A day in the life of
a MCEPA student
In a Q&A complementing our Flickr tour of a day in the life of Charlie Vest, the 2019 MCEPA candidate paints a picture of what attending GPS looks like today
Jan. 30, 2018 | By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
Tossing around his
“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!”
Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado, his interest in China grew out of a desire to travel and live abroad during his freshmen year at Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins. After connecting with a great teacher, he wound up majoring in international studies, with a focus on China.
As part of the first incoming class of Master of Chinese Economic and Political Affairs (MCEPA)
Check out our Flickr album for the full story.
What drove you to GPS to pursue your MCEPA?
“During my sophomore year at CSU, I studied abroad at Beijing Foreign Studies University and completely fell in love with China. After graduation, I worked as an English translator for a while, until landing a job at the China Energy Storage Alliance in Beijing. It was a really interesting place to be at, working for a trade group as a researcher in clean energy.
It was actually a GPS alumni and mentor from my study abroad program, Brian Eyler MPIA ‘05 who currently works at the Mekong Policy Project at D.C. Stimson Center, that turned me onto the program. My Dad also lives here, so it was a soft-landing pad to choose San Diego!”
What is your specialization track and why did you choose it?
“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues since the beginning…China has amazing biodiversity and NGOs. Most of my academic work in the Chinese environment track so far has been on decarbonizing China's power grid. I study how to make institutional changes, make the grid more efficient and how to use wind and solar more efficiently.”
The Chinese government has been proactive, with the largest installation of wind and solar power. They are investing a lot in trying to clean up the air…it’s a really great time to be working on these issues.”
Is there a particular class or professor that already has made an impact on you?
“I have really enjoyed Professor Barry Naughton’s class on the social and economic development of China. It was a great introduction to the tools and framework to understand China today.
It gives a great overview of the economy since the early 1980s. I mean he literally wrote the textbook on China’s economy, it’s hard to beat that for your professor!”
Is there one facet of the program that has been most challenging?
“I would say the quantitative element of the program, as I come from a more political science background. However, when working at China’s Energy Storage Alliance, I realized I needed these skills to make me more employable.
It is definitely preparing me to work in an environmentally-focused NGO or private sector cleantech consulting job post-graduation.”
What motivates you to come to campus every day?
“In my MCEPA cohort, I am the only American. All of my colleagues are from Hong Kong and mainland China. I am learning stuff from them every day. Really interesting perspectives on an academic level.
The relationships are mutually beneficial, as I love asking questions and learning from them. It’s a really great relationship and connection. I also have been enjoying the Friday China Research Workshops. It’s a great way for us to learn about research from visiting scholars.”
What’s your favorite neighborhood in San Diego?
“I live in Ocean Beach (OB). I love the mellow neighborhood. When I’m not at home studying, I’m hanging at New Break Coffee. It’s definitely the best neighborhood in San Diego. It’s a great little beach town. I also love going to the dog beach. While I don’t have a dog yet, I can get my fix while I’m there!”
Amid your rigorous academic schedule, in what ways do you strike a work-life balance?
“While I grew up landlocked, I have the benefit now of living close to the beach, so I get a chance to surf whenever I can. It’s been about a year and half and I absolutely love it.”
- A message from Dean Cowhey on COVID-19
- A gift to enhance U.S.-China relations
- Reflections of a harrowing journey through China's turbulent revolution
- A day in the life of a teaching assistant
- Ensuring diversity and inclusion
- Deploying mangroves to fight climate change
- Alumni-nominated spotlight: Alisha Tomita-Yu ’16 of Oracle
- Student group puts focus on China
- Decoding the Hong Kong protests – and more
- Is the MPP the right degree for me?
- Through knowledge we gain understanding
- Mapping a cleaner San Diego
- A day in the life of a NCAA Woman of the Year Honoree
- Nirupama Rao defines the future of Indo-Pacific relations
- Winter reading for the bibliophile
- Alumni-nominated spotlight: Booz Allen Hamilton consultant Maura Deignan
- Leading from the front
- Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies expands research on drug war and migrant crisis
- A marriage of policy and advocacy
- Decarbonizing the grid
- Sylff Fellows translate vision into reality
- Stanford study finds poor air quality responsible for one in five infant deaths in sub‑Saharan Africa
- Office hours: Associate Professor Jennifer Burney
- Class of 2018 graduates embody global citizenry and leadership
- Science Policy Fellows program nurtures effective interdisciplinary scholars
- Building cross-border relationships
- Geoengineering a greener future
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Adnan Saygili
- Celebrating academic excellence
- Painting the picture of an MPP student’s day
- Gregory Lee looks at the future of digital health and technology
- A sustainable seafood hero
- Pass the pen: Alumnae nominated spotlight
- Campus recognizes alumni as leaders and changemakers
- Innovation in mobile technology
- Ian Johnson chronicles the rise of religion in China
- Writing the book on China’s economic policy
- Broadening horizons through international experience at BCG
- Office hours: Professor Gordon McCord
- New evening option for working professionals
- China's infrastructure investment as a development strategy
- Rethinking the war on drugs in Mexico
- Creating theoretical frameworks
- Nurturing future leaders at TechPolis
- The future is female
- Jamal Russell Black on Veridian Analytics' entrepreneurial spirit
- Love is in the air
- A day in the life of an MCEPA student
- Health and human capital
- Eduardo Porter finds journalistic inspiration at GPS
- Technology assessment at the nexus of STEM and policy
- IGCC receives coveted UC research grant
- Battery storage at the center of energy policy
- Researching how humans and the environment interact
- Office hours: Professor Ulrike Schaede
- Fighting wildfires with web based imagery
- United we dream
- Our 2017-2018 Boren Fellows
- Applying game theory to study behaviors
- Students craft views on climate change at COP23
- Molding future technical experts
- Why GPS: A niche in life
- The art of entrepreneurship
- Solar energy and pursuing the policy dream
- Social entrepreneur and first time author Ken Davenport ’90 of “The Two Gates”
- Why GPS: Discovering a passion for all things math
- Our 2017-18 Dean’s Fellows
- A Living, Learning Laboratory
- A ‘Prep Program’ for success, before day one
- Office hours: Professor Gordon Hanson
- Adding to a truly interdisciplinary academic environment
- Why GPS: Apply now and figure it out later
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Noritoshi Kurokawa
- West Coast-Trained for a Washington, D.C. Think Tank
- Linked in Latin America
- Facilitating a ‘family affair’
- Nico Ravanilla retreats to Oxford for research
- 2016 alumni remember their first year in the real world
- Pioneering international excellence
- Research at the border: A living laboratory of transformation