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. 

Chad Marvin, MA SID'22

Chad Marvin, MA SID'22

Jake Jagoda Memorial Endowment Recipient

“My goal is to have a human-based approach to solving environmental problems. I knew I wanted to be globally focused and I saw Heller’s core values of looking into the root causes of social justice and inequality and where poverty comes from. I loved it. Now that we’ve started classes, everyone has such great insights. The best moments of my day are in Heller classes, where I get to hear new insights from the professors and of course my fellow students, who all have such amazing perspectives. It is such a good space to be in.”
Dahiana Loaiza

Dahiana Loaiza, MS GHPM/MA SID'20 (United States)

AmeriCorps CityYear alumnus, Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

“I’m mostly focused on health resources allocated to marginalized communities. Even within Latinx populations, there’s marginalized sub-communities, such as indigenous folks. I’m interested in looking at why these health disparities exist, despite resources that have been made available. Often those communities haven’t been able to access them.”
Amir Timorkhani

Amir Timorkhani, MA SID/MBA'20 (Afghanistan)

Open Society Foundation Fellow

“Afghanistan is a country that has a long history of discrimination, exclusion and gender inequality, which has led to mass poverty and chronic violence. I am determined to promote social justice in Afghanistan. To achieve peace and economic growth, we should promote social justice and inclusion. The beauty of the country is its diversity, which rarely has been celebrated as an advantage... I want to acquire leadership and management skills while developing a deep understanding of development principles to become an agent of change.” 

Surayyo Ilnazarova, MS/MA SID’20 (Tajikistan)

“Pursuing dual degrees at Heller was a logical next step given my experience in public health and motivation to strengthen my ability to make a greater impact, taking on bigger projects to make larger-scale changes,” says Ilnazarova, who hopes to work for an international development agency in her country such as the World Health Organization or UNICEF. “I’m learning both health and development and understanding problems associated with them. Strategies to address some of the systemic causes of poor health outcomes among vulnerable communities are rooted within broader framework of sustainable development.”

Abdishakur Ahmed

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

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

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

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 (U.S.)

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 Marx

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. 


Bertha Asare, an MA in Sustainable International Development student, shares why she started a nonprofit to help people with disabilities in Ghana and how Heller, through its social entrepreneurship pitch series and supportive professors, is helping her take her organization to the next level.
Syrga Kanatbek Kyzy, MA SID/MS GHPM'21, shares how she wants to use her dual degrees in sustainable international development and global health policy and management to fight for equality, change the lives of vulnerable people and improve health systems in Kyrgyzstan.

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.