Master of Arts in Sustainable International Development

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. 

Monique DeSimone, MA SID/MBA’23

Monique DeSimone, MA SID/MBA’23

Recipient of the Reaching Out MBA Scholarships (LGBTQ+)

DeSimone came to Heller eager to build off her financial services expertise and learn more about program management and equity-centric frameworks. She is pursuing dual master’s degrees: an MA in Sustainable International Development and a Social Impact MBA with a concentration in social entrepreneurship and impact management.

“I hope to redirect funds from traditionally capitalist institutions back into Black and indigenous communities of color,” she says. Leveraging those resources to address and adapt to the climate crisis will not only increase local climate resilience but will also help address historic inequity.
Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX'24

Neh Meh, MA SID/COEX‘24 (Myanmar/Thailand)

Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

As a former refugee herself, Neh Meh understands the challenges many refugees face when trying to obtain an education in the U.S. Now she’s hoping to make that process more equitable for others.

“Right now, a lot of refugees in camps receive an education, but it’s not a standardized education or an education accepted by the host country, which limits their economic growth potential and job opportunities,” she said. “That’s something I’d like to try to change.”
Leopoldino Jeronimo, COEX / MA SID’22

Leopoldino Jeronimo, MA COEX/SID’22 (Mozambique)

Leopoldino Jeronimo started the “Thinking Through with LJ” podcast during his time at Heller to help relate what he was learning in class to current events that he and his classmates were experiencing both in the U.S. and in their home countries.

After graduation, Jeronimo aspires to become a think tank facilitator and continue to bring together subject matter experts on conflict resolution. He says his experience at Heller connecting with people from around the world has helped him establish an international network.

Zari Havercome ’16, MBA/MA SID’22

Zari Havercome ’16, MBA/MA SID’22

AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumnus, Recipient of the Heller Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

“Shirley Chisholm said, ‘Service is the rent you pay to live on earth.' I want to support communities that are disenfranchised, under-resourced, taken advantage of—the people experiencing cyclical poverty and hunger. We have come too far for people to still suffer from things they don’t have to.”

That's why Havercome has dedicated her life to service, from distributing canned goods and school materials in her grandmother’s home country of Guyana as a child, to working for AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps after graduating from college.

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 injustice 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, MBA/MA SID'20

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 GHPM/MA SID'20

Surayyo Ilnazarova, MS GHPM/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, MA SID'20

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.”

Tiginesh Beyene, MA SID'20

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.”