Five Minutes with: Preeya Saikia


***A note from Ms. Saikia: All views expressed are my personal views and are not necessarily the views or the position of the Administration or the Government of the United States of America. Thank you.


1. You have been working in the Office of Management and Budget and we wonder, when you first applied to the PSM program, where did you imagine your degree would take you? 

I pursued an MPA at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership because it was my understanding that in order to advocate powerfully on behalf of the public I needed to further my education.

When I applied to the PSM program, I was two years out of my undergraduate program, during which I spent some time working at a human rights advocacy firm in Cambodia. I was inspired to make this trip because by the time I had my diploma I decided that a career in the public sector or social services would best fit my values. My training in economics prepared me to approach problems analytically, but I wanted to learn how to approach problem solving through a macroscopic lens.

My MPA experience certainly added to my ability to think critically, but it also taught me how to evaluate policy ideas and articulate abstract concepts, and it provided me with ample practice to hone skills to work well on a team, which is fundamental to my job.

2. You’re living and working in DC during a time of great change. Can you tell us a little about what that means for your department and the work you do? Can you tell us a bit about where you hope your current experiences will take you in the future?
My immediate plans after this Administration are to look at career opportunities at the local and state government level, as well as management consulting for public and social sector clients.

Have you seen A New Light in Harlem?

Do you know a young person who wants to be a leader in public service? Get access to world-class preparatory coursework and field experience without amassing piles of debt? Are you a scholar, educator, or community organizer looking to break down walls between the Academy and the surrounding community? Who knows that in order to find better answers to pressing questions of the 21st century, we need to hear more voices? Watch and learn more about the mission of the Colin Powell School—”A New Light in Harlem.”

Our original upload to YouTube got over 600 views in just a matter of days! We had to do a *tiny* bit of clean-up, so we uploaded a new version (click below).

The film features interviews with General Colin Powell, Dean Vince Boudreau, and faculty, students, alumni, and board members, spotlighting the amazing community we have up here on the City College campus.

Do you know a young person who wants to be a leader in public service? Get access to world-class preparatory coursework and field experience without amassing piles of debt?

Are you a scholar, educator, or community organizer looking to break down walls between the Academy and the surrounding community? Who knows that in order to find better answers to pressing questions of the 21st century, we need to hear more voices?

Watch and learn more about the mission of the Colin Powell School—”A New Light in Harlem.”

 

Ten Ways the Black Community and Their Allies Can Transmute Pain Into Power

In the coming days after the Zimmerman not guilty verdict, many will cry, some will wallow in despair and disbelief while others will take to the streets.

Million Hoodies protest in NYC, Union Square
Million Hoodies protest in NYC, Union Square

by Kanene Holder 

[Former Colin Powell Fellow and activist Kanene Holder wrote the following piece for the Huffington Post days after the George Zimmerman verdict was handed down. It can be read as both a manifesto and a balm for wounds that run deep through many Americans.] 

“You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being.” — James Baldwin

Hang onto the world as it spins around
Just don’t let the spin get you down…..
Keep on walking tall, hold your head up high
And lay your dreams right up to the sky……. 
Donny Hathaway

In the coming days after the Zimmerman not guilty verdict, many will cry, some will wallow in despair and disbelief while others will take to the streets. In each instance, we are forming a more perfect union as we realize that #ajmia — American Justice is MISSING in Action. We realize we can no longer satiate our humanity in the trivialities of Twitter followers and Instagram likes. We are searching for justice, as we pursue happiness.

Continue reading “Ten Ways the Black Community and Their Allies Can Transmute Pain Into Power”

Social Justice for the Classroom: Part 2 of a Two-Part Series

In my previous post, I suggested we must capitalize on the momentum of social justice movements aided and propelled by social media. How, I asked, can we educate our youth and emphasize to them the possibilities for “doing good” through the technology they use every day?

For those taking up this question—activists, educators, artists, and others—this is an exciting time. Never before have we had access to so much information and ways to share ideas and our stories. As an educator and activist, I am empowered by these tools in conjunction with the new Common Core Education Standards emphasis on teaching nonfiction: It’s a perfect opportunity to re-emphasize current events and civics education. And so I created the American Justice Missing in Action Project (#ajmia), (www.ajmia.tumblr.com) a new initiative dedicated to engaging students in conversations about race, class and gender—what I call the intersections of injustice.

technology in the classroom is a tool. Photo by Dell; used under a Creative Commons license.By Kanene Holder, Center Alumna

“The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” —Alvin Toffler

“I think the first duty of society is justice.” —Alexander Hamilton

In my previous post, I suggested we must capitalize on the momentum of social justice movements aided and propelled by social media. How, I asked, can we educate our youth and emphasize to them the possibilities for “doing good” through the technology they use every day?
Continue reading “Social Justice for the Classroom: Part 2 of a Two-Part Series”

Center Alumnus Ethan Frisch: Working for Change in Afghanistan

Colin Powell Leadership Alumnus Ethan Frisch (2006–2008) is now working in Afghanistan with the Aga Khan Foundation, a humanitarian organization. We recently followed-up with Ethan to learn more about his work, goals, and trajectory.

efrisch_crop_vhColin Powell Leadership Alumnus Ethan Frisch (2006–2008) is now working in Afghanistan with the Aga Khan Foundation, a humanitarian organization. We recently followed up with Ethan to learn more about his work, goals, and trajectory.

What are you doing in Afghanistan?
I’m working for the Aga Khan Foundation–Afghanistan as the national program coordinator for engineering, helping to oversee the administration of grants dealing with physical infrastructure and engineering projects in northern Afghanistan. I’m based at AKF’s headquarters in Kabul, working closely with our regional teams and traveling regularly throughout the five provinces in which AKF works. Continue reading “Center Alumnus Ethan Frisch: Working for Change in Afghanistan”

Turning Points at Princeton: Three Views of Hydrolic Fracking

On September 11, 2012, Sela Hong and I (Yoo Jin Lee) took a trip to Princeton University to attend a panel discussion on hydraulic fracturing. The discussion was a part of ongoing series called Turning Point, which the Princeton University Alumni Corps organized. The event featured three guest panelists: Jeff Rosalsky ’85, executive director of Pocono Environmental Education Center; Eric Clark, director of student participation in Learning Aquatic Science and History (SPLASH); and Seamus McGraw, author of End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone, and an activist and educator on the subject of hydraulic fracture. Our primary reason for attending was to learn more about fracking, which was the topic of our capstone project as colin Powell Center leadership fellows at the City College of New York.

Fracking involves the use of chemicals that are linked to serious water contamination in several states. Photo courtesy creative commons by Helen Slottje.

By Yoo Jin Lee (with Sela Hong) Center alumni

On September 11, 2012, Sela Hong and I took a trip to Princeton University to attend a panel discussion on hydraulic fracturing. The discussion was a part of ongoing series called Turning Point, which the Princeton University Alumni Corps organized. The corps is an alumni-operated organization that provides support to Princeton alumni interested in influencing their community through leadership and volunteerism. The event featured three guest panelists: Jeff Rosalsky ’85, executive director of Pocono Environmental Education Center; Eric Clark, director of student participation in Learning Aquatic Science and History (SPLASH); and Seamus McGraw, author of End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone, and an activist and educator on the subject of hydraulic fracture. Our primary reason for attending was to learn more about fracking, which was the topic of our capstone project as leadership fellows. The audience included current Princeton students, alumni, and organization representatives.

Continue reading “Turning Points at Princeton: Three Views of Hydrolic Fracking”

Alumni Profile: Savanna Washington ’10

Maura Christopher, director of communications, (left) greeting Savanna Washington (right) at the 2010 New York Life Symposium on Civic Engagement.

“Is there a place for me in the Powell Center?” I get this question from prospective students frequently, but none ask with more frequency than the students studying Media Arts.  They wonder aloud if it is possible to successfully connect their passion for film, television, and performance with their interest in policy and service. That is when I tell them about Savanna Washington(Graduate Powell Fellow ’10).

Continue reading “Alumni Profile: Savanna Washington ’10”

Former Fellow Don Gomez Heads to the Army’s Ranger Leadership School

Former Leadership fellow Don Gomez reflects on his recent graduation from the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course as he prepares to enter Ranger School, an intense combat training course.

don-gomez-ranger-school
Don Gomez having the Blue Cord pinned on by his wife. Photo: Courtesy of Don Gomez

This post originally appeared on Carrying the Gun, the blog of former leadership fellow Don Gomez (2008-2010).

OCS
IBOLC
Ranger School
Stryker Leader Course
PCS

This week I graduated from the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (IBOLC). I’m now branch qualified, meaning I can go on and do my job as an infantry platoon leader. Next up is Ranger School, an intensive two month combat leadership course. Continue reading “Former Fellow Don Gomez Heads to the Army’s Ranger Leadership School”