Student Stories

Our students lead a rich life, and they do so in a diverse, inclusive environment. Here is a sampling of our student, so now alumni of GPS, profiled in stories and news articles.

A day in the life

This Q&A series, complemented by a Storify, is designed to tour a day in the life of a student to paint the picture of what attending GPS looks like today.

A day in the life of a remote student

May 29, 2020 | By Virginia Watson | GPS News


MPP student Ama Debrah shares what her life looks like while UC San Diego students are learning from home. Read here



A day in the life of a teaching assistant

March 18, 2020 | By Virginia Watson | GPS News


If you ask UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) student Aimee Barnes to choose a word to describe her life, she’d probably say “busy.” 

Raised in rural Kelseyville, California, Barnes said she was drawn to UC San Diego “because it was the school in the UC system with the best reputation that had a location that I actually loved.” Read here

The life and times of an MPP student

March 19, 2019: featuring Gustavo López, 2020 MPP candidate

Gustavo LópezAt the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), we are leaders in addressing the crucial challenges facing the border. Attracted to the school’s prime location, Gustavo López has always been interested in the complex issues of immigration. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, but raised in Indiana, he was thrilled to attend a school that was highly international, interdisciplinary and coastal for this Midwest transplant.   

“I came to the school because I really wanted to improve my quantitative skills and research. Working in Washington, D.C., I saw the importance of facts and data,” said López. “Situated at the busiest border in the world, GPS offers a unique opportunity to do immigration research.” Read here

A day in the life of a MIA student

Oct. 29, 2018: featuring Juan Sebastian Herrera, 2020 MIA candidate

Juan Sebastian HerreraCommitted to serving his country and his people, Juan Herrera’s graduate school dreams started early as an advisor to the Ministry of Culture of Colombia and programmatic advisor for the presidential campaign of Humberto de la Calle Lombana. Realizing the need for advanced study in development and economics, he applied to GPS.

After his leadership experiences in Bogotá, Herrera realized the impact he could make on his country and how a Master of International Affairs (MIA) degree from GPS could inspire and fuel his passions. Read here

Painting the picture of an MPP student’s day

May 30, 2018: featuring Yi Wu, 2019 MPP candidate 

Yi WuA champion of table tennis, you can always spot Yi Wu on the top floor of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s (GPS’s) student lounge. An avid fan of sports, Wu likes to stay active – from badminton to skiing and gym time at RIMAC. After visiting San Diego on a family trip, she fell in love with the culture of the city. As an undergraduate labor and social security major, Wu was eager to expand her studies into the global arena, as well as experience American life as a Master of Public Policy student. Read here

A day in the life of a MCEPA student

Jan. 30, 2018: featuring Charlie Vest, 2019 MCEPA candidate 

Charlie VestTossing around his jianzi (think Chinese hacky sack), you can usually spot Vest in the quad at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), with his signature shades and Chuck Taylors, all smiles. “I started playing it when I was in China. Traditionally it’s a children’s playground toy,” laughs Vest. “Yet old people, like me, are also really great at it…the game has something for everybody!”  Read here

A day in the life of a BA/MIA student

March 10, 2017: featuring Jeanne Marasigan, 2018 BA/MIA candidate

thumb-news-marasigan.jpgOn a day toward the tail end of winter quarter, the student body government at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) is gathered in the dean’s conference room. The words “lame duck” are thrown out in the banter preceding the official GO GPS meeting. Though used jokingly, the term is somewhat appropriate. The group is in transition, with the old administration ushering in—or initiating—the newly elected. As such, this meeting begins with an icebreaker entailing questions and goofy rules to answer them. Eventually, all eyes are on Jeanne Marasigan. Read here

A day in the life of an MPP student

Jan. 12, 2017: featuring Shadi Matar, 2018 MPP candidate

thumb-news-matar.jpgOn an unusually dreary day in La Jolla, Calif., Shadi Matar is staying dry on the top floor of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy’s (GPS) newly renovated study spaces. With fellow classmates, he’s comparing notes from Associate Professor John Ahlquist’s Policy Making Processes class, a required course of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program in which he’s enrolled. Read here

A day in the life of a Ph.D. student

Sept. 12, 2016: featuring Luke Sanford, Ph.D. candidate

thumb-sanford.jpgJust a stone’s throw from the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), Luke Sanford is in his office on the third floor of the Social Sciences building on campus. A poster hangs on the wall beside his workspace that resembles the alphabet, but it’s statistical terms. A is for average, B is for boxplot, C is for correlation and so forth. Read here

A day in the life of a GSR

June 17, 2016: featuring Maya Reynolds, MIA '17 

news-reynolds.jpgClinks of bats to balls and other utterances from the UC San Diego softball team’s practice echo up toward the patio of Peet’s Cafe, situated a short walk away from the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). Maya Reynolds, 2017 MIA candidate, is staring into her laptop, only recognizing the chatter from the field below when she breaks her gaze to raise a pen and write in a notebook. Read here

A day in the life of an MAS-IA student

March 10, 2016: Brian Foster, MAS-IA '17

Brian FosterPositioned on top of Pangea Parking Structure, the preferred parking for the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), Brian Foster puts the kickstand down on his blue Suzuki Marauder. Despite the “block O” emblem on his helmet that represents his undergraduate alma mater, Foster could pass as what many consider a typical graduate student at UC San Diego. But like most of his fellow MAS-IA classmates, he isn’t. Read here

A day in the life at GPS

Dec. 14, 2015: Emily Foecke, MIA '16

Emily FoeckeThe longest table at Home Plate, UC San Diego’s popular campus eatery, is packed. Sunglasses and notebooks are strewn atop it, and backpacks and purses are slung on chairs. Assistant Professor Lauren Prather is opting to hold her final Political Economy of Foreign Aid class of the quarter outdoors against a mountainous backdrop versus inside with a whiteboard—it’s almost finals week, after all. Among the students seated at the table are Emily Foecke, master of international affairs candidate 2016. Read here

Why GPS?

As part of an ongoing series, we give students the creative liberty to opine on their favorite memories from the School and “why GPS” is a solid fit to pursue their graduate education.

Why GPS: A niche in life

Nov. 20, 2017: featuring Ha Pham, 2019 MPP candidate

news-pham.jpgI have the confidence to believe that we all refuse to witness future generations condemned to a planet which is beyond fixing. Therefore, environmental science, specifically environmental modeling, became my sole choice for an undergraduate field of study as it fit my desire to prevent environmental deterioration. Nonetheless, I learned that the stream and drivers of policy, and policy itself, was the major key to changes and development of nations. With my new background in environmental sciences, I decided to get involved in the policymaking process to be able to manage human activities and their effect on the natural world. Read here

Why GPS: Discovering a passion for all things math

Nov. 1, 2017: featuring Bryce Thomson, 2018 MIA candidate

Bryce ThomsonIn 2014, I graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a B.S. in International Business Administration and a B.A. in German Studies. Wanting to improve my German and see some of the world, one week after graduation, I moved to Germany where I worked at a bank. A few months later I moved to Austria where I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a tiny town in the Alps. I spent two years in Austria where I fell in love with teaching and was convinced that was what I wanted to do with my life. Read here

Why GPS: Apply now and figure it out later

Sept. 6, 2017: featuring Frederick P. Hemans, 2018 MIA candidate

Frederick P. HemansTruth Time: unlike most students at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), I did not have any idea of what type of graduate school and career I was looking for. I had zero criteria, nor an idea even what constituted a quality graduate program in the first place. Why did I apply to GPS? Because it is in San Diego, where I was also located. Was it serendipity? Probable random chance, aided by the Google search algorithm likely directed me to the GPS website. I then signed up to take the GRE one afternoon after work, and over the next few weeks I completed the necessary steps for the application process. Read here

Why GPS: Finding solid ground after years overseas

Aug. 3, 2017: featuring Philip Voris, 2018 MIA candidate

Philip VorisI started at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) in fall 2016.  Ten years prior, I had embarked on an overseas journey, finally closing the book on my short career as a dot-com engineer. I had studied mass media and wanted to understand it from the inside, which I did. However, I also had studied language and politics, with the hope of someday teaching. It was time to get out and understand the world. Read here

Why GPS: Pursuing a different tune

July 3, 2017: featuring Adriel Taslim, 2018 MIA candidate

Adriel TaslimIt was a rather interesting turn of events that led me from my undergraduate studies in violin performance to international affairs. As part of a select group of highly trained musicians, I was sent abroad to perform in Europe several times. As it turns out, some of the concerts in which I performed were also sponsored cultural outreach missions from the U.S. Embassy. Seeing the far-ranging influence and impact of international missions piqued my interest in international affairs. Read here

Why GPS: A career-switcher’s guide to data science

June 14, 2017: featuring Anton Prokopyev, MIA '17

Anton ProkopyevMy professional career started rather early. I landed my first job as an action sports journalist while I was still attending high school. Somehow, I now am in the field of data science. While it was a long path, the key answer to how I arrived here is simple: GPS. Apologies for a bad pun! Read here

Why GPS: A cross point to connect the dots

May 9, 2017: featuring Shunichi Muto, 2018 MIA candidate

Shunichi MutoThe UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) is a place I can connect all of the dots in my life. Now, I’m not trying to sound like Steve Jobs. This expression just best describes what GPS is to me. When I was pondering master’s programs, I struggled finding what defines me and my academic interest — I’m a Japanese guy studying Spanish in the U.S., with knowledge of economics, statistics and conflict resolution. There seemed to be no program which fully matched my diverse background and academic interests. Read here

Why GPS: Finding the awe in other ways of life

April 14, 2017: featuring Juan Pablo Feregrino, 2018 MIA candidate 

Pablo FeregrinoWhilst I found myself in the midst of what I called the “Japanese Jumanji,” I realized my true passion is to be challenged by new ideas and to experience new cultures and ways of life. I developed a taste for this while working in San Francisco as a sales consultant for the Latin American region. On a daily basis I spoke with individuals from different countries and geographical settings. Read here

Why GPS: A place to call home in a foreign land

Feb. 15, 2017: featuring Meghna Jain, 2018 MIA candidate

news-meghna.jpgIt was always a dream of mine to study abroad, travel and meet new people. Growing up watching American shows and movies, I was able to vicariously experience the American lifestyle, but wanted to live it for real. The U.S., therefore, was a top destination for me when I first started thinking about my higher education. While exploring different universities and programs, I was focused on not only a strong economics foundation, but also a multidisciplinary facet in terms of a quantitative and international focus. Read here

Why GPS: Going beyond expectations

Jan. 12, 2017: featuring Dana Kozhakhmetova, 2018 MIA candidate

news-why-gps-kozhakhmetova.jpgWhat I expected from graduate school and what I received was far beyond my expectations. I spent three years after graduating from Moscow State University gaining work experience and meticulously choosing my next place of study. Going to graduate school is no doubt a serious choice worth big financial and time investments. When making such decisions, one has to be 150 percent sure about the purpose and added value of the school. Thus, choosing a right school was a big deal for me. Read here

Why GPS: Genuine support for your future career

Dec. 5, 2016: featuring Samuel Huang, 2018 MIA candidate

news-huang1.jpgComing from a small liberal arts college, I knew participating in a diverse and close-knit community was essential to my education and what I wanted to do in life. Learning about the cultures of international students and the lived experiences of those at the margins of society motivated me to pursue a career combining international affairs and public service, thus bringing me to the MIA program at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). Read here

 More Student Stories

Sponsored Student Spotlight: Ha Pham

August 2019: International Students and Programs Office spotlight on Ha Pham. Read the Q&A here.

Prepped for Success

Sept. 26, 2018: Incoming students reflect on the GPS Prep Program and how it has helped them navigate academics and career aspirations before day one of the school year. Read here.

Sponsored Student Spotlight: Adnan Saygili

June 2018: International Students and Programs Office spotlight on Adnan Saygili. Read the Q&A here.

Our 2017-18 Dean’s Fellows

Oct. 23, 2017: Three students selected as GPS’s 2017-18 Dean’s Fellows share their experiences that qualify them for this special distinction. From fathers to humanitarians, our fellows are more than just distinguished scholars. They are leaders in the field, inside and outside the classroom. These global citizens at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) have proven their commitment not only to academic excellence but meaningful engagement in the U.S. and around the world. Read here.

Sponsored Student Spotlight: Noritoshi Kurokawa

September 2017: International Students and Programs Office spotlight on Noritoshi Kurokawa. Read the Q&A here.

Sponsored Student Spotlight: Duangruetai Surasakjinda

March 2017: International Students and Programs Office spotlight on Duangruetai Surasakjinda. Read the Q&A here.