On June 12, faculty and students of the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP) program celebrated the 2021 graduating class. While the general commencement ceremony was held in-person at the Stanford Stadium, this marked the second time in MIP’s thirty-nine year history that its program-level graduation proceedings were held virtually.
The graduating cohort of 31 students originates from 14 countries, including India, China, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Lebanon, Austria, France, Spain, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. They were hosted at the online celebration by MIP Director Francis Fukuyama and Associate Director Chonira Aturupane, who were joined by FSI Director Michael McFaul and deputy director Kathryn Stoner. For both the graduates and their mentors, the proceedings were an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the class of ‘21 in overcoming the challenges of learning, collaborating and supporting one another while physically apart.
In his remarks, faculty speaker Jeremy Weinstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), acknowledged the importance of highlighting the positives from the last year, but also challenged the graduates to thoughtfully consider their personal relationship to the profound losses and inequity made apparent by the pandemic.
“For some, loss is an everflowing source of resentment. But for others, loss delivers recognition of all that there is to be grateful for. . . I humbly hope that a life full of gratitude comes to define your path forward and the choices you make,” Weinstein advised.
In a congratulatory note written to the graduating cohort, Tom Fingar, the Shorenstein Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), similarly encouraged the students to lean into the unique perspective they’ve gained from their experiences during this year.
“This year was extraordinary in many ways, but the disruptions and coping mechanisms of the COVID pandemic may be more indicative of the world you will inherit than the one we are leaving behind. Discovering new ways to do normal things has prepared you for whatever comes next as well as or better than any other experiences and accomplishments might have. Go forth with confidence that you are ready for whatever lies ahead.”
For most of the MIP graduates, what lies ahead are careers in government, the military, technology, clean energy, law, diplomacy, and research which will take them afield to Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Texas, Florida, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belgium, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates in the coming months. For some, there are a few more years of school as they work to complete joint degrees in additional areas of policy and governance.
For all, the shared experiences of the last fifteen months have created a unique bond. Corie Wieland, a graduating second-year student and the president of the International Policy Student Association, affirmed to her fellow graduates that, “Whether in one month, one year, or ten years, all of us will always be merely a Zoom call or group chat away. No matter the time zone or the country, our friendships have already proven true.”
That commitment and gratitude to the MIP community is shared throughout the Class of ‘21. Anna Nguyen Yip, a specialist in cyber policy and security, says that despite the upheaval of the past year, she feels prepared to move out of the classroom and into the world.
“As I am graduating from Stanford, I am more confident than ever to embark on the next chapter of my career,” said Nguyen Yip. "This has been the perfect opportunity to combine my passions in education, frontier technologies, and public policy. I will be eternally grateful for the amazing experience I had at MIP.”
Representing 14 different countries, the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP)