Student Spotlight

SIPA Student Profile: Leselle Vincent MPA DP ’22

Posted Oct 18 2022

Leselle Vincent is an MPA in Development Practice student at Columbia SIPA. From Trinidad and Tobago, Leselle spent three years with the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the Caribbean and supported the development and execution of projects to assist regional governments and private sector stakeholders with implementing chemicals and waste international Conventions. Leselle is focusing on sustainable development and resilience in the Caribbean through identifying and establishing effective global partnerships and engaging the diaspora.

Vincent MPA-DP ’22 was named among 15 'Lions of Social Justice’ From the Class of 2022 by Columbia University.

“I am a vocal student member on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Climate and Engagement Committee (DEICE) and the Working Group on Race, Inequality, Solidarity and Economics (RISE) at SIPA. I stress the importance of including learning on race and power in the curriculum to make students aware of how these topics shape global relationships, opportunities, and social justice. Three classmates and I developed and presented a proposal to the Academic Sub-Committee of DEICE, which jumpstarted the process of determining opportunities to integrate these topics in SIPA’s coursework. Additionally, as part of RISE, I supported the organization of a two-part workshop, SPEAK UP 2021, to engage students, faculty, and staff in learning to facilitate conversations on antiracism and understanding internal biases.

My colleagues, Jasmine McClam, Lindsey Streeter, and I founded SIPA’s first Black Graduate Students’ Union. This organization aims to promote an understanding of the problems and needs of underrepresented Black students at SIPA and the wider Black community and to provide a safe space for them.

I am passionate about reducing global inequalities and creating opportunities for marginalized and underserved communities, primarily because of my identity as a Black woman from a small island nation. I have seen how a lack of discourse on race and power dynamics in development and international affairs can result in a lack of understanding of the root causes of challenges faced by marginalized communities. Students at SIPA will become global leaders, so it is important for us to understand these topics to ensure that we can find meaningful and effective solutions.”