Admissions Blog

Week in the Life of a SIPA Student

By Elliot Mur '24
Posted Dec 05 2023

Week in the Life

Thanksgiving has just passed, and I took a moment to relax, spent time with my family and friends, and explored NYC and all that it offers during this time, including the Macy’s Parade. But back at SIPA, as the end of the semester looms and finals quickly approach, I’m here to offer you a glimpse into SIPA's student life.


Every Monday, on my way to the SIPA Admissions Office, I stop by the Pret A Manger, to pick up a coffee through their subscription plan that offers 5 coffees a day, for 40$ a month! I pick up my cappuccino and arrive at the office. Once settled in and having caught up with my colleagues, I open the admissions inbox and begin answering the many, many, emails that prospective students have sent over the weekend. To make my workload easier, make sure to have read this blog and others that might have the answer to your questions.

At lunch, the Human Rights Working Group student organization, of which I am Co-President, hosted a coffee chat for board members to discuss with other students about classes, professors, and the cross-registration process to help them prepare for Spring 2024 class registration. We provided bagels and coffee for all those that attended!

After the event, I headed back to the office until closing time. I then head to Publique Cafe in the International Affairs building to catch up with my friends before heading to my Human Rights Research and Reporting class. In this course, I am learning about a wide range of human rights research and reporting that is done, familiarizing myself with methodologies, and preparing to participate in the field. After finishing class, I head home to do readings and homework for next day’s classes.


Before November, I used to head into the UNICEF office as a part of my internship that began over the summer. Now though, I get to rest at home or head into the admissions Office to do some work processing applications. In the afternoon, I have two classes - Children and Armed Conflict and Climate Campaigning Reimagined. My first class aims to introduce students to the  impact of armed conflict on children, the United Nations’ children and armed conflict (CAAC) mandate, and efforts to end and prevent children’s suffering. It’s a great continuation of what I’ve been exposed to through my internship with UNICEF in child protection. This week’s session is all about Advocacy on Children’s Rights, we were lucky to have as a guest speaker Jo Becker from Human Rights Watch. Professor Jo, spoke of efforts to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, using as an example her work on successfully campaigning for an international treaty banning the forced recruitment of children under age 18 or their use in armed conflict.

After this course, I head to class with Professors Adam Met and Mila Rosenthal, that teaches how campaigners can turn “what can I do” into “what can we do?” and ultimately “what can we do that will make the biggest change?” For this course, each student is required to develop a campaign on an issue of their choice. I am addressing the plans of the French government to construct biomass plants in French Guiana that would ultimately lead to the destruction of the forests and the displacement of Indigenous Peoples. Our latest assignment was an Influencer Memo and together we went through individual submissions to provide feedback.

On Tuesday evening, the Human Rights Working Group, hosted an event on Children Rights in Conflict. The event focused on the impact of conflict on children’s rights. We were joined by three professionals in the field of children’s rights where they were able to share their experiences in programming and advocacy.

After the event, I joined a zoom call, where my group and I finalized our report and presentation for the Inside the Situation Room course!


At lunch, I attended a Policy Roundtable with IGP Carnegie Distinguished Fellow Sir Stephen Lovegrove. Sir Stephen Lovegrove was the UK’s national security advisor, with oversight of the UK’s security, defense, and intelligence capabilities on behalf of the prime minister. Lovegrove also served as permanent secretary for the Ministry of Defense and for the Department for Energy and Climate Change. As an IGP Student Scholar, I am fortunate to learn from the IGP Distinguished Fellows and attend events such as these!

In the afternoon, I headed over to Altschul auditorium in the International Affairs Building to attend the Inside the Situation Room lecture with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Dean Keren Yarhi-Milo. This lecture covered issues arising from political crises, including how the United States (and other major powers) can help democracy movements through a bottom-up approach while ensuring stability.


I head to my 9am discussion class for Inside the Situation Room, as this week I have my group presentation for the course. As a requirement, all students must submit a post-mortem that includes a comprehensive analysis of the foreign policy decision from the perspective of what decision-makers did well and poorly, applying the theories and insights from the class to trace the decision makers' logic. My group decided to analyze the removal of Jupiter Missiles from Turkey during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We presented our case and analysis to the class and received feedback for it.

After the course, I run to Pret to get a coffee and then head to the Office of Admissions to answer emails and calls. I also met with a student who had questions about the admissions process and student life. If you haven’t already, you can meet with Student Ambassadors, or the Admissions team. Make sure to check it out! 

In the afternoon, I attended an event at the Law School with Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch who presently serves as the Israel and Palestine Director at HRW, where he investigates human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

After the event, I headed to College Walk for the Tree Lighting ceremony. I got some free merch as well as some food and hot chocolate!


Friday is a calmer day, I was able to enjoy the morning and get a head start on any of the assignments due in the coming weeks.

At 1pm, I log into zoom to attend a course I am taking at the Mailman School of Public Health addressing Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies. This course explores the structural, social and political factors that contribute to the existence of gender-based violence and which lead to an increased occurrence of acts of gender-based violence in complex emergencies, including conflict zones and natural disasters. One of our requirements requires the analysis of a real-life based scenario and to apply the concepts and theories learned in class to design a GBV response. I highly recommend cross-registering courses with other schools!

After class, I met with my Capstone Team as we finalized our work plan in preparation for our meeting with the client. I am excited to be working on the Watchlist of Children in Armed Conflict project.

After my capstone meeting, I am able to rest before heading out to meet my friends and enjoy my weekend in NY!