Safiya Arnaout

MPA-Health - 2014

Health Information Implementation Specialist
Doctors Without Borders
Safiya Arnaout

How did being in New York impact your professional journey?

I spent my entire life in California, so being away from my family and friends, finding a New York City apartment, adapting to the busier lifestyle, weather, transportation system and interacting with so many people on a day-to-day basis improved my endurance, tenacity, resilience and conscientiousness. Surprisingly, I also found myself becoming a more strategic and organized person as daily life in New York City involves planning. Those habits provided a foundation for me to construct a professional journey, take decisive action towards realizing it and never wavering from my commitment to overcoming any challenges that may get in my way. 

How would you describe your experience as a Wagner student?

I really enjoyed being a Wagner student. I took nine years off between my undergraduate and graduate studies, so going from full-time professional to full-time student was challenging but also in many ways very liberating and exciting. Although the Wagner student body is quite large, I always felt supported, which was critical because I was making a major career shift and lifestyle change.  Last and definitely not least, part of my Wagner experience was a tremendous amount of personal growth, which undoubtedly influenced the trajectory of my professional career.

How did your Wagner experience prepare you professionally for what you are doing today?

The Wagner curriculum prepared me for working in and navigating through a nonprofit of this magnitude and complexity. The Wagner experience also provided me with hard skills, especially those related to nonprofit management, strategic planning, performance measurement and management, data analysis, and monitoring and evaluation. It also provided me with opportunities to do work in my niche area of expertise and, most importantly, several opportunities to work abroad.