Rachael Quah is from Singapore and she completed her MA in International Relations in 2015. She majored in Politics and Philosophy in her undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Where do you currently work and what do you do there?
I'm working in the Singaporean civil service and currently posted to the Ministry of Social and Family Development. My job involves working with underprivileged individuals and households to ultimately enable them to become self-sufficient. The courses I took in Development helped me to better understand the root causes of poverty, which are often systemic in nature. In addition, the internship component (which was integral to the program) provided me with invaluable work experience.
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
I chose this program because I’d heard favorable reviews of it from various academics, in terms of the program’s prestige and academic rigor. I also reasoned that NYU’s location in the heart of the city would give it unique resources that other institutions lacked, including access and connections to think tanks, internships and other international organizations.On all these counts, I wasn’t wrong.
Which has been the class you most enjoyed? And the one in which you learnt the most?
This is a tricky one, because I’ve had fantastic professors whose classes I’ve enjoyed tremendously. One particular class that stands out is Leanne Tyler’s Civil Wars class. I really enjoyed that one, because the subject matter was fascinating and Leanne established excellent rapport with the class. The class size was also relatively small, which conduced well to discussions and debate. Every week, we’d delve into interesting topics and she’d challenge us to critically evaluate the various readings. All of us in that class thoroughly enjoyed it. As for the class in which I learnt the most,Charles Freilich’s class on Mid East National Security immediately comes to mind. As someone who started out with limited knowledge of the region, I now have a better grasp of the geopolitical sensitivities in the Middle East – all thanks to him. He has tremendous experience in the field and has also authored multiple works on issues of regional security. His classes tend to be more lecture-based, and I’ve benefitted tremendously from them.
What advice would you give to future students of the program?
I’d advise them to take a quantitative methods course, if they have no prior background in statistics. It’s useful for the purposes of conducting independent research and also gives you a skill that is valued by employers. I’d also encourage them to exploit the full gamut of opportunities in New York, from frequent talks and workshops conducted by organizations like the Foreign Policy Association and Carnegie Council, to the citywide discounts available to NYU students.
What was your favorite place on campus?
I loved visiting Argo Tea at the Academic Resource Center because it has some of the most interesting tea-based concoctions I’ve come across. It’s a bonus that the lines there are never as long as the Starbucks at Faye’s. There are plenty of things I liked about student life at NYU. If I’d to pick one, I’d say it was the plethora of entertainment and dining options around the Village. There are plenty of quaint cafes and relaxed jazz bars that are perfect to unwind in.
What is the best thing about living in NYC?
I love the cultural vibrancy of the city, as encapsulated by the numerous museums, theatre performances and music events that run throughout the year. It’s hard to ever feel bored when there’s always something to do!