The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Jessica Siriosi, MA COEX'19 (Papua New Guinea)

Jessica Siriosi
Jessica Siriosi, MA COEX'19 (Papua New Guinea)

For Jessica Siriosi, conflict resolution runs in the family. She was born and raised in East New Britain Province but later spent six years working in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea—an area that has gone through decade of upheaval. Her father helped with the Bougainville Peace Process as one of the senior government officials in Bougainville, bringing together factions from Bougainville and the Papua New Guinea government.

“I’m passionate about everything about Bougainville. It’s a small island with a diverse and unique culture—over 23 different languages—and at the same time rich with minerals and resources,” Siriosi says. “In the short term, I plan to work closely with Bougainville to address structural and systemic violence in institutions. I see the potential of Bougainville emerging as one of the successful stories in the Pacific.”

She came to Heller after five years with the United Nations Development Program. Through that work, she met a COEX alumnus who encouraged her to pursue her master’s degree at Heller. 

“When I read through the program goals and objectives, I thought, ‘This is exactly where I want to be,’” she says. “I also wanted to hear from the large number of international students and learn how they’re doing work in their home communities, and share my experiences as well.”

It wasn’t easy for the single mom of two young boys, 5 and 9, to leave her kids with her parents to come to Heller. But she’s excited about all she’s learning here. She plans to use her degree to resume peace and development work in her home country, while expanding her scope to include innovative programming in conflict and post-conflict areas throughout the Pacific region and the world.

“It’s important to empower locals to deal with their own issues, to use local innovations coupled with the right approaches to create sustainable solutions,” she says.