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Creating a Custom Education Through the Four-Course Certificate

photo of Tessel

Tessel Koopal
Four-Course Certificate

Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree and completing an internship at the Bretton Woods Committee in Washington DC, Tessel had a few months left in the United States before moving back to Europe. She was interested in pursuing a short-term academic program that would allow her to develop specific expertise in her area of interest: global environmental governance and public/private sustainability efforts in the wake of the Covid-19-induced global financial crisis. While researching programs in the US, the SAIS Four-Course Certificate program immediately stood out to her. Due to its flexible design, Tessel was able to create her own academic program that was fully in line with her interests, but also the opportunity to pick a few courses outside of her comfort zone. This sparked many new interests! Furthermore, SAIS’ world-renowned faculty and alumni network also strongly appealed to her.
Although there have been many highlights to her SAIS experience, something Tessel has valued has been the opportunity to meet and hear from all of the inspiring guest speakers that have frequently joined her classes to give insider perspectives on particular subjects or projects. Being able to have unfiltered conversations with highly distinguished and respectable professionals has been a unique experience. Tessel has also really enjoyed SAIS’ approach to experiential learning both in and outside of the classroom. This includes not only the many negotiation simulations and role plays as part of her courses but also the annual SAIS Crisis Simulation in which she participated as a member of Team USA. These experiences allowed her to put into practice her knowledge obtained during her courses and develop skills that a lecture could not teach. It was also a great opportunity to engage with fellow SAIS colleagues. 
Furthermore, Tessel believes that the SAIS experience is truly one of a kind, and this is mostly due to the school’s vibrant student body. Tessel has had the opportunity to meet people with a wide array of backgrounds and from all corners of the world. During conversations both inside and outside the classroom, everyone brings in different perspectives and experiences which creates diverse and interesting discussions. Tessel can say that those discussions have taught her almost equally as much as the lectures. The SAIS student body is an open, ambitious, and inspiring cohort who Tessel is sure will all make great future leaders and have a positive impact on the world.
Next to the student body, the SAIS faculty has also been extraordinarily committed to helping their students, whether that is in or outside of the classroom. All of Tessel’s professors have been very open to meet with their students one-on-one to discuss coursework, future career/network opportunities, or anything else. As a graduate student, these are extremely valuable connections to have as many of students will enter the professional field after graduating from SAIS.
Tessel’s courses at SAIS and engagements with the faculty and student body has opened her eyes to new fields of interest and opportunities. This includes the role of the private sector in achieving a sustainable and equitable recovery from Covid-19, and business and human rights. After completing the four-course certificate program and finishing her graduate education in Europe, Tessel hopes to further focus on these new interests. SAIS has been an extraordinary experience. She never thought that it was possible to gain so much knowledge and make life-long friendships, even in just one semester. Tessel is confident that everything she has learned during the certificate program will continue to be a valuable asset and comparative advantage throughout every next step she takes.

Learn more about our flexible four-course certificate program that enabled Tessel to expand her expertise.

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