Admissions Blog

Program Assistant Introduction: Reena Mensingh MIA '24

By Reena Mensingh '24
Posted Sep 12 2023

Note from Admissions: We're excited to welcome our new group of program assistants (PAs) working with us here in the SIPA Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. They’ll specifically be helping you through the application and decision process over the next few months through answering your emails, calls, and writing relevant blog posts to help you during this admission process.


Reena Mensingh is a second year MIA candidate concentrating in Economic and Political Development and specializing in Leadership, Innovation, and Design. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Reena holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from the University of Western Ontario. Reena is an international Dual Degree student with Sciences Po Paris, and pursued International Governance and Diplomacy during the first year of her masters program. Before pursuing her current academic path, Reena had a background in neuroscience and kinesiology. Even throughout her shift towards political sciences and away from studying the human body, she continues to maintain a strong passion for medicine and health, and is especially interested in the effects of climate change on global policies.

What attracted you to SIPA and Columbia University?

I was inspired by SIPA's commitment to interdisciplinary education, which is evident through the required core, concentration, and specialization streams. Structuring a graduate program with this formal instills in students the desire to explore multifaceted challenges from various angles. I believe that leveraging this interdisciplinary approach is critical to develop a well-rounded perspective on the issues I intend to tackle in my career aspirations beyond graduate studies. Not only are students challenged to apply analytical thinking to different disciplines, but they become better global citizens and are able to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds and different disciplines.

Do you have any tips for applying to the Dual Degree programs?

When it comes to the application process, a key piece of advice is to deeply understand your personal motivations. Approach your essays as if you are crafting a compelling story that not only resonates with the reader but also defines a critical problem. Then, take the opportunity to showcase how Columbia's School of International and Political Affairs (SIPA) stands out as the perfect place to equip you with the tools necessary to address and solve that problem.

In the context of a dual degree program, this advice becomes even more critical. You must delve into your own motivations and articulate why the combination of these two master's programs is indispensable for achieving your specific post-graduation goals.

What are you most excited about at SIPA?

I'm absolutely thrilled to immerse myself in courses that align so closely with my career aspirations. I am very excited to leverage SIPA's course offerings and equip myself with the essential skills and knowledge to excel in my professional journey. There is something incredibly satisfying about knowing exactly what was missing from my knowledge-base, and choosing courses to fill those gaps; it’s an active process of putting the puzzle together. I'm eagerly anticipating the deep and enriching academic journey that lies ahead.

Also, the privilege of living, working, and studying in Manhattan is truly amazing. The unparalleled access it provides to the global epicenter of international politics and diplomacy is nothing short of remarkable. After just a few weeks of living here, I can confidently say that New York City will always have my heart. The city's sprawling natural environment and parks are as integral to its character as its iconic skyscrapers. From surfing at Rockaway Beach, to free music in Central and Bryant Park, I'm eagerly awaiting the prospect of continued personal growth alongside my studies in this vibrant and awe-inspiring metropolis.

What is one common characteristic among your peers at SIPA?

As an international school, diversity is integral to SIPA, with students with a wide spectrum of personal, professional, and academic backgrounds. However, one commonality unites SIPA students—the tools for effective leadership. Within this community, composed of both seasoned and emerging leaders, students are driven by an innate desire to make meaningful contributions, exhibit empathy toward individuals with diverse backgrounds or opposing perspectives, practice active and non-judgmental listening, and communicate clearly and effectively with people from divergent professional and academic backgrounds.

Does SIPA include any opportunities to travel?

The Methods-Capstone course, required for the Economic and Political Development concentration, is structured around real-world case studies. During the Capstone phase, student teams partner with external organizations to drive sustainable development initiatives within a designated global region. One advantage of this course is the potential for students to embark on on-site travel and actively engage in project work on-site during the semester. This hands-on experience promotes immersive and practical learning, and can allow students to apply their SIPA knowledge and grow valuable networks abroad.