1. What is your year and major at UT?
I am an incoming senior at UT majoring in Plan II, International Relations and Global Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, minoring in Arabic.
2. How long have you been in IPD and how did you hear about the organization? Are you part of a specific team within IPD?
I joined IPD in the fall of 2015 on the Conflict and Development team, and have recently been working with the Open Aid Team. I heard about IPD from Vishal Duvvuru, a fellow classmate of mine from a class we had together about NGOs and Terrorism. He could tell I was really interested in aid projects in conflict stricken zones, and suggested I join IPD. My experience in the organization has really helped me explore these interests Vishal saw I had, and I am so thankful he introduced me to IPD.
3. What is the most rewarding part of contributing and being an active member of IPD? Have you faced any challenges while working in IPD?
The most rewarding part of being actively involved in IPD are the people I've been able to work with, and the skills I've learned from data workshops. There aren't a lot of opportunities for undergraduate students to work and collaborate with students and faculty from LBJ, but I have had incredible mentors over the past three years that have taught me so much, namely Raheem Chaudhry and Caleb Rudow. It's also amazing to be able to learn skills in OpenRefine, R, STATA, Excel, GIS, etc. without taking a semester long class; it's helped me with so many projects in IPD and even in my classes. The only challenge I would say I've faced in IPD is being an undergrad surrounded by so many successful and intelligent graduate students. They have more experience with field work, jobs, and are more narrowly studying the things we discuss in IPD - it can be a little intimidating at times. This challenge has definitely helped me grow as a student and researcher interested in aid, governance, and security.
4. How does your work with IPD relate to your career goals?
My future career goals are pretty wide, but IPD definitely relates to all these interests I hope to pursue. I either hope to work with a development aid agency, the state department in international security affairs, or with an IGO related to foreign aid projects and security. I have a strong passion about effective, long term, and sustainable aid in conflict stricken zones, and IPD is preparing me to make an impact in this field by analyzing what makes foreign aid effective. This summer I'll be living in Amman, Jordan, and will be working with the non-profit Souriyat Across Borders. I'll be volunteering with Syrian Refugees and will help them develop a summer curriculum for their aid projects in Amman. I'll be using skills that I learned from IPD lectures and workshops to build this curriculum, and can't wait to see what more I learn to bring back to IPD in the fall.