student Spotlight

November Student Spotlight with Nara Sainthil, MPA '16

November Student Spotlight 16

This past summer Nara Sainthil (MPA ‘16) had the extraordinary opportunity to travel to Chengdu, China for an unparalleled learning experience. Nara recalls what she learned about the Chinese economy’s meteoric rise over the past 30 years, her rewarding experience at the SWUFE Summer Camp, and what she’s learned working toward an MSPIA MPA.

You attended the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) Summer Camp in Chengdu and your goal was to observe how the province dealt with issues of unemployment and ensures equal distribution of resources to its people. Did you achieve what you’d set out to do? Tell us what you learned.
The lectures at SWUFE were extremely insightful and informative regarding the country's economy and business climate. It was astounding to hear of the country's rapid rise to strengthen its economy over the past 30 years. The government embarked on specific nationwide strategic initiatives in order to lift an estimated 500 million people out of poverty. One of which was the formation of several joint venture partnerships with multi-national corporations with the intention of transferring technological expertise to the Chinese. These strategies led to an increase number of jobs and technical skills. This is great, but one of the downside to China's rise is the issue of income inequality among the Chinese; a complex problem that is also prevalent in America. My study abroad experience broadened my perspective on the social issues that affect so many underserved Americans. It reminded me that these concerns for the most part are universal, making it that much more difficult and rewarding to address them.

What was your experience as a participant in this Summer Camp program like?
It was a truly unique and rewarding experience to be selected by Baruch to see China during the two weeks in July. Along with several other international students, I was able to participate and learn elements of Chinese business, economics and culture from the perspective of Chinese teachers and students. The country itself is so vast and rich with centuries of culture and history. I was able to witness first-hand this astounding beauty and significance on trips to Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Sichuan Opera, Qingcheng Mountain and the list goes on. And to top it all off, the food was amazing and extremely affordable; the program was located in Sichuan province, which is known for its cuisine.

What have you learned while working toward your MPA that has had bearing on the duties you perform as Deputy Director of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development?
Currently in my role as Deputy Director at the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), I oversee a number of community based organizations that are funded to provide programs for low-income individuals and families with the intent of improving their level of self-sufficiency. The MPA curriculum has enabled me to directly link the skills in the classroom with my work.

At DYCD, we are always looking for ways to determine the full investment of our efforts in the community. Is the intended target population being served? What does self-sufficiency really mean? Is our approach successful? Are the right organizations being selected to administer the programs? The MPA courses have refined my analytic and social awareness to be able to implement tools of measurement in order to address those very questions.

Baruch has provided excellent staff and suitable resources that will have a lasting impact on my career. For instance, as a Baruch student in November I will be participating in the 2016 Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management Conference (APPAM) that will focus on "The Role of Research in Making Government More Effective." It doesn't get more relevant than that; thank you Baruch.