September 2018 Student Spotlight
September Student Spotlight with Walaa Elsiddig, MIA ‘19
Walaa Elsiddig works in media for the private sector but wants something more from her career so she can give more to the issues she is passionate about. In her spotlight she discusses her interest in child welfare abroad, her Sudanese background, and the degree and career she works toward in the Marxe Master of International Affairs program.
Tell us about your involvement in the MIA Club.
I wish I could take credit for this, but my fellow colleague, Kristen Glaude, has really spearheaded the MIA club. I spent most of the cultivation time, consulting Kristen and the team from the sidelines, and finally came on as the Treasurer, recently. I’m super excited for the club, because I think it’s important to get together as a cohort, and explore this vast field together, either through networking events or social gatherings as students. My classmates (Fall 2017) grew close and became each other’s support system during our first semester, and we think it’s really important to build that foundation for classes to come.
How did you decide you wanted to combine your magazine work background with the public and international scope afforded by the Marxe MIA?
I worked as a photo editor for a celebrity-facing magazine, following pop-culture and lifestyle stories. It was quite entertaining, and the access to pop icons was unbelievable. However, although entertainment journalism is where I focused my undergraduate studies, I knew I wanted to spend my career making impacts where needed the most (in my opinion), which drew me to the international non-profit sector.
When did you first become interested in child welfare in developing countries – especially in Sudan?
My parents are both from little villages off the banks of the White Nile in Sudan, and ever since 1996 (when I was 4 years old) I’ve spent my summers there. As I got older, I became more and more exposed to the hardships of the people, and more particularly orphaned children. Sudanese people pride themselves on hospitality, and extend their arms for families far and wide. With that being said, there is always someone willing to take in a family member in need, therefore for a child to end up in an orphan, is a product of a stigmatism of children born out of wedlock. The orphanage system in Sudan really isn’t built nor equipped to provide a stable foundation for orphan children to grow up and assimilate into society, and unfortunately these children aren’t given the proper voice to speak.
What are your long-term goals?
I would love to write policy for child welfare in developing nations, focusing on access to proper healthcare, education, as well as working to end child marriages — maybe work for UNICEF. Through my current job, I worked with Oprah and told her I wanted to start an orphanage in Sudan in the next 5 years, and she told me to contact her…so we’ll see.
Why Baruch, why the Marxe School, and why the MIA?
I’m a product of CUNY through and through. I attended Hunter College for my undergraduate, and attended classes at KBCC as a high school student as part of their College Now program. I love New York and I love the access to distinguished professors that the CUNY system has to offer, so when I knew I wanted to stay local for my Masters, I didn’t hesitate to think CUNY. It’s exciting to be a part of the first cohort of the MIA program, and although we’re both (administration and students) learning how to navigate this new program, it’s been a good ride. I think the faculty is so knowledgeable, and really connected to the field, that everyday in the classroom is an opportunity to network.