All FSI News Blogs June 7, 2022

A Look Back at Two Years as a Master's of International Policy Student

As the 2022 cohort of Master’s in International Policy students prepares to graduate, four classmates — Sylvie Ashford, David Sprauge, Shirin Kashani, and Mikk Raud — reflect on their experiences being part of the FSI community.
Students and faculty from the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy gather outside of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Encina Hall, Stanford University.
Students and faculty from the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy gather outside of Encina Hall at Stanford University to celebrate the end of the 2022 academic year. Meghan Moura

As graduation approaches, many of our students are looking toward the future and new opportunities beyond the Farm. For the members of the Class of 2022 in the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP), their time at Stanford was particularly unique. While they've finished their program together and in-person, the 24 members of the graduating class began their journey at the Freeman Spogli Institute for Internationsl Studies with a mix of online learning, outdoor classes, and health check requirements put in place to help mitigate the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Now at the end of their two years in the program we’ve asked four of our graduating students to share their thoughts on their time in MIP, what they’ve learned while at FSI, and where they will be heading next.

Sylvie Ashford | Starting with Questions, Not Answers

I am a co-term student, and I’m finishing up my B.A. in International Relations and Arabic at Stanford, with Honors in Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. I’m originally from Washington, D.C, and before coming to MIP I worked as a Middle East policy research assistant and campaign field organizer. 

MIP was exactly what I hoped it would be. The program brings together fascinating people from different countries and life paths. I learned so much from them in and out of the classroom, which ended up being one of the most meaningful aspects of the program. Particularly after spending the first half of the program on Zoom, I loved every time we were able to come together as a cohort for classes and social events this year.

Being a part of this community has definitely changed how I think about the process of policymaking. What I've really come to understand is that policymaking should start with a question, not an answer, and with a rigorous effort to understand a specific social problem in its own context. After graduation, I'm moving to San Francisco to work at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and I know that keeping that perspective in mind will be a huge help to me as I’m doing policy analysis and advocacy work to support the NRDC's Climate and Clean Energy Program.

Sylvie Ashford

Master's in International Policy '22, Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment (ENRE)
Sylvie Ashford

David Sprague | MIP Training, Military Service

When I first started as an MIP student, I didn’t realize how flexible the program would be or how many options there are to study in different fields. The program really emphasizes how to approach policy making through practical considerations, not just wishful thinking, whether that’s in computer programming and coding, international affairs, climate science, business, design thinking, or any of the other topics policy covers. There’s a lot of crossover with other programs on campus like the design school and the Graduate School of Business, I think this dynamic gives students a policy framework that's grounded in sound political strategies. 

It’s definitely been a busy two years. Beyond being a MIP student, I’m also an active duty officer in the U.S. army, and I have a family. I’ve been very appreciative of how I was able to work within the program to try and keep all of those different responsibilities in balance. This is the best location, hands down, to pursue a policy degree, and there are so many opportunities to get experience with things you truly value, whether that’s family, friends, researching a topic you have strong opinions about, coding, or surfing.

After graduation, I will be returning to the Army to be an operations officer, or a prime integrator, in organizations ranging from 700 to 10,000 soldiers. I know that what I’ve learned here at FSI in the master’s program — both about policy making and myself — is going to help me serve our men and women in uniform better.

David Sprague

Master's in International Policy '22, Cyber Policy and Security (CYBER)
Dave Sprague, Master's in International Policy ('22)

Shirin Kashani | Moving Forward, but Not Away

I am graduating this June, but I’m not going far! The program helped me realize my dreams to continue my career in academia, and so I will be pursuing a PhD in political science here at Stanford.

Part of the MIP experience is the one-on-one advisor matching that the program organizes for students. I was paired with Dr. Jeremy Weinstein, and he was so genuinely helpful and keen on setting me up for success. He met with me every two weeks to help me plan and prepare to be a competitive, successful PhD candidate after MIP.

For any students coming into the program, I would strongly advise you take advantage of how flexible the program is. The four specializations — Cyber, Environment, Governance and Development, and International Security — are there to guide you, not to put you in a box. Take courses from departments in your interests and customize your electives to whatever you think will help you. Don’t be afraid to go beyond what’s expected of you in the program to explore and make the best out of your two years on the Stanford campus!

Shirin Kashani

Master's in International Policy '22, Governance and Development (GOVDEV)
Shirin Abrishami Kashani, Master's in International Policy ('22)

Mikk Raud | Coming Full Circle

Prior to starting this master’s program, I spent eight years studying and working in Beijing and Hong Kong, where I most recently worked for a global risk consultancy, assisting multinational companies with assessing cyber risk, threats, and regulations, as well as crisis management. One of my goals here at Stanford was to pivot away from Asia and refocus my studies in cyber security and cyber policy in the U.S.

Because it’s right in Silicon Valley and so close to the leading industries, the MIP program here at Stanford was my top choice of school, and it has not disappointed. Aside from being able to closely interact with top faculty members and professors such as Frank Fukuyama, I got to see guest speakers such as President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, and other high-level U.S. military officials that Stanford has brought to campus to speak to students. I’ve learned so much from classes like “INTLPOL 340: Technology, Innovation and Modern War,” taught by Steve Black and Joe Felter, and groups like the Hack Lab.

As my time at Stanford comes to an end, my academic experience and industry experience are making a full circle, and I will be going to work with the global financial technology firm where I interned over the summer. I will be working on technology and information security issues while I am in the U.S. by using the one year of optional practical training (OPT). Given the current events in Ukraine and their proximity to my native Estonia, at some point I would also like to be able to contribute my skills and experience back home.

Mikk Raud

Master's in International Policy '22, Cyber Policy and Security (CYBER)
Mikk Raud


Capstones from the 2022 Class of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy

Each of the students in the 2022 class of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy has had the opportunity to practice policymaking and problem solving hands-on in the Policy Change Studio, the two-quarter capstone course of the MIP program. Each year, second-year students partner with NGOs, think tanks, and other groups around the world to get out of the classroom and into the world to bring their know-how to some of the world's most pressing issues.

To learn more about what the 2022 cohort has been working on, explore some of the capstone presentations below.

Taxes and Trash: Creating a Sustainable Taxpaying Culture in Tunisia

Emily Bauer, Soomin Jun and Kyle Thompson partnered with Wasabi, communications company in Tunis, Tunisia, working to understand the root causes of Tunisia’s large informal economy and find incentives for greater formal sector participation.

Connected Cafes: Narrowing the Employment Gap for Johannesburg Township Youth

Janani Mohan, Eli MacKinnon and Leonel Diaz worked with the South Africa branch of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on addressing the longstanding inequalities in the distribution of resources and services across different areas of South Africa.

Increasing Healthcare SMEs' Collective Resilience Against Ransomware

Eyal Zilberman, Chaeri Park, Me Me Khant and Mikk Raud were paired with the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) to identify ways the U.S. government can reduce the prevalence of ransomware attacks against public and private healthcare entities.

Decarbonizing Industrial Heat in the Indonesian Textiles & Apparel Sector

Sylvie Ashford, Calli Obern, Daniel Gajardo, and Sarah Baran have worked with a project run through the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to analyze market and policy barriers to decarbonizing industrial heat in Indonesia.

The Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy

Want to learn more? MIP holds admission events throughout the year, including graduate fairs and webinars, where you can meet our staff and ask questions about the program.

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Students from the 2022 cohort of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy have been working all over the world with policy partners as part of their capstone projects.

Off the Farm and Into the Field: Master's Students Practice Hands-on Policymaking

The 2022 cohort of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy has been busy this quarter getting out of the classroom and into hands-on policymaking with partner organizations in Tunisia, Estonia, India and beyond.
Students from the 2022 cohort of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy participate in the Policy Change Studio.

Where Our Master's Students are Making Policy Impacts in 2022

From women's health and reproductive rights in India to cybersecurity issues in Washington D.C., students from the 2022 cohort of the Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy are tackling big policy projects in the Policy Change Studio.
MIP Class of 2022

Meet the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy Class of 2022

The new cohort of MIP students kicked off an unusual fall quarter last week. Four of the first-year students describe what attracted them to the program and their hopes for the future.