2020-2021 Contributors

Monica Vega Herrera, MIA ’21
Concentration: International Finance and Economic Policy
Specialization: Latin America Region
Hometown: Dalton, Georgia

Monica is an MIA candidate born in Mexico and raised in Dalton, GA. Monica has completed internships with the House of Representatives, U.S. Embassy London, and the State Department’s Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs. After briefly working in the private sector, she came to Columbia to expand on her undergraduate studies of economic policy and foreign affairs. At Columbia, she has worked as the Financial Assistant for the Institute of Latin American Studies and serves as the Treasurer for the Migration Working Group. As a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow, Monica will be joining the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer upon graduation. Her intention is to work on economic issues in Latin America. Her particular areas of interest are Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Brazil.

In her free time, Monica enjoys finding new running trails, making music playlists, and reading memoirs by powerful women. One of her favorite quotes is “Bloom where you are planted”. Her advice for prospective students is to take advantage of every opportunity they get and to talk to as many current and former students about their personal grad school experience to better inform their academic decisions.

Zawadia LeFang, MPA ’21
Concentration: Urban and Social Policy
Specialization: Technology, Media and Communications
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Zawadia LeFang is a second-year MPA student from Kenya and Cameroon. In 2017, she graduated from Occidental College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in English. During undergrad, Zawadia performed economic research on Ghana’s maternal mortality rates and health facility utilization, served as a programming assistant at Occidental College’s Intercultural Community Center, and served on the campus Diversity and Equity Board. After participating in PPIA JSI at Princeton University (Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute) she decided to pursue a graduate degree focused on policy.

Prior to SIPA, Zawadia worked in economic consulting on antitrust and litigation matters. She chose to attend SIPA because she hoped to connect with students from around the world interested in just and sustainable practices. After graduating in May 2021, she plans to explore opportunities in policy analysis, social enterprise, and corporate social responsibility.


Sevita Rama, MPA-DP ’21
Technology, Media and Communications
Troy, Michigan

Sevita Rama is a Troy, Michigan, native who is currently in her second year of the MPA in Development Practice at SIPA, specializing in Technology, Media and Communications.

After graduating from Rice University with a BA in Cognitive Sciences and Policy Studies, she worked in North Africa on economic development projects with various NGOs and local implementing organizations for four years, and developed a passion for supporting rural communities through food systems.

She believes greatly in the power of community-based storytelling and is continuing to build on this interest at SIPA. In 2019-2020, Sevita was a Foreign Language and Area Studies scholar for Arabic and the Middle East/North Africa at Columbia.



Tenzin Dawa Thargay, MIA ’21
: Energy and Environment
Specialization: Double specialization in East Asia & U.S.; Weatherhead East Asian Institute Certificate in Chinese Studies
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Tenzin Dawa Thargay is a first-generation Tibetan American from Boston, Massachusetts. Before SIPA, Tenzin researched intersections of protest and energy as a Fulbright Scholar in Seoul, South Korea. He is a University of Massachusetts Amherst ‘18 graduate, earning dual degrees in political science and Chinese; he was also the undergraduate commencement student speaker. As a U.S. Department of State Rangel Fellow, Tenzin will enter the U.S. Foreign Service to serve as a Foreign Service Officer after graduation.

His most rewarding SIPA experience was participating in the Energy and Environment concentration Practicum and working with a team of four students to evaluate Mercy Corps’ Pay-As-You-Go solar financing projects in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi Refugee camp. Outside of SIPA, Tenzin is a Peer Advisor for Seeples Group B, Co-Director for the ‘21 Columbia Energy Symposium, research assistant for the Center on Global Energy Policy, and sits on the Diversity Committee. He loves playing tennis anywhere, going to K-town for all-you-can-eat BBQ, and going to Queens for Tibetan food.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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