Monday, July 18, 2016

Student Profile: Cecilia Emmanuel

Name: Cecilia Emmanuel
Program: GPP 2016
Occupation prior to SAIS: Export Regulatory Compliance Manager

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
In my search for a graduate school, I considered how well each school fits my life mission. I attended multiple open houses and reviewed course offerings for a number of Policy Schools. Though I found many with strong offerings, I kept returning to SAIS. The structure of their programs, the history as well as the location played a major role in my decision. Finally, after reading John Hopkins University’s mission the following words moved me, “…the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”  The mission of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has been my life’s pursuit. We must always strive to advance the societies in which we dwell. The Global Policy Program (GPP) is a part time (with a full time feel) program that allows me to continue the job I love while earning a degree that would ultimately propel my life mission- advocating for women and the aged.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?
Not surprisingly, Politics and Risk. This course explores the political risks involved in all decisions made in pursuing trade in the global arena. My professor is phenomenal and an expert in his field. As an advocate and authority on issues with failed states, Professor Kaplan pushes us to think beyond what is “typical”.  In his words “politics affects risk on many levels (e.g., international, national, regional, and local), and is the result of the interaction of many different elements.” He pushes us to understand the perspective of the other side and in doing so, we get a better perspective; what might seem as an injustice from one side may not be seen as such in the eyes of those closest to the issue. Everyone has a rational reason for their actions. This is a great lesson not only for politics but for life as well.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
Go for it! You will not regret the decision. SAIS has an amazing faculty of global experts and contributors to policy debates and decisions. In my program, I’ve been taught by the Dean of SAIS, professionals from the State Department and World Bank and the list goes on. The combination of professors from the academic and professional fields makes for an enriching experience. Don’t be overwhelmed by the readings and assignments; the professors expect a lot from you but keep reading and you’ll soon fall into the rhythm. As Dean Nasi advised, on our first day, the brain is a muscle and the more your read (exercise it), the easier it becomes. By the end of the program, you will gain a new sense of approach to your decisions and how you analyze incidents around the world.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
Don’t be afraid or overwhelmed. SAIS is indeed a community and the faculty and students are always willing to embrace and assist. Do not think that the “Strategy & Policy” class (which discuss military strategy and war) does not pertain to your overall degree or your country, it does. U.S foreign Policy is implemented by the multiple agencies including DOD; an understanding of the thought processes that produce the policy and the final action is necessary if we wish to maintain peace in the world. Finally, be open to learning from your class mates, SAIS provides an incredible learning environment and opportunity with at least 45% of that coming from my cohort.

What has surprised you the most being at SAIS?  
The people I have met and their willingness to share their experience and offer support. I have gained so much from our cohort and professors. I am lucky to be part of the inaugurating class and we have truly become a family. I have classmates from the State Department, various embassies, United Nations, World Bank, consultancy, media, non-profit and originating from every continent. It’s a melting pot of experiences, knowledge and diversity.