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For Community-Driven Global Development

Alumni Profiles

Our internships catapult careers.

Meet just a few of our successful alumni.

Dyonne Pennings 
interned at the Institute for Therapy and Investigation (ITEI) in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2011. She supported ITEI’s efforts by researching international human rights law on behalf of victims of torture and state violence. During her internship, she learned about the process, and difficulties, of human rights enforcement in this setting. After completing her internship in Bolivia, Dyonne completed an internship with the Jurisdiction, Complementarity, and Cooperation Division of the International Criminal Court. She says, “FSD has helped to make sure my internship was well-guided and a valuable learning experience. Definitely, do an internship abroad if you’re considering working in development or human rights to experience its local difficulties and dimensions.”

While in India, Jazmin Maya worked with Jatan Sansthan, an organization that focuses on youth and women empowerment. During her internship, Jazmin worked with their Action for Adolescent Girls (AAG) Project. AAG focuses on empowering adolescent girls in the villages of Khewara. Jazmin's role with Jatan was to create an activities booklet, which the youth leaders could use during icebreakers and other youth activities. They asked her to include some traditional Indian games as well as other activities that were used around the world. Speaking about her internship, Jazmin said, "Before my internship, I was passionate about empowering others, and was very excited to have the opportunity to do that through FSD in India. While reflecting in India, and after I returned to the U.S., I realized that what I was struggling with most was empowering myself. That became my biggest challenge and fight, once I realized it. Upon this realization, I was in shock that I had gone over to India and to work on women and girl empowerment when I needed empowerment myself. Even now more than a year later empowering myself is still something I am working on, but because of my experience I want to work empowering youth so they can realize their full capacity long before I did."

While in Nicaragua Jose Sandoval worked with FSD community partner, Alternativa, which is a microfinance organization located in Masaya. During his nine-week internship, Jose worked with Alternativa to create a structured process, which allows Alternativa to train, equip, and unite small business owners that work in similar business sectors the ability to work as a group. "I came away from my internship with a completely new perspective of how I view my life in relation to other people’s lives in the rest of the world. It helped me understand how fortunate I am to be a university student in the U.S. In part because there is a myriad of opportunities within my reach. In a nutshell, I realized that I am among the world’s top 1% in terms of the opportunities within my reach."

Shomik Verma interned in Salta, Argentina with Amigos del Árbol, an environmental conservation NGO made up of mainly environmental engineers in Salta, Argentina. He worked on several different projects during his internship focusing his main project on helping improve a nature reserve in the nearby villa San Lorenzo. Speaking about his experience with FSD, Shomik said, "My last project about solar water heaters was particularly impacting for me. Once I came back to Duke, I became much more interested in solar thermal power as an alternative energy source. I have started a project developing a Smart Shelter for refugees as an engineering solution to a critical humanitarian crisis. This Smart Shelter is able to provide several amenities to inhabitants, such as electricity through photovoltaic solar panels and hot, clean water with a solar water heater and a greywater filtration device. My time with FSD helped me realize the potential of clean energy solutions in areas without access to traditional energy types, helping international development in sustainable ways."

Andrea Scali served in Udaipur, India in 2011. He did research for a microfinance NGO, Prayatna Samiti. He enjoyed learning about India’s culture and sharing stories of life in different cultures with other FSD interns. He says, “FSD made me realize what it really meant to be working in the development sector.” Andrea has remained in contact with other FSD interns he met while abroad, who share his interests in development. Currently, Andrea works for the Volunteers Association for International Service (AVSI) in South Sudan, where he is the Area Team Leader of the Ikoto County, Eastern Equatoria State, and the program manager for the Basic Services Fund project. His work with FSD helped Andrea launch his current career, noting that “FSD gave me my first opportunity, without which I wouldn’t be here in South Sudan now. They really prepare you and are always there with a smile and all that you would need.”

Brittany Watts was an FSD intern in Udaipur, India with Seva Mandir, an NGO that works on rural and tribal development issues in the Rajasthan area. Her project involved surveying youth in the Palesar area about their experiences and demographic information. Brittany enjoyed her home-stay experience, saying, “through living with them, I was exposed to the food and culture of the area in a very direct sense, and enjoyed family trips to other parts of India.” Brittany says that, as result of her experience, “I have modeled myself into a better leader and am able to use this experience as evidence of my social prowess for other opportunities.” Brittany graduated from Vanderbilt University and worked for Teach for America Greater New Orleans Corps.

Britton Tuck was an FSD intern in Kakamega, Kenya. She worked at the Kakamega Forest Dispensary where she trained a group of teachers on high-priority health issues specific to that area, brokered a partnership between the dispensary and Community Action for Rural Development (CARD) to host HIV/AIDS nutrition education days, and gave health education lectures to school groups. Britton speaks highly of her host family, saying “without them, my time in Kakamega would not have been so special. My mama took me in as her own and truly helped me learn about the Kenyan culture through the language, the food and the community.” She was lucky enough to be there for the birth of her host brother’s first child. “They named her Britton. I was, and still am, honored.” After her internship, Britton served in AmeriCorps VISTA, where she helped start a nonprofit to decrease the public school dropout rate.

Heather Kowalski was an FSD intern in Kakamega, Kenya in the summer of 2010. There, she worked at a health clinic and evaluated the needs of the community and clinic at a grassroots level while developing self-sustainable projects. Heather helped create an efficient process for attending to the clinic’s patients, distributed health information to community members, and set up educational seminars on topics such as malaria and pregnancy. She says, “My main goal was to get the community to identify the clinic as a resource center, not just somewhere to go when someone gets sick.” Heather formed many lasting relationships while in Kenya with her host family, FSD staff, and her fellow interns. She also participated in an FSD giving circle. After her internship, Heather has accepted a two-year fellowship as a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She says her experience with FSD “opened my eyes to the challenges that communities face in regards to healthcare and development, and gave me hands-on experiences on the issues that I had only read about in my undergraduate studies.”

Jannicka Murphy was an FSD intern in Kakamega, Kenya at the Shibwe hospital. She built two farms, one for the HIV support group, and one for the hospital, while improving the technical capacity of the organization by teaching computer literacy to the staff. Jannicka believes that her work abroad has “helped me shape my goals by realizing that I wanted a career where I can engage in new communities and help in whatever way possible.” Currently, Jannicka is the project coordinator for Marin Grassroots, a local nonprofit that 'works to advance social equity and strengthen the voice of underrepresented communities in public policy decision-making to reduce poverty and improve quality of life.' She facilitates their communication, engages local policymakers and community leaders for social equity advocacy projects, reconstructs their website, and plans an inaugural dance festival to embrace diversity within the community. She says “I had a great experience! My time with FSD taught me how to interact with individuals on a new level, in turn enabling me to build upon my ability to create personal and professional relationships.”

Jon Blackwell interned with FSD in Mombasa, Kenya in 2009. He worked on the microfinance program for the Likoni Community Development Programme (LICODEP), a local development NGO, visiting clients, making collections, performing due diligence, and providing loans. Jon initially applied for his internship because, he says, “I wanted to transition out of my career in finance and the work sounded interesting. It turns out that I loved the work so much that it sparked an entirely different career in development.” Currently, he is the Director of Product Development for InVenture, which works to improve the accounting and financial literacy of microenterprises. He is glad that his experience helped him break out of his routine, and says that living in a developing country provided “all new experiences which were very exciting.” Overall, Jon says, “FSD provided me with invaluable field experience that has helped with all of my subsequent work abroad.”

Malia Schroeder was an FSD intern with Pro Mujer Bolivia in Cochabamba in 2009. She launched a human resources' non-monetary incentives program while revamping the outreach capabilities of their marketing team. After Bolivia, she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations from Hawaii Pacific University, and two weeks later landed a position as a translation project coordinator for a well-known translation company. She has since become project manager and resides in Hong Kong. While gaining professional experience, she one day hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Local Economic Development.

Mary DeBartolo served in Jinja, Uganda in 2007, where she worked for Saint Francis Health Care Services. There, she was involved in a tuberculosis program where she learned how TB was treated, how people with TB were viewed in the community, and advocated for treatment adherence to TB medication. She enjoyed her home-stay experience and says that she was “Incredibly fortunate to work at a fascinating clinic and live with an amazing and empowered woman.” She says, “My summer in Uganda helped me see where my true passions lie – at a macro-policy level – and helped shape my future educational career.” Mary’s experiences with FSD confirmed her interest in global health, made her a unique candidate when interviewing for legal jobs, and helped her receive an externship opportunity with the World Health Organization. Mary graduated from the University of Michigan School of Public Health with an MPH in health management and policy, and the University of Michigan Law School with a JD.

Michelle Trone was an FSD intern in Udaipur, India, from January-April 2011, working for the Institute for Local Self Governance and Responsible Citizenship. In her time abroad, she “learned how to live in a culture far-removed from Western comforts, and realized that my passion lies in pursuing international affairs both academically and professionally.” Currently, Michelle works as a Watch Officer in the Global Security Program of the World Bank Group, where she assesses the impact of political and security developments. Michelle cites her time with FSD as a major factor in gaining the experience needed to keep up with such a demanding position and encourages anyone who is considering intern abroad programs to go for it. Michelle calls her experience with FSD, “one of the most life-changing experiences I have ever had,” and is already planning to return to India.

Nicholas Egger-Bovet was an intern at FSD’s Headquarters in San Francisco in the summer of 2010. He helped expand the year-end report database, which automatically generated project statistics, and produced a 16-page Giving Circle report on India. Immediately after his internship with FSD, Nicholas won a prestigious Projects of Peace grant for a microenterprise project he devised and implemented in Chile. Upon graduating from Claremont McKenna College this semester, Nicholas worked as a Financial Institution Specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Rebecca Rouse is an FSD alumna from the summer of 2002 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. While abroad, she worked at a school run by the Salvation Army, acting as a teacher’s aide to two different elementary school classrooms. Currently, Rebecca works as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank. Rebecca has kept in close contact with her host family as well as FSD program coordinators in Bolivia. She says, “My experience with FSD gave me more direction in what I wanted to do, and piqued my intellectual curiosity.


Shaina Wamsley spent 12 weeks in Iganga, Uganda working with the Integrated Disabled Women Activities (IDIWA). Her first project during her internship was to build on an existing IDIWA project that helped locals learn how to grow sustainable kitchen gardens. She then worked with a local school for the blind where she wrote a grant which provided funding for enough students' instruments to start a music-dance-drama club, which was used to sensitize the community to disability stigma. After her internship, Shaina attended Harvard Law School, and interned with the Bureau of Special Education Appeals for the Department of Education. Shaina reports, “I returned from my time abroad in a more positive mindset, one that has taught me to be much more independent in my own daily life.”

Alexandra Mills
interned in Cochabamba, Bolivia with el Instituto para el Dessarrollo Humano (IDH). IDH works with people living with HIV and AIDS in Cochabamba and the surrounding municipalities. Alexandra worked with the health and education teams at IDH to complete two projects. Her experience in Cochabamba helped her discern which path to take in development and health. "Through working with IDH I became more assured that I am interested in health and violence towards women. My summer with FSD taught me how to survive in a foreign language speaking country and I was able to prove to myself that I could do it and would like to live abroad in my future. Additionally, I learned to be truly independent, a skill which is often not developed in our higher learning atmospheres in the United States."