Postbaccalaureate Studies student Tanusha Satavalli joined SPS in the fall of 2019. After graduating from University of Connecticut in 2014, where she majored in biological sciences and minored in English, she has worked as an Officer of Research Administration at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center but always wondered: “Is there a ‘next’ in my academic career?”
Finding flexibility and the opportunity to explore her interests in the Postbaccalaureate Studies program at SPS, Satavalli knew she wanted to join a “global community of students of all backgrounds united in an elite and open-minded setting.” Recently, Satavalli was accepted to the M.S. in Sustainability Management program and will start the next chapter of her studies in the fall.
We caught up with Satavalli to learn more about the program and what’s next in her academic career:
What was your experience in the Postbaccalaureate Studies program like?
It was invaluable and incredible. I met professors who showed a compassionate and genuine interest in how the students are learning, growing, and progressing.
I met several international students from a variety of experiences and backgrounds; I was easily able to relate to them and discuss important social and environmental issues in several parts of the world. The guidance and the tools provided by our professors made our learning experience challenging and highly rewarding. We gained the confidence to take on new assignments and pursue new avenues of growth.
What were your favorite courses? What was the biggest takeaway for you?
One of my favorite courses from the Post-bac program was “Delivering the Strategic Message” by Professor Matthew Frederick. He created an open and honest environment, where students with varying levels of communication felt comfortable standing in front of the class and delivering presentations about global topics that they felt passionate about. He gave us the right communication tools equipping us with unwavering confidence. One of the most valuable takeaways is the supporting community and friendships that we created in this class that I know I’ll have for a lifetime.
Professor Frederick is interested in the career development of his students and has helped all of us in class. I recently reached out to him to be a reference for my application to the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program. I was accepted to start in the Fall of 2020. When I was preparing for my video essay component of the application, the skills from Professor Frederick’s course were crucial in helping me.
How did this coursework help you in your career/academic goals?
“Delivering the Strategic Message,” allowed me to prepare more effectively and efficiently during times of high stress in my full-time role as a Subaward Officer for the Research Administration. I am able to create spreadsheets and agenda items much more efficiently in time pressured situations as a result of the tools I gained from this class. I never feel unprepared at work anymore, because I am now able to draw upon the learnings of the class and my previous knowledge in responding to pertinent issues.
In my youth I remember being told I needed to improve my presentation skills; after this class I have a much better grasp of how to utilize my nerves, organize my thoughts, and successfully deliver a powerful presentation.
What advice would you give to future students in Postbaccalaureate programs?
On the whole, immerse yourself in the experience of the program and apply yourself as much as possible by taking yourself outside your comfort zone whether this is by talking to your peers about their experiences or volunteering to present first in class.
After [Delivering the Strategic Message], I have a much better grasp of how to utilize my nerves, organize my thoughts, and successfully deliver a powerful presentation.
I would encourage future students to really take advantage of the flexibility in this program. The courses are made so that you can align them with your interests, become a better person, a better learner, and a better influencer to your community.
The resources are there, you just have to find them and take advantage of them. Maybe the most important advice I can give you is if you’re ever confused, don’t be afraid to reach out to the professors, the TAs, and advisors as they are always there to guide you and help you.
What are your hopes for the future? What's next for you?
I hope by continuing to engage with the faculty at SPS while undertaking my Master of Science in Sustainability Management degree in the Fall of 2020, I will grow in my career, and achieve my personal goals of improving our society and environment.
I also want to be a mentor in any way I can, to help future students find their footing. It’s important to take the lessons we learn and help people as much as possible. I truly try to live by that.
I want to have a positive impact on the world, and I would like to thank Columbia University SPS for helping me develop a part of the foundation I need to achieve this lifelong goal.
Learn more about the Postbaccalaureate Studies program at Columbia University School of Professional Studies.