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Combining Theory and Practice

“I’m really thankful for Columbia – I’ve been able to meet so many wonderful students, learn from so many wonderful professors, and get mentored by some of the greatest people on earth.” —Mark Jamias CC’17

Mark Jamias CC’17, a political science major from Suffolk, Va., originally thought he would study abroad during his junior year, but when an internship position at the United Nations opened up, he jumped on the chance to learn more about peacekeeping efforts around the globe.

As part of a pilot program that allowed interns to sign on as contract workers, Jamias became an office management specialist during his senior year at the College. Jamias said one of the most exciting aspects of working at the U.N. was the chance to attend the General Assembly, where world leaders convene in New York each September.

While working at the U.N. on contract, he frequently ran into Jean Krasno, lecturer in political science, who taught “The UN: Past and Present,” a class which Jamias said deepened his historical knowledge of the institution when he took it in Spring 2016. When he saw her at the UN, “she’d take time to chat and grab coffee or introduce me to whomever she was with at the time,” he said.

His time at the College also allowed Jamias to further expand his interest in the political situation in the Catalonia region of Spain; he studied for three semesters with Elsa Ubeda, lecturer in Catalan, developing both a fluency and passion for the language. “That was one of my fondest experiences,” he said. “The classes were small, the professor was enthusiastic, and it became like a family.”

Jamias, who in the fall will enter his fifth year at Columbia as part of a dual program with the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), will continue to study economic and political development as well as international conflict resolution as he works on a master’s degree. He then plans to apply for international teaching fellowships.

In His Own Words

“Columbia really gave me those opportunities, because if I were anywhere else, I simply wouldn’t be in the city during the year. It’s nice to work at the U.N. and also come back to academia. I started to take more classes about the U.N., and then I was basically learning the same stuff I was doing, but looking at it through a very critical, rigorous academic lens. And that is really refreshing, because there is a crisis in political science about theory versus practice. Columbia allows space for that thought to happen. I’m really thankful for Columbia – I’ve been able to meet so many wonderful students, learn from so many wonderful professors, and get mentored by some of the greatest people on earth.” —Mark Jamias CC’17


Corinne Lestch SOA’18 is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has worked for the New York Daily News, where she received a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and is currently getting her M.F.A. in creative writing at Columbia's School of the Arts. She received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University in 2010.

Last updated Monday May 22, 2017

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