Stories from Our Community

A Cross-Cultural Dual Degree Program

As an undergraduate student at the George Washington University (GWU), Mikaela loved living and studying in Washington DC and wished to stay in the nation’s capital after graduating from GWU. She decided that the next best step would be to earn a graduate degree. Academically, she was looking for a program for environmental and clean energy-related studies through an economic and governance lens.

When Mikaela came across SAIS’ dual degree program with Tsinghua University, she felt it would be a perfect fit. Her decision to attend SAIS was further cemented when she visited the school during its spring Open House for Newly Admitted Students in 2019, which she considers to be one of her most memorable SAIS experiences. The Open House was a wonderful opportunity for Mikaela to meet the school’s faculty, future classmates, and have the chance to experience the vibrant SAIS community.

Now a student at SAIS, Mikaela spent her first year studying at Tsinghua in Beijing, where she has taken a variety of energy, environment, finance, and economics courses. One area where she has advanced her knowledge is the initiatives under the carbon neutrality pledge that are paving the way for upcoming clean energy transitions. Through her studies, Mikaela often finds surprising overlaps among different subjects, which makes her appreciate the practicality and inter-disciplinary aspects of the courses she taken thus far.

In some regards, the online environment, due the pandemic, has posed challenges for Mikaela, such as having to wake up at 3:00 a.m. every Sunday to log onto Zoom due to time differences, but Mikaela believes that sometimes we all need to be pushed to get out of our comfort zones. Despite the physical distance, Mikaela has felt connected. In class, when professors mention events or organizations in DC, such as visits of foreign dignitaries, IMF’s annual meetings or the DC wastewater treatment plant, they evoke Mikaela’s experiences and fond memories of being in a city as dynamic as DC.

After graduating from SAIS, Mikaela will continue to work in the financing of renewable energy technologies. She is confident in the potential of renewable energy technologies and related industries to drive change, and she feels lucky to participate in helping to channel capital where needed to hasten clean energy transitions.

Learn more about our MAIR Dual Degree Programs.