Riley Sandel has come a long way from that first day on IUPUI’s campus in 2018. Having earned an undergraduate degree in architecture, Sandel began designing and building a new future by earning a master’s degree through O’Neill IUPUI.
Sandel has used an O’Neill education to help communities better understand their own needs and potential by staying connected and listening to the people who live in those areas.
“You should be a member of the community first, and an expert second,” Sandel says. “If you don’t put citizenry and relationship-building first, you can easily produce poor policy or outcomes.”
That commitment to community-engaged policymaking earned Sandel a spot among IUPUI’s Elite 50 graduate students for 2020. It was a fitting end to a stellar master’s degree journey.
What was your reaction to being selected for an Elite 50 award?
“It was certainly a shock! I was nudged into applying by a faculty member at O’Neill and was happy to put my name in the hat among graduate students at IUPUI. Of course, with more than 8,000 graduate and professional students affiliated with our institution, it is very humbling to be recognized as a part of the 2020 cohort for the Elite 50 award. It is also great to be part of a group awarded this recognition for academics and extra-curricular commitments to community involvement, campus involvement, and scholarly work.”
What advice would you have for students who are considering a graduate degree from O’Neill?
“If you are considering graduate studies at O’Neill, I would recommend thinking through different options for how to best experience your advanced degree. From my experiences as an O’Neill graduate student, I learned some of the best lessons as a student and neighbor through engaging my education in conferences, seminars, community events, nonprofit committee and board service opportunities, and mentorships. Coursework is vital for a base understanding and several skills; however, exploring how to make your degree even better through extracurricular activities is a widely available option at O’Neill IUPUI.”
What has been one of your most memorable experiences with O’Neill as a grad student?
“During my first year at O’Neill, I was able to represent the school as a part of a team competing against other, regional MPA/MPP programs. The NASPAA-Batten simulations are annual events internationally challenging master’s students to engage timely policy topics. During my attendance, a five-student team of full- and part-time students traveled to Ann Arbor and used a simulation software application to engage the topic of forced migration.”
What are your plans after earning your degree?
“Following my graduation in May 2020 with an MPA in Urban and Regional Governance and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis, I will begin doctoral research at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. While attending Wagner, I will complete a Ph.D. in Public Administration and engage in critical research with the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. In addition to coursework at Wagner and research at Furman, I will also be part of the third annual class of Urban Doctoral Fellows at New York University.”