Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Student Profile: Priyali Sur

Name: Priyali Sur
Program: MIPP 2016
Affiliation: Energy, Resources, Environment (ERE)
Hometown: Kolkata, India
Former Occupation: Journalist

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
When I decided to take a mid-career break from journalism and pursue academics, I wanted to be in an environment that blended academics and professional skills. SAIS provided that perfect combination for me with its professors and faculty from the industry and with the school located in Washington DC, the center of policy-making and international affairs.

SAIS also offered a varied range of courses and areas of study, which was a perfect fit for me. As a journalist who has reported in India, I wanted to focus on strategic studies in South Asia and how U.S. foreign policy impacts that region. Also having worked as a consultant at the World Bank in the Energy and Water department, I wanted to major in ERE. SAIS offers a unique concentration of ERE which focuses on key global issues of climate change, environment resources and energy. The ERE concentration helped me understand not just the basics but also crucial issues that can be applied to my current work.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I’d like to continue working in the field of international relations and policy, be it in journalism or with other multilateral organizations. Being at SAIS, has given me the opportunity to study in depth country policies and also do a comparative analysis of successful and ineffective policies in different regions. I have also been fortunate enough to learn from the best in the industry. SAIS brings the best and the most experienced faculty and through the readings and class assignments students are prepared for the professional world. In my concentration of ERE, most of the assignments - drafting policies - required me to work in groups or individually on critical and current issues. This also involved interacting with and learning from government officials, policy makers and corporate organizations. All of this has prepared students including me to feel more confident and better prepared for our future endeavors.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
For students coming from outside the U.S., SAIS offers great scope for networking and good internships since it is located in Washington DC. With most think tanks such as Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, all situated at a stone throw distance; it gives students the opportunity to attend important talks and sessions even during a busy school day. My suggestion would be to make the most of SAIS’ location and start networking and forming professional connections right from the start. Also with a lot of SAIS alumni based in Washington DC it helps students connect with many SAIS working in their area/field of interest.    

What are you most passionate about?
Human rights issues with a deeper focus on gender rights, has been a passion for me ever since my reporting days. Through storytelling and documentary film-making I have tried to highlight the most pressing issues that pertain to women and human rights in conflict. A better understanding of government policies and local initiatives is very important in this regard to present the big picture. SAIS and the curriculum here has helped me immensely in getting a deeper and more coherent understanding of issues I am passionate about.