After working in Chicago and Madrid, Angela To brought her professional skills to the History Department at Columbia. There, she discovered Columbia’s Critical Issues in International Relations C.P.A. Offered as part of Columbia Summer, the immersive graduate-level program provided To with valuable skills and insights for building a career in academia and international relations.
What drew you to Columbia’s Critical Issues in International Relations CPA?
After graduating from DePauw University with a bachelor’s in Spanish and then working on a congressional reelection campaign in Chicago, I decided I wanted something more stable. So I worked a nine-to-five office job for about four years. When I started to realize I didn't have to confine myself to just one place, I made the decision to move to Spain. While living in Madrid, I taught English at a high school and earned my master's in International Education from The University of Alcalá.
After three years there, I moved to New York to work as the Ph.D. Administrator of the History Department at Columbia, where I learned about the amazing C.P.A. program. The course took place during the summer, which meant I could further advance and accelerate my professional career while still working full time.
How was the learning experience?
I cannot praise enough the academic experience I received. In just the four classes I took, every one of my professors cared deeply about the subject and all of their students. Most of the classes were virtual, but that never took away from the outstanding quality of instruction or the overall experience.
What was the greatest skill you took from the program?
The most valuable skill I took from the program is the ability to read and study a substantial amount of assigned material from many different viewpoints, synthesize the main ideas, and figure out how it all ties together.
Overall, what was the most impactful part of the program? Any course highlights?
The instructors were the most impactful; they care a great deal about their students. The UN and the Challenges of Peace course with James W. Rawley was amazing because we learned so much about his firsthand field experiences while working at the UN. He also brought many renowned guest speakers from the UN to the class. Arthur Boutellis' UN and Maintenance of International Peace and Security course was also outstanding because of his invaluable career insight and advice, especially for those of us who were considering pursuing a career with the UN. You could tell both instructors were deeply passionate about what they were teaching and it was truly infectious and inspiring.