Jeff Murphy (MAIPS '98) talks about how the Monterey Institute helped his career in public service.
Alumna Working at Refugee Camp She Wrote about in Term Paper
September 28, 2011
Time and time again we hear stories of Monterey Institute students who launch a career through one of their immersive learning experiences, or of professors inspiring students to seek internships that lead to a job after graduation. Less often, we learn about students who actually write a class paper about their future job.
Professor Don Van Arsdol advised Lauren Messing (MPA ’10) to “research a topic that is near and dear to your heart, and somewhere you want to work” when she was a student in his and Tsuneo Akaha’s course, Introduction to Migration. For her class project she chose to conduct a needs assessment for the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A mere two years later she reflected on that term paper as she entered the crowded Dadaab refugee camp as a field team leader at the CWS/Resettlement Support Center - Nairobi with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
For someone in Lauren’s position, there is no such thing as a typical day. She travels around sub-Saharan Africa, managing and overseeing caseworkers and interpreters in the field and interviewing and preparing refugee files for adjudication for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “The job is emotionally difficult,” shares Lauren. A large part of the work preparing refugees’ files entails documenting their past persecution stories. “The stories are often heart-wrenchingly difficult to hear.”
Despite the difficulties, Lauren is doing work she loves. She says she had the perfect education and experience at MIIS to get her there. Even her Japanese and German language skills come in handy when working in an international environment. Master of Public Administration Program Chair Beryl Levinger helped her secure an internship in South Africa working for a mobile HIV and health education project and that experience, along with her coursework, led to her rapid promotion from caseworker to team leader. Not to mention the very active MIIS network in Nairobi that got her the job interview in the first place!
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