NPSIA Graduation Spotlight: Monica Silver

If you could choose one word to sum up your time at NPSIA, what is it and why?

Innovative. In my experience, NPSIA professors constantly pushed me to think beyond traditional approaches to certain issues and imagine new, innovative policy solutions. This encouragement of critical and innovative thinking challenged me to be both creative and pragmatic. Effectively, it improved my problem-solving in day-to-day life, research and work. I think this sort of encouragement can be somewhat of a rarity, as well, because the easiest route (in teaching, policy-making and otherwise) is typically to stick with traditional, status quo approaches. Considering this, I’m very grateful that so many of my professors motivated me to put on my thinking cap!

What is your favourite NPSIA memory?

Taking the Centre for Trade Policy and Law’s Certificate in Trade Negotiation Skills course… in Costa Rica. The course itself was outstanding and the location was simply the cherry on top. While the delicious fresh fruit is sadly many miles away now, I developed skills and relationships that I continue to rely on today. Thank you to the CTPL and Professor Rourke!

What was your favourite course or who was your favourite professor?

While there are some close runner-ups, Professor Lilly is my favourite professor. I learned so much from her over the past two years, both in terms of issue-specific knowledge and softer skills. I was fortunate enough to engage with Professor Lilly in a couple of courses and through my research, which she generously supervised. She is a clear, compassionate and balanced educator. Notably, when COVID-19 struck and courses were moved online, I found Professor Lilly’s approach to online teaching was particularly commendable. It was clear she committed extra effort to ensure the best possible learning experience for her students. If you’re interested in taking one of her courses, I’d highly recommend INAF 5306: Trade Policy in North America. It was my favourite course at NPSIA.

What was the most important lesson you learned during your time at NPSIA?

Think critically not only of others’ work but, perhaps even more importantly, of your own. I don’t mean that in the sense of nit-picking, but rather of being willing to see faults in your own thinking, to consider perspectives beyond your own and to change your position when needed to provide a better outcome. Being willing to accept criticism and evolve is essential to most things in life, I’d say, but especially policy-making.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working in trade policy at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and will be completing a temporary assignment in strategic trade policy at Global Affairs Canada shortly. For now, international trade is where my interest lies. In light of rising global protectionism and changing social challenges, I’d like to think very hard about how Canada can leverage its trade and diplomatic relationships to improve livelihoods both domestically and around the world. I think we can do more to employ trade-related mechanisms to address Canadian competitiveness, international labour standards, climate change mitigation and other issues.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the NPSIA community?

To prospective students on the fence about coming to NPSIA, I can confirm it was an excellent investment in my education, personal development and career. I look forward to developing the relationships I’ve formed in the NPSIA community and believe we have significant potential to incite positive change if we all put our thinking caps on and work cooperatively.