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Before enrolling in the MPA/ID program, I worked in development across several sectors: NGOs, multi-laterals, donors, and the private sector. Having seen development done from many different perspectives, I found that I had a lot of unanswered questions about how development should be done and recognized that I still had much to learn. I wanted the rigor of a Ph.D. in development economics, but didn't want to spend more than a few years away from work. When I learned about the MPA/ID, I realized that it was exactly what I was looking for. The program combines training in economics with practical applications, and also provides opportunities to hone leadership skills and build expertise in specific subject areas. I was able to put these skills to use as soon as the summer after my first year, when I interned with the Ministry of Finance in Liberia; I would not have been nearly as effective without the first year curriculum.
However, the best part about the MPA/ID Program was the amazing people I came to be friends with and to learn from. It is difficult to imagine a group of people more passionate about international development and poverty alleviation. As an alumna, I still find myself thinking back to discussions I had with my classmates and reaching out to them for support, advice, and connections. It was a gift to be constantly challenged to think about tough questions in development both in and outside of the classroom, and was truly an honor to grow personally and professionally among so many future development leaders.
Prior to joining the MPA/ID Program, Gayatri worked at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, the World Bank, and several local NGOs in various developing countries. She completed a dual degree candidate with the Stanford Graduate School of Business. After graduation, she co-founded and launched a social enterprise in Rwanda, EarthEnable.
Gaya Datar, MPA/ID 2013 (USA)