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Peace Corps Student Profiles: Stephanie Sandbeck

Stephanie Sandbeck
Master's International Botswana 2013-2015
M.S Development Management

Dumela! My name is Stephanie Christine Sandbeck. I am a MSDM candidate who is currently serving in Botswana for Peace Corps under the Masters International program. Given that I am still in the middle of my graduate program, I do not expect to obtain my Masters until Spring 2016, after return from service. It will be a long haul, but as I continue with my service, I find myself increasingly identifying opportunities for practica. In consultation with my faculty adviser, I will identify and complete my Masters practicum as well as serve as a Peace Corps volunteer, keeping a foot in both the Peace Corps and academic camps.

I first came to SIS during the Fall of 2012 as an International Development major, but after a class with Professor Hirschmann I knew my passion was for development management and I switched my major to MSDM. While at SIS, I researched what factors increased female political participation as well other issues in development, such as monitoring and evaluation (and I have since chosen to make monitoring and evaluation my degree's concentration). My courses at SIS gave me the opportunity to consult with non-governmental organizations, like WorldVision, and those experiences given me a greater understanding of NGO-public-private sector dynamics. As a NGO volunteer, this has been invaluable.

My assignment with Peace Corps Botswana is with both a local non-governmental organization, Botswana Retired Nurses Society (BORNUS), and a local government office, the District AIDS Commissioner (DAC). It is the role of every Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in country to help organizations (clinics, schools, NGOs, and government offices) in their response to Botswana's fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Botswana has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world). For me, this means that I help my NGO build organizational capacity by conducting SWOTs with staff, networking with community stakeholders as well as potential donors (this includes the embassies, USAID, international NGOs, and government offices), identifying gaps in programing (and discuss restructuring or elimination of current programs, if needed), taking another look with my counterpart at how we measure success and discussing different ways of doing it, co-writing grants, and even simply introducing new software and training staff on it. For my work at the DAC, I help plan activities and workshops, network with community stakeholders, summarize reports to integrate into our District AIDS Profile, and again find new software solutions to introduce.