there and that organizations are ready for tomorrow. What are we doing now (as a field, and as individuals) to ensure that we can confidently continue being effective in the future?
I think the technical analysis skills are a start in figuring that puzzle out by having a rational approach to public issues. As for specifics? I would love to end up in a rotational or research-oriented fellowship program; consistently tasked with new challenges, figuring out where I can develop most. Ultimately, I genuinely want to continue learning, always refining my views and discovering more.