Spirits were high at this year’s SIPA graduation ceremony on May 22, which honored 697 students from 66 countries in seven academic programs.
Presiding over her first graduation ceremony, Dean Merit E. Janow said she expected the Class of 2014 to change the world.
“As individuals and as a group, we know that you are remarkable—and we know that you will have tremendous opportunities across the course of your careers,” she said. “I hope and expect that your SIPA education and the friends and experiences that you have at SIPA and Columbia in the great city of New York will shape your futures in critically important ways.”
Featured speaker Thomas E. Donilon, a former national security advisor to President Obama, told the members of the Class of 2014 they are entering “a high-impact profession” and encouraged them to use their talents in the public sector at some point in their careers.
“When governments make decisions, there’s nothing abstract about it,” he said. “Policy matters today as much as it ever has.”
Changing times and new technologies may have created new challenges but “they have not rendered policymaking a lost art,” Donilon said. He noted the potential of government to do tremendous good in a variety of areas—trade and economic policy, education, peacekeeping, infrastructure, and more—but said “this tremendous potential must be guided by intelligent policy and sure-footed policymakers.”
“The things we value most in this world—peace, progress, social justice, economic development—all depend on smart and dedicated people like you taking up the mantle of leadership and applying your insights to service,” he said.
“You should leave here today with tremendous confidence in your ability to lead an interesting life and to have a big impact,” Donilon concluded. “That’s because policy matters, the choices you make matter, and your talents have never been more in demand.”
SIPASA president Maria Covalenco-Tietz MPA ’14 spoke on behalf of graduating students: “These two years at SIPA have taught us that a union of bright and culturally diverse individuals… standing together can create meaningful experiences and one day build a more tolerant and united world.”
Roger Baumann IF ’84, MIA ’85, chair of SIPA’s Alumni Council, welcomed the new graduates to the ranks of alumni. He encouraged them to “stay connected” and said that fellow alumni “are eager to know you and eager to help you.”
Following the ceremony at the traditional site on Columbia University’s South Lawn, new graduates moved onto Ancell Plaza outside IAB for the traditional reception with family and friends.
New Alumni Celebrate Graduation 2014 [photo gallery]
Twitter timeline #SIPA2014