July 20, 2017
Senior Nirvana Thakur is spending her summer at Princeton University taking intensive coursework and learning from former high-level diplomats on the international stage. All this through the Junior Summer Institute of the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program, a not-for-profit based in Minnesota.
The program helps students achieve a master's or joint degree, typically in public policy, public administration or international affairs, through intensive study at partner universities across the country.
"It's a great opportunity for me to meet more people from my intended field," said Thakur, of Bronx, N.Y.
The program squeezes an entire semester's worth of graduate coursework into seven weeks. Thakur is taking three courses at Princeton—statistics, economics and international policy—with speakers such as Johnnie Carson, the United States Institute of Peace; James Gadsden, former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland; Barbara Bodine, Georgetown University; and Francisco Varela Sandoval, Office of the President of Mexico.
"This program has given me a clearer vision of where my career is going to go," Thakur said. "I see the importance of us having to know how to use data and why I need to know economics, even though I might not be an economist myself, to understand the budget implications of policy that is proposed."
Students also have the opportunity to visit the White House and the Center for Transatlantic Relations.
Born in Nepal, Thakur hopes to either return to her home country to work on behalf of the Nepalese government, or work on behalf of Nepal from the United States.
Though she hopes to attend graduate school, her program of choice—Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs—does not accept students immediately after achieving their undergraduate degree.
In the meantime, Thakur is looking for other postgraduate opportunities within the Peace Corps or the Fulbright Program.