When I started last August in the MPA Program at WWS, three weeks of math camp was just enough time to get to know everyone. Finally, the faces linked with their names.
That "girl who sat next to me at lunch" became Laura who had attended her childhood summer camp with my former colleague. The "guy on crutches" became Mike, a returned Peace Corps volunteer with a civil engineering background. And the list went on from there.
During math camp, we had D-bar, the bar in the basement of the Old Graduate College, to ourselves and the run of Robertson Hall. My fellow MPA1s were my people.
When the MPA2s (the second year/returning MPA students) began trickling back onto campus, I wondered how long it would take before I got to know them. I knew the Woo had a reputation as a close-knit community, but I was still surprised at the speed with which the connections between the two classes were made.
Over the past months since the start of the program, I've been welcomed, befriended and guided by excited MPA2s at every turn. I've attended meetings of the Students and Alumni of Color (SAOC) and the Gender Policy Network (GPN) where I immediately felt valued and heard by the MPA2 leaders. My intramural badminton team captain (yes, I play on both a women's and mixed badminton team – everybody be cool) is an MPA2, as is my student field advisor. A group of MPA2s organized a lunch at a local Indian restaurant for all MPAs of South Asian origin. I attended a meeting and later chatted individually with MPA2s to talk about their summer internship experiences in preparation for my own internship next year.
I am so grateful to be in a program where I can be in close contact and communication with those in the year above me via both intentional and organic opportunities. They enrich my learning and enliven my social experience. They are my people, too.