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Sam Lane – April 2017: Six months in and a glass half full

By ucqnafe, on 12 April 2017

MPA student Sam Lane reflects on 6 months of his degree at UCL STEaPP.

I cannot believe that as I am writing this post, we are halfway through the MPA. It is a thought that has been actively repressed by many of the cohort for fear that eventually, the course will come to an end and we will inevitably part ways. So, this blog post serves two purposes. To recount the activities of the second term, and reflect on the first half of the MPA.

Sam at Professor Arthur Petersen’s Inaugural Lecture, March 2017.

To the regular readers of the blog, you were luckily enough to indulge in a special post on our trip to the World Government Summit in Dubai, so I will spare that highlight in deference to everything else that has gone on this term.

First of all, Trump. On a course geared towards science and engineering, he isn’t the obvious point of departure for discussion. However, he has featured heavily in our Evidence, Institutions and Power classes (taught by Professor Yacob Mulugetta and Dr Carolin Kaltofen), generating lively discussions, and maybe even a publication – watch this space, it’s going to be HUGE. This term also saw us learn how to code. We are not just trained as traditional policy analysts relying on cost benefit analysis, oh no, we are trained for the twenty-first century, and that means coding. The analytical methods class also gave an insight into spatial, network and multi-criteria analysis, and we even gazed into the future with foresight techniques. We also began our electives, and UCL offers a fantastic range of disciplines to delve into, but time away from STEaPP seemed to make us appreciate it even more. The extended client projectsare underway, with all teams making a good start to the process.

On the cohort news-desk, we found out Xi Zhu was accepted to study a PhD in Theology at Oxford University. Eliana Camargo Nino was so successful at the World Government Summit (Dubai) Sustainable Development Goal Workshops that she has been called to New York to pitch the winning idea. Patricio Barrera Valdez has brought his work to London and is organising a high-level Mexican Energy Summit at UCL. While Diego Pedraza Segura, was personally invited to several exclusive Chevening events.

However, the term moved fast. Covering all that content in that time has left our brains frazzled and bodies exhausted. At times, it was a bit of blur with January feeling a lifetime away. A change in format from the four-week courses to ten-week modules was welcomed, but that did not slow the pace down. Breakdowns came as thick and fast as the deadlines.

But we were buoyed by a relentless barrage of motivational memes on our group chat to keep us in good spirits. Without a doubt, it is the comradery of the other students which keeps us going. It is fair to say these are no longer just ‘course’ friends but friends for life instead. In six months, I have learnt so much about the others and myself which I have not experienced in the past. During the induction week, when Dr Jason Blackstock said “you’ll learn more from each other than we can possibly teach you”, he was right. And if these six months are a sign of things to come then bring it on.

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