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Tinker-Walker & IDP Travel Fellowship Recipients

Asli Ozdemir, SIS/MS '15

Catholic Relief Services, Madagascar

Photo of DM student, Aslı Ozdemir.

What organization did you work for and where?

I worked for Catholic Relief Services in Madagascar, an international nongovernmental organization that has been carrying out health, food security and livelihoods programs for underprivileged Malagasy people since 1962.

What did you do?

My main goal was to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of private sector engagement in food security and livelihood programs with a focus on ICT integration, input provision, and value chain development in agriculture projects. I designed and implemented research with key stakeholders including CRS staff, private sector partners, local organizations, and beneficiaries. During my field research, I conducted interviews and focus groups with smallholder farmers in order to assess their capacity, needs, and interests. Also, I monitored an innovative pilot project by observing activities and interviewing participants in order to document best practices and lessons learned.

What did you enjoy about the experience?

Madagascar was my first travel to an African country. I enjoyed getting to know the unique people, culture, and nature of this beautiful island. My work allowed me to travel all over the country and be involved in enriching exchanges throughout the way.

How did this experience prepare you for the job market and your future career?

My experience in Madagascar and my work at CRS had a significant influence in my personal and professional growth. Personally, I gained confidence in becoming a practitioner and working in the field directly with target populations. Professionally, I developed systematic knowledge of design, monitoring and evaluation in food security and livelihoods projects by working with exemplary managers and technical experts. I was given initiative to practice and evaluate innovative approaches I learned at my classes which turned my academic knowledge into hard skills in project implementation. In addition, I gained an invaluable perspective on the influence of local social and economic context on the sustainability of interventions.

 

Erin Davis, SIS/Kogod MBA/MA '15

South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), Tonga

Erin working in Tonga.

Where did you work? 

The Tinker-Walker Fellowship allowed me to spend the summer in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific interning for South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), a microfinance network with additional locations in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Samoa.

What did you do? 

I authored an official company report distributed to social investors that described and quantified annual progress towards specific microfinance impact objectives (business development, childhood education, housing improvement) for our clients: impoverished, female entrepreneurs in Tonga. In addition, I conducted field research through surveys, interviews, and observation to develop a comprehensive social performance measurement program, including a new impact survey to allow for improved client data collection.

What did you enjoy about the experience? 

Taking on this internship gave me the distinct opportunity to witness the many nuances and challenges that come with operating a successful business in a foreign country, especially one with a social mission.

How did this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for your future career?

The management, analytical, and business skills I was able to hone in Tonga will not only help me in the classroom but also as I venture back to the "working world" next year because of the unique perspective I now carry.

 

Joanna Mahoney, SIS/MS '15

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Haiti

Joanna working in Haiti.

Where did you work? 

Over the course of ten weeks this summer, I worked for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti (CRS)-- an international non-governmental organization that supports relief and development work in over 91 countries around the world and serves more 100 million people annually. CRS has been active in Haiti for over 60 years.

What did you do? 

The goal of my work at CRS was to provide support and technical assistance that enhances CRS Haiti's country program capacity to more effectively integrate and manage the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) policies, procedures and strategies. Some of the projects and tasks I undertook were: an aggregate diagnostic of all the MEAL systems in place for every country project being implemented in the field, a measurement of programs' impact on community resilience, and capacity building activities for the CRS/Haiti's project and MEAL staff in Operations Research through workshops, trainings and reference materials.

What did you enjoy about the experience? 

I really enjoyed living in Haiti over the summer and getting to know the Haitian culture.

How did this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for the job market and your future career?

This experience helped me grow as a student by giving me the opportunity to put into practice what I had learned in my first year of graduate study. It also allowed me to gain familiarity and valuable field experience within an NGO context. I'm confident that this experience will help me narrow down the types of job opportunities I pursue after graduation."

 

Mukhaye Muchimuti, SIS/MA '15

Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Research and Conservation Centre, Brazil

Mukhaye testing water in Brazil.

Where did you work? 

I worked for the Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Research and Conservation Centre, a Brazilian non-profit focused on natural resource management, associated research, and advocacy.

What did you do? 

My principal task was to develop the management plan for an Environmental Protection Area (APA) in the state of Minas Gerais with a focus on the element of watershed management. The work was largely self-directed so I did a large amount of independent research. At the same time, I was able to collaborate with a GIS team to generate maps showing the high priority areas for watershed protection within the APAs of interest.

What did you enjoy about the experience? 

Working with Robin Le Breton, a seasoned professional in sustainable management of natural resources, has given me some invaluable insight on this field which is of great personal interest. Also, the immersion experience helped improve my Portuguese language skills beyond my expectations.

How did this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for your future career?

Overall this has been a great experience because it exposed me to tools such as GIS and provided a primer for a GIS course which I intend to take in the spring semester.

 

Dilanthi Ranaweera, SIS/MA '15

BRAC, Uganda

Dilanthi working in Uganda.

Where did you work?

I worked at BRAC Uganda’s Research and Evaluation Unit (REU) in Kampala, Uganda.

What did you do?

I was primarily involved in the impact evaluation BRAC is currently conducting on Village Enterprise’s livelihoods program that targets the extreme poor in rural Uganda. I co-led survey trainings for local enumerators, and supervised field-staff and enumerators on data collection and cross-checking for baseline and household cash-outflow surveys. As an additional project, I interviewed BRAC microfinance borrowers and credit officers as part of the REU’s preliminary research to develop a pilot project that looks into how borrowers having a meeting space affects their social capital, group dynamics, and microfinance indicators.

What did you enjoy about the experience?

What I enjoyed most about my time in Uganda was having the opportunity to travel all over the country, especially to rural areas. Though I was based in the Kampala Country Office, I spent more than half of my time at BRAC traveling to and working from the field. I met some truly inspiring people during my travels and developed friendships that I know will last beyond the summer.

How did this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for your future career?

My time in Uganda has been an invaluable experience both academically and professionally. I had been wanting to learn more about impact evaluations and so was thankful to have this internship which introduced me to it within my area of interest: rural development, particularly rural livelihoods. Furthermore, I had never been to Africa before, so my internship with BRAC was also my introduction to the breathtakingly beautiful Uganda and the continent. I will always cherish my time in Uganda and the relationships I built there. I look forward to going back

True Claycombe, SIS/MA '15

Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA), Cambodia

True Claycombe working in Cambodia.

Where did you work?

I worked for the Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

What did you do?

I worked as their Community Health Output-Based Aid (CHOBA) intern. CHOBA is a program recently launched by RACHA that focuses on working with chiefs, suppliers, and communities to promote sanitation education and provide rebates to families who purchase latrines. I conducted and produced a supply chain analysis of the latrine supplies to better inform the processes of CHOBA implementation and help ameliorate the gaps that hinder latrine suppliers from meeting the demands by the community.

What did you enjoy about the experience?

From the Cambodian people, the RACHA staff, to the hands-on experience with latrines I gained, I truly enjoyed everything about this experience.

How has this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for your future career?

It helped me grow as a student because I was able to take what I learned in my Health in Developing Countries, Global Health Organizations, and Micropolitics classes last semester and apply this knowledge to my project at RACHA. I am now able to bring my experience from Cambodia back with me to the classroom and finish this year with some good insight about my future trajectory. This experience made me confident to work with diverse populations and immerse myself completely in understanding cultures. I am now better equipped to identify social determinants for specific health issues and how to address these to improve the health of communities.

 

Molly Chen, SIS/MA '14

Peace Corps, Tanzania

Molly working in Tanzania.
Where did you work?

I worked with Peace Corps Tanzania. I was based in Dar es Salaam, where Peace Corps Tanzania's office is located, for the majority of my time.  I also had the opportunity to travel to other regions to conduct trainings for Peace Corps Volunteers.  

What did you do?

I conducted primary research for my Substantial Research Paper (SRP), which was focused on working with Peace Corps Tanzania and their monitoring and evaluation system. My assignment this summer was to analyze Peace Corps Tanzania’s monitoring, evaluation, and reporting (MRE) framework, program indicators, and trainings on MRE for their Volunteers and staff.

What did you enjoy about the experience?

I really enjoyed working within the Peace Corps community again. I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Suriname 2009-2011) and had the best experience as a volunteer and this experience was an amazing intersection of combining my perspective as a former Volunteer and the academic and professional knowledge of MRE.

How has this experience help you grow as a student and prepare you for your future career?

I have been able to turn my SRP into a short term assignment with Peace Corps headquarters and am continuing to work with their MRE team utilizing my findings from my assignment this summer. This has been an invaluable professional experience.