A SPIA Perspective: Mid-career MPP

Dec 03 2022
Ali Alleile

Before joining the SPIA MPP program, I ran an independent media outlet, which consisted of several human rights researchers involved in the documentation of various violations. I also ran a non-profit organization that operates in northeast Syria. The work I conducted over ten years motivated me to gain additional sills—academically and professionally—so I could make a bigger difference for more people. For me, there was only one place to do this: Princeton SPIA.

I believed in the program, and I am grateful they offered me a seat with the rest of the MPP students from many different backgrounds from all around the world.

I arrived at campus in July 2022. Despite the many difficulties I faced before I arrived at the university, I was focused on the big prize, which was joining the program. The summer program lasts for six weeks, during which I acquired a lot of new skills concerning microeconomics and statistics. Even though the summer program was tough, it was still full of activity, vitality, and deep knowledge. Furthermore, the administration did not leave us alone; they were constantly inviting us to many social activities and providing us with all sorts of support.

The MPP program in general and starting the summer camp specifically for students who have been out of school for a long time is a great idea. The summer provides a runway of sorts into the academic year that pours different skills and exposes students to different faculty and subjects. It’s a great way to get back into the classroom before the rigor of the fall term. It was exciting to be in community with colleagues from multiple backgrounds. The subsequent semesters build on the experiences we share in the summer. 

Thereafter, the fall semester begins in earnest. I took five courses in the field of international relations, including those related to national security, public policies, immigration, non-profit organizations, and decision-making. The professors you work with are – for me – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they are just a tiny part of why I am so grateful to be at Princeton.

I remember very well when I arrived at Princeton: Steven Petric and Dean Amaney had organized various activities for us and told us this year would pass quickly. Indeed, now that we only have one semester left, I can see just how quickly it time passes. And just how much I have learned.

I am still not sure where I will go after graduation but am confident in the support SPIA provides on career development. Still, the new identity that I have belongs to Princeton University, a place for which I am very grateful from the moment of admission and will be long after graduation. The experiences that I have only received in my life in this place: practical experiences, a significant refinement of knowledge, and building self-leadership in ourselves to help our communities more effectively. I feel very supported.

The admissions team uses the phrase, “Princeton is possible” when speaking to prospective students about the community and about applying to the school. I am a testament to that. Good luck to all who are applying for admissions.