African Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies
What is your current job?
I work in the fields of forced migration and international education. For the past three and a half years I have been working with the International Rescue Committee in Thailand and Malaysia, managing and coordinating refugee education and resettlement programming with camp-based and urban refugee populations. Previously, I worked as a refugee education specialist with the Oakland Public School District in California, in humanitarian aid coordination and advocacy with InterAction in Washington, DC and writing internationally focused curriculum on both genocide and international development at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
Why did you choose this profession?
In some ways I would say that this profession chose me during my senior year at Haverford. My senior thesis research focused on conflict transformation and peace education programming within the Liberian refugee community in Philadelphia and in conducting that research I developed a deep commitment to refugee related work, conflict resolution, and peace education. That commitment served as the basis of my post-college job search and my subsequent career moves. Over the years, I have certainly expanded and refined my career interests and path, but my senior thesis undoubtedly served as a defining moment in choosing my professional direction.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
Unfortunately, given the world that we live in today, there will be no shortage of work in support of refugee populations. Over the past decade and a half, I have continuously grown my understanding of both the complexities of forced migration as well as the possible solutions and support structures that need to be strengthened or created to support the growing number of displaced people around the world. As my career unfolds, I will continue to use my knowledge, skills and energy to improve and implement effective programming and policy in this arena. Additionally, as I have moved into more senior management positions in recent years, I have focused a growing amount of my time on staff motivation, management development programming, and individual and organizational resiliency building. I see these as essential ingredients to sustainable, impactful work, and as ingredients that are too often missing in taxing work environments. I plan to focus more of my efforts in these areas in the years to come.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
As I look back at the past 15 years of my career, each change that I made allowed me to expand my knowledge and expertise while continuing to use my strengths to the best of my abilities. I would therefore say that each career move I have made, while not without their challenges, has been positive. With each possible career change, I actively consider how and where I could be most effective and allow that to shape my decision. I have found that to be extremely helpful over the years. Now, figuring out how to combine that approach with a bit more work-life balance is the next career change I need to make!
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
My time at Haverford College was immensely influential in terms of my professional career - both in terms of helping me develop the foundational skills and interests for my early professional decisions as well as providing me with the environment and opportunities to clarify the core beliefs and overarching goals that have moved me forward in my career. Four things in particular that had a profound impact on shaping my professional path were the the honor code, my study abroad experience, my senior thesis research, and my community of friends. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to have spent four years in a community shaped by an honor code where inter-dependence, trust, open communication, and living deliberately were the norm. Studying abroad in Ghana was a very challenging and expansive experience for me that, among other things, spurred me to seek a career path that is cross-cultural in nature and that includes international travel and work. My senior thesis research provided me with an opportunity to explore and wrestle with my academic interests outside of the classroom, resulting in clarity as I applied for post-college jobs. Perhaps less concrete but also extremely influential was my community of friends (including my husband!) from Haverford. Whether as sounding boards, thought partners, open ears, or inspiration, it would be impossible for me to over-emphasize the ways in which my Haverford friends have impacted my overall path.