By Adeney Zo, UCLA Luskin Student Writer
UCLA Luskin student Sandeep Prasanna (JD/MPP ‘15) was recently awarded the DACOR Bacon House Foundation Fellowship, a prestigious scholarship program for graduate students in international affairs, which traditionally has been awarded to students in East Coast institutions. Prasanna was one of 10 students nationwide to win the fellowship following a rigorous interview process.
The fellowship is awarded annually by DACOR, the professional association for former diplomats and consular officials. In addition to the $11,000 scholarship, each fellow will be featured in a monthly highlight from the organization.
“I really enjoyed the interview, since both of my interviewers—former diplomats—had served in countries that I had an interest in.” says Prasanna. “It turned into an hour of friendly banter with two people that had amazing careers and lots of stories.”
Prasanna initially came to UCLA to study law, but as he delved deeper into his studies, his interest in public policy and international affairs led him to apply for the UCLA Luskin Master of Public Policy program as well. “In law, you develop broad conceptual analysis skills, while in policy you learn how to look at hard data and develop quantitative skills,” explains Prasanna.
Prasanna graduated from Duke University with a self-designed major consisting of linguistics, evolutionary anthropology and psychology. “My interest in the sociology and diversity of language drove my interest in international affairs. From there, I started learning about present-day politics,” he says.
Combining his passion for international law and policy, Prasanna has worked hard to achieve a number of awards and honors throughout his studies at UCLA.
This year, Prasanna was a member of the first UCLA team to enter the Jean-Pictet Competition, a prominent international humanitarian law competition sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross. A total of 29 different countries — spread across 48 teams of three — were represented at this year’s competition in Sintra, Portugal.
“We spent around three months preparing for the competition,” describes Prasanna. “Each week, we focused on one area of the law and took tests similar to those from the competition.”
During the week-long competition, teams were tested up to three times a day. Given a set of situational facts and specific character role-plays, competitors had to create a legal analysis of the situation before a panel of judges.
“The judges will grill you on what exactly is legal and what to do in each situation. Some of the tests were incredibly difficult,” Prasanna says. “But there were some areas of the law that I really knew—and when the judges sense that you know what you’re doing, they get excited and start pushing back harder.” Prasanna was ultimately nominated for the Gilbert Apollis Award, which recognizes the best orators in the competition.
In addition to these notable achievements, Prasanna was also recently awarded the Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship, offered by the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA for minority graduate students in the field of international affairs.
With regards to the future, Prasanna explains: “I intend to pursue public international law, particularly human rights law, so an MPP adds to my experience and training. I don’t know what exactly my career will look like because my path up to this point has been extremely nonlinear, but it’s great to get recognition for the things that I really love doing.”