Student Profiles

Heller SID students are simply amazing. We believe that our program attracts people who are uniquely driven to pursue sustainable international development with a focus on people and the environment, in addition to the economy. Our students come to Heller with an already-impressive array of skills and experiences, from military veterans and humanitarian aid professionals, to Peace Corps members and local government officials. 

Abdishakur Ahmed, MA SID'20 (Somaliland)

Jake Jagoda Memorial Scholarship Endowment

“Going back to these rural communities that I used to be a part of, made me witness many of the other social problems they are facing. Heller not only had the SID program, but also the environmental conservation concentration that I wanted. My coursework at Heller and summer internship are preparing me to address sustainable energy challenges in Africa from a global perspective."

Sita Leota

Sita Leota, MA SID’20 (Samoa)

Fulbright Scholar

“In my work at the Samoa Audit Office, I was key liaison between our office and Parliament to provide advice to politicians and to guide them into the types of questions they could ask of government entities relating to their performance. My motivation in pursuing the SID program was to extend on that work to help Samoan people debate critically on issues involving the Samoan government and issues that involve the Pacific. There's a lot of government and public information that's available, but most people are not aware of that. I want to help Samoan citizens to be engaged in issues, do their research and hold the government accountable.”

Qaisar Roonjha, MA SID'19 (Pakistan)

“Heller helped me to understand the theories behind what I was doing in my work,” he says, including writing grant proposals, budgeting and donor relations. At Heller, “you meet a lot of inspiring people and you learn the way they have done things in their own countries. I now understand the problems in Nigeria, the challenges to young people in America, the struggles around gender identities in India. That’s critical as an international development sector professional.”

Roba Bulga Jilo, MA SID/MBA'19 (Ethiopia)

“I’m not against development, but I’ve seen so-called development that’s a disaster. Development should recognize the rights of the people to the land, the air, the river.” When Bulga graduates in summer 2019, he plans to return to Ethiopia, where a new government gives him optimism that he can effect real change. “I’m more than ready to go back and contribute whatever I can. I could be in the nongovernment sector or work on businesses that support local people. I’m ready to challenge development policy, work on land issues, biodiversity and pastoralist issues.”

Tiginesh Beyene, MA SID'20 (Ethiopia)

“Small-scale rural farmers are in trouble. Climate change means rain isn’t reliable, so they need irrigation, infrastructure. And they need policies to change, like ones that force them to buy expensive chemical fertilizers and go into debt.” Tiginesh Beyene says she realized that going back to school was the best way to gain the necessary skills to create large-scale change. She considered programs in agroecology and natural resources management, but decided that Heller, which focused on policy, would help her make the biggest impact. “My experience is at the grassroots level. But if we don’t fix policies, the effects of our work are easily reversed.”

Tozoe Marton

Tozoe Marton, MA SID/MS GHPM’20

Tozoe is thinking ahead to her summer practicum and what kind of field work will best set her up for future career opportunities. “I’m not sure if I want a practicum that’s more policy-focused or more research-focused, but right now I’m thinking the research route would be better for what I want to do. I don’t have a lot of research experience so far, and from what I can see, the most effective policies are backed up by research. I think that may be the best way for me to have a huge impact down the road.”

Tomesha Campbell

Tomesha Campbell, MA SID/COEX'19 (U.S.)

“I’m looking for ways to create the dialogue that’s needed between groups,” says Tomesha Campbell.

The Marine Corps veteran, who has been deployed to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, says her experiences in Botswana and Bahrain gave her insight into the development challenges many nations face.

“I chose to come to Heller because of the international focus and the diversity,” Campbell says. “The connections have been the best part of my experience so far. It’s given me new perspectives of different places in the world I’ll never go. I’m taking into account different cultures and making sure I’m not being disrespectful or asserting my privilege as an American over different groups.”

Meredith Beaton Marx, MA SID’19 (U.S.)

Meredith Beaton Marx, MA SID’19, received the Brandeis-India Fellows Award for a research internship at the Navdanya Biodiversity Farm in Uttarakhand, India. Over the summer, she learned about sustainable farming practices that provide farmers with seed freedom and soil health, helping them maintain true food security without being dependent on large corporations, and surveyed Navdanya's farmers to learn about their perspectives on real social and economic benefits of transitioning to organic farming. 


Enet Mukurazita, MA SID'19, from Zimbabwe, and Rigat Keleta, MA SID'19, from Eritrea, explain why they're passionate about girls' education and how their Heller education in sustainable international development will help them create change at home and beyond.