MDP Class of 2016

MELANIE ALEMAN: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Melanie graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with a double major in English Literature and Communication and a minor in Music Industry Studies. In 2012, Melanie decided to act on her interest in development and public service and joined the Peace Corps. For the past two years, Melanie has been an English Education volunteer in East Java, Indonesia teaching in a madrasah and working with youth development and girl empowerment camps in her small, Islamic community. Melanie is originally from Quito, Ecuador and intends to focus on environmental education and conservation and sustainable livelihoods in the future. During her free time, she loves listening to and creating music, playing guitar and going to concerts, as well as reading, conversation, travel, photography and writing.

PAULITA BENNETT-MARTIN: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Paulita is a Belizean American with a passion for coastal life, and the Caribbean in particular. Her curiosity about human impacts on ecology in coastal communities and the waters surrounding them led her to perform extensive field work tracking spatiotemporal trends in marine debris through small towns and villages of Belize. This study resulted in a fully funded honors thesis in 2013 that she has presented internationally. In May 2014, Paulita graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University with a BA in Geography and a minor in Film and Video, and was selected for an academic year Fellow with the Atlanta BeltLine. Previously, she was a researcher and community coordinator for National Science Foundation and Association of American Geography research teams. Paulita is driven to work in developing coastal communities, with an end goal to ensure healthy human relationships with wildlife and natural environments while stimulating the economies of what she believes are the most precious and vulnerable locations on earth. Outside of school, she is most excited about spending time with her family, aimless and endless walks, new Cousteau books for her collection, making her own clothes, and swimming with whales, sharks and rays.

VICTORIA CHUONG: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Victoria hails from Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She majored in Political Science and invested much of her free time in Model United Nations. After graduation, Victoria did advocacy and civic engagement work for the Asian and Pacific Islander community in North Carolina followed by a year in Ningbo, China, teaching English to primary school children. In the MDP program, she plans to focus on governance and democracy building.

AMELIA CONRAD: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Amelia was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. She attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where she majored in International Relations and International Development. Her interest in development work began as a child, but was solidified during a service trip to Mexico in high school. During college, she studied in Peru, where she conducted independent research in a Lima shantytown and became involved with a shelter for abused and abandoned girls in the rural Andes. Amelia has been involved with service organizations throughout her life, receiving the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award in 2012 and the Tulane Leaders in Service Award in 2013. She has had the opportunity to work with various nonprofits focused on diverse issues such as education, immigration, hunger, and community development, both domestically and abroad, and is particularly interested in issues of gender equity in the developing world. In her free time, Amelia enjoys running, hiking, and exploring new places!

MARIO COREA: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Mario Corea graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and certificates in International Relations and Latin American Studies. Raised in Miami, Florida by parents who fled Nicaragua during civil war, Mario’s interest in development grew from a desire to learn about and give back to the community his family left behind. After graduating from UF he got involved with education-based nonprofits, serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer through City Year for two years and as a refugee youth program assistant with Youth Co-Op for an additional year. Motivated by these experiences, he hopes to focus on the power of community-based service learning to promote civic engagement and socially conscious leadership. In his free time he enjoys exploring new cultures through books and travel, and staying active by biking, boxing, hiking, and doing yoga.

JESSICA FRYE: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Jessica grew up in Texas, and earned a B.A.  in International Business with a minor in International Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Her passion for international development work was ignited through her experiences and work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal.  During her three years in Senegal, she engaged her community in Shea butter production and food security gardens, coordinated gender development scholarships and worked with youth leadership camps, wrote grants for the construction of a community well and latrines, and held business and accounting trainings for local women’s groups. Her biggest achievement as a Peace Corps volunteer was writing a grant for the largest Peace Corps Partnership in history, raising over $54,000 in nine months to build a six-classroom high school that now benefits over 25 villages. Jessica plans to continue development work, establishing schools and health systems in remote areas of Africa and raising awareness about the importance of education. Jessica speaks Spanish, French, German and Fulani and enjoys traveling, reading and going to Zumba classes.

KATHERINE GROENEVELT: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Kate grew up in Rochester, New York where she also attended the University of Rochester. She graduated in 2012, double majoring in Political Science and International Relations. During the summer after her freshman year, she studied abroad in Malawi. Finding the experience both illuminating and confounding, she returned five more times as a teaching assistant for the program and as a research assistant studying agricultural decision-making among smallholder farmers in the context of chronic food insecurity. Through conducting this research, she developed an appreciation for the complexity surrounding issues of local development, which she hopes an Emory education will help her to sort through. In her free time, Kate enjoys watching Yankees baseball, exploring and photographing new places with her friends and family, and cooking new foods.

KATIE HIEBERT: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Originally from Marietta, Georgia, Katie received her bachelors degree in History and Politics from New York University in 2008. After a lovely post-college jaunt in Paris and New York with jobs in education and finance, she turned her attention fully towards a passion for service and international development. With the Peace Corps from 2010-2012, she worked as an English Education consultant with a small school in northeast Moldova as well as the Director of Training for GLOW Moldova, a youth and female empowerment organization that utilizes peer training as a tool for development. For the past year, she has been working with an independent non-profit dedicated to improving cancer care in the state of Georgia. Her wanderlust keeps calling, but Katie has enjoyed exploring a new city here in Atlanta with her husband Brad and dog, Abe Lincoln. She loves to spend her time laughing with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors and cooking delicious vegan fare.

TYRELL KAHAN: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Tyrell grew up in Yalaha, a small town in central Florida. He received a Bachelor’s in Animal Science and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida. He has a special interest in goat production that was sparked while working on research farms in south and central Florida. Before becoming a veterinarian, he worked as an extension agent at Florida A&M University, serving limited-resource farmers. These experiences, combined with his study abroad experiences in Brazil and Mexico, eventually led to his desire to pursue a career in international development. While in veterinary school, Tyrell traveled to Liberia with Veterinarians Without Borders to train community animal health workers. Tyrell’s professional interests include public health, agriculture and food security. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading and traveling.

ERIN KIM: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Erin was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in the melting pot of the suburbs of Atlanta. Erin is passionate about youth development. While working towards Bachelor's degree in International Studies at Emory, she volunteered at Our House, a daycare center for homeless families in Atlanta, mentored local Korean adoptees, and taught immigrant and Native American students. While studying abroad in Kyoto, Japan, during her junior year, Erin volunteered at Eruwha, a center for Korean minorities who are descendants of the captives of World War II. Internships at the South Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. and at the Carter Center in Atlanta fed Erin’s interests in international development. Erin teaches immigrant and refugee children from Africa, Eastern Europe, East and South Asia in the Atlanta suburbs and occasionally travels to Lenoa Vicario, Mexico to work with indigenous children. Erin enjoys playing piano during her free time.

BRADY MOTT: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Brady began traveling at a young age, and through his interest in politics, public health and human rights, started working in development shortly after graduating from high school. Over the years he has contributed to environmental movements in Ecuador, clean water projects in Vietnam, indigenous rights campaigns in Chile, cultural events in India, sanitation programs in Guatemala, human rights advocacy in Mexico, and disease prevention initiatives in Peru. Brady’s enthusiasm for fieldwork led to his academic pursuits at the University of Vermont and the School for International Training, where he studied Political Science and International Development. He hopes to one day open a medical clinic in Peru, work towards the treatment and prevention of neglected tropical diseases, and live in a giant treehouse in the jungle. When he's not engaged in development work, Brady can be found whitewater paddling, bouldering, and building art in the desert.

VICTORIA PHOENIX: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

While growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Victoria developed a passion for human rights and development. Throughout her life, she volunteered and worked for many nonprofit organizations in various ways, including Americorps NCCC as a corps member, a rape crisis center as a Rape Crisis advocate, and CopWatch as an organizer and lobbyist. After graduating from high school, she moved to Vienna, Austria for two years and volunteered with the United Nations Women’s Guild and studied art. In 2012, she graduated with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Social Welfare from the University of New Mexico. Since graduation, she has worked with the Equal Opportunity Commission and Habitat for Humanity International on various projects including helping to establish a disability recruitment incentive for the US Air force. Victoria's research interest and passion is in transitional justice, especially reparations, apologies, and memorials. Victoria enjoys traveling and immersing herself in the different cultures; she has traveled extensively and has visited five continents, living in three.  She also enjoys painting and attending art events.

SUMON RAY: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Sumon Ray is a native Georgian who graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital and Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Public Health. On his journeys to Cambodia, Ghana, and India, he knew that he was meant to live a life exploring the unexplored. Recently, Sumon went through 3 months of Health Education training through Peace Corps Ghana focusing on Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Malnutrition, and Reproductive Health which confirmed his passion for international development. Through the MDP Program, Sumon hopes to understand the complexities of development issues and further his interests in disaster relief. His hobbies include cooking different cuisines, dancing, writing, reading, and karaoke with his friends.

LAUREN REEF: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Lauren is from North Carolina, where she also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology with a minor in International Studies at North Carolina State University. After graduation, Lauren decided to gain experience in development by volunteering with Peace Corps. She was assigned to work in Paraguay, where she spent three years working as a health volunteer. Her first two years were spent working primarily on reproductive health education and improved cookstove projects in a small rural community. In her third year she moved to a city and continued working with cookstove projects as well as collaborating with Plan International on youth initiatives. Lauren hopes to use her MDP degree to pursue a career in Program Evaluation.

HAYLEY ROBINETT: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Hayley grew up in Saudi Arabia, but currently lives in Ormond Beach, Florida. Her interest in international relations and development has been influenced by her academic, professional, and personal opportunities to live in and visit more than thirty countries. Hayley graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and French. She spent a semester studying abroad in France’s Loire Valley before finding an English tutoring position on the island of Corsica. After graduation, Hayley served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, where she worked on various health, educational, and environmental issues. In this capacity, her primary goals were to educate local community members on health issues such as Malaria, HIV/AIDs, and nutrition, and to implement behavior change programs throughout the community. She also organized and facilitated the construction of an additional two-classroom block for the local junior high school. Hayley’s development interests include basic education and educational policy, public health, and women’s empowerment. She enjoys baseball, cooking, traveling, and anything to do with the beach!

ROBERT SHANNON: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Robert grew up in Virginia, but completed high school and college in Atlanta, Georgia, where he graduated from Morehouse College. While at Morehouse College he studied psychology with a focus on African American Male Identity. Leaning on his background and resources in Atlanta, Robert worked within his community to mentor at-risk youth and teenage fathers. He also studied in Ghana where he shifted his focus to international affairs. Robert began to intern abroad, studying sustainable development and identity orchestration across varying context. Most Recently, Robert worked as the Program Coordinator for the Morehouse Pan-African Global Experience, a study abroad program, where he had the opportunity to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, service learning, and sustainable development projects in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo. His development interests include economic sustainability, ethical systems, gender equality, and African politics. He also enjoys reading, running, travel, and playing the Blues on guitar.

BARRETT SMITH: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Barrett is a born and raised Texan pursuing a dual Master of Divinity and Master's in Development Practice. After completing his undergraduate degree, he worked for three years as a minister at Carpenter's Church in Lubbock, TX where he accompanied many men and women who were living on the streets. In addition to typical pastoral activities, he engaged in social work and community activism and development. His favorite projects included the development of a community garden and tent city. He also lost many games of dominoes and billiards. The real importance, however, was found in the relationships developed within the community. Barrett has traveled internationally in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.  He enjoys riding a bicycle, playing basketball and board games, and cultivating fruits and veggies.​

LAURA WAGNER: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Lara graduated cum laude from Goucher College. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts, Lara served in the Peace Corps where she worked closely with low-income students in Khovd, Mongolia. She also served on the Peace Corps Volunteer Advisory Council and Peer Support Network. Lara later moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she worked with two NGOs aiding indigent women in universities and children of garbage scavengers, respectively. Since returning to the United States, Lara has taken courses in evaluation and grant writing in addition to founding Skylight Consulting, a consulting firm serving nonprofits. Through the MDP program, Lara hopes to expand her evaluations skills in real-world settings and collaborate with host country nationals in developing countries. In her free time Lara volunteers with homeless teens, hosts dinner parties and travels anywhere she can.

TANYA WITLEN: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Tanya is a New Jersey native, but has growing southern roots. She spent her undergraduate years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science. Her undergraduate research focused on marine and limnological biogeochemical systems. She hopes to apply her environmental science background to her MDP studies by focusing on the impact of development on water quality and coral reef ecosystems. Since graduation, she has taught science in Thailand and worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for Reading Partners in Charleston, South Carolina. Tanya enjoys swimming, cooking, and watching college basketball.

HELENA WORRALL: Master's in Development Practice: Emory University

Originally from the south of England, Helena attended the University of St Andrews in Scotland, graduating in 2014 with a BSc in Sustainable Development. Her undergraduate degree had a strong environmental emphasis, focusing on subjects such as resource management, climate change and environmental ethics. During the summer of 2012 Helena had the privilege of travelling to Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, spending a month volunteering with a Burundian-led NGO in Gitega. Her time in East Africa served to broaden her interest in development work to include topics such as community empowerment, peace-building and poverty alleviation. Having also travelled widely in Europe with longer trips to Mexico and Australia, Helena has fostered a strong interest in different cultures and foreign languages. In her free time she enjoys tennis, korfball, skiing and photography.