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“Getting a Master’s Degree Has Been My Dream”

Mika Halpin Hasanah, a full-time student from Jakarta, Indonesia, was sponsored by her employer, the Financial Services Authority of Indonesia, to study at Columbia in the Human Capital Management program. In our interview, Hasanah talks about being a full-time student in the program, the community she has found at SPS, and the experience—as a mother—of deciding to leave home to pursue her dream of earning a master’s degree. Excerpts:

What brought you to Columbia? 

I had no background in human capital management. In my undergraduate education, I studied IT and computer science. This program caught my interest because I can improve my human capital management knowledge and skills. At Columbia, I knew I would be surrounded by and learn from knowledgeable individuals and that it would open many doors for me.

Can you tell us about your capstone project?

My team analyzed Meta (previously Facebook). It's very interesting at the moment because they've been shifting their business strategies for the last year. We examined how their business has changed and how that impacts their human capital strategies. We also work in teams for the capstone, so I’ve been able to learn from others as well. We each have our own strengths, so we came together as a great team.

Speaking of your team, have you found a community within SPS?

Absolutely. I feel a sense of community, especially within my cohort. My cohort is a couple of dozen people, so we feel very close to each other. For example, a few days ago we went to an Indian restaurant. We take turns tasting every kind of food from each other’s homes. We went to an Indonesian restaurant and then a Brazilian restaurant, because there was another student from Brazil. It’s been fun. I also received support from the Career Design Lab and my career coach Diane Spizzirro. She helped me with my résumé. 

What has it been like to be a parent while pursuing a degree?

I’m a mother of two, and in Indonesia, when you become a mom, there is the mindset that you’re finished with school. Most mothers don’t pursue higher degrees of education. Getting a master’s degree has been my dream since before I was married, but when I had children, I postponed my dream for about ten years. Now that my children are older, I decided I can pursue this. 

So I just want to say to mothers, you can still pursue what you want. Pursue your dream. It’s even more rewarding because it sets a good example for your kids. I want to make my kids proud and see—“My mom can achieve anything.” I want to show them that you can do whatever you want.

Because I’m studying at Columbia, some mothers at my institution back home have become more confident in the idea of pursuing a degree. A lot of my friends have consulted with me since I’ve been at Columbia, and now many are starting school this fall. I’m very happy about that. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in New York City?

There’s a balance between work and play and between nature and the big city. It’s been joyful for me to cycle, walk, and run in Central Park and Riverside Park. It’s a beautiful view of the Hudson and the city. I’ve also been to concerts and ballets.

I even like public transportation! You can go anywhere. You can estimate your time of arrival better than in Indonesia. There are a lot of traffic jams back home!

Learn more about the M.S. in Human Capital Management program.