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Can you tell us about your work?

I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors in Global Studies –Security and a Certificate in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. The time that I spent as a Global Studies student has laid the foundations for the work that I have done in the past 5 years.  While at UWM (University of Wisconsin, Madison), I focused my time on understanding Global Security through the lens of food security.  In my Junior year, I studied and worked abroad in Hyderabad and Pune India, first spending 6 months at a graduate school, the University of Hyderabad, and then subsequently working for 6 months at the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR).  At the WOTR, I worked to study the impact and feasibility of building Aquaponics systems in rural India – work that I would come back to when I graduated in 2011. My work and study in India, was one of the most foundational experiences of my career, in which I not only learned the intricacies of working and living in emerging markets, but also grew to understand the hurdles non profit development institutions faced when carrying out programs.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

As a senior at UWM, I was given the opportunity to travel to UC-Berkeley for the Public Policy and International Affairs fellowship (PPIA).  PPIA is a summer fellowship hosted at top policy institutions across the country, and provides students with the opportunity to take graduate level courses in Economics, Statistics, and Public Policy in order to prepare them to entering the public policy space, and eventually pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy. In this summer, I really learned the value of the interdisciplinary GS degree – I had significant subject breadth which really allowed me to excel in the summer fellowship. After returning to UWM and spending a year working with the City of Milwaukee’s Center for Environmental Sustainability and Sweet Water Foundation, I was admitted to UC-Berkeley with a full scholarship to pursue a Master of Public Policy which I completed in 2014.

What was your career path?

Since my Master’s degree, I have transitioned to Data and Research Scientist roles at various companies.  Specifically, I have worked in consulting utilizing my understanding of policy and statistics to assist Mexican Consulates in optimizing their business practices.  I have also worked at two startup tech companies in San Francisco, Quid and Premise, in customer facing analytics and data science roles.  In my role at Premise, I served as a Data Scientist working primarily with international development institutions such as the World Bank, to help them use the Premise data collection and analytics platform to solve issues such as “whether a Sin Tax on Cigarettes will produce the hypothesized economic impact” or “are there sufficient financial access points serving the poor in an East African city.”

What are you doing currently?

I have just begun a new role as a Research Manager / Data Scientist on Facebook’s Public Policy and Data For Good team. In this role, I am working to build research on how Facebook’s data can be used to support the world in developing and implementing strong policies to address poverty, health, and other divisive issues worldwide. For instance, I am leading an effort to partner with Humanitarian Crisis Response organizations to help them get the data they need for natural disaster relief.  I am confident that my foundations from the Global Studies program will provide me with a strong lens with which to approach my work and make an impact on global security and well being.