What is your current job?
I am currently a Policy Advisor at the U.S. Global Development Lab with USAID. Specifically my team is working on strengthening health information systems (both the technology and the people) in Ebola-affected West African countries. The U.S. Global Development Lab is a new bureau within USAID that seeks to increase the application of science, technology, innovation, and partnerships to extend the Agency’s development impact in helping to end extreme poverty by bringing together a diverse set of partners to discover, test, and scale breakthrough innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper.
Why did you choose this profession?
Since graduating from Haverford I have worked in international development and relief. I find it to be a very complex, fascinating, and challenging field. It requires an understanding of economics, policy, management, the local environment where you are operating, as well as technical expertise for the specific project – all while usually working with limited resources and with many different organizations from around the world. I've been lucky enough to travel to over 20 countries for work, and to live in Jordan for two years. It's rewarding and I love working with people from all different disciplines and backgrounds to have a positive effect on people's lives.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
I plan to stay in the field of international development for the rest of my career, working towards a position in management in an international organization, focusing on operations.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
I moved to Jordan after I graduated from graduate school in order to be with my husband. I had done some job searching online and was in the right field to get a job - it was during the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan - but still hadn't found any real prospects. I felt I was going against everything I had been taught - to move to a new country where I didn't speak the language without a job seemed reckless. I found a job writing for a local magazine when I first arrived and eventually landed a volunteer position with the UN that turned into a full time position very quickly. I learned that sometimes you just have to take a chance and dive right into a new opportunity, and that persistence, networking and being adventurous can really pay off!
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
I was an economics major at Haverford and I will say that I was not always sure that I would use economics much again after graduation. I left Haverford with a good understanding of the subject and, like many of my fellow Haverfordians, the feeling that I wanted to do something positive for the world, but with a lack of understanding on how I could link the two in my own career. I was interested in pursuing a career in public health, and after some different thoughts as to how to go about this, including almost pursuing a medical degree, I found a job working with Orbis International where I really developed my skills and interest in international development. Haverford has always influenced my life- my father and mother (Haverford class of 1976 and Bryn Mawr class of 1978) have instilled the Haverfordian values in me- always pushing me to work hard, think creatively and critically, and raising me to believe that everyone has a responsibility to contribute to society in some way.