Since graduating in May 2014, I have been fortunate to be involved in quite a few interesting projects and programs as a consultant. In reflecting on these opportunities, there are three key ways my graduate studies at the Center for International Education (CIE) has furthered my career: 1) applying my graduate research findings to my work, 2) nurturing critical awareness of important issues in our world, and 3) encouraging exploration of interests, particularly innovation.


It has become evident the hard work I put into my master’s thesis on the fidelity of psychosocial support programs for children in schools in crisis-affected contexts has been fruitful. Soon after I graduated, I worked with Save the Children Norway on a project in the Philippines integrating psychosocial wellbeing into the Department of Education’s Disaster Risk Reduction teacher professional development post-Typhoon Haiyan. Since then, I supported Save the Children US, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on psychosocial support and social emotional learning initiatives for education in crises- and conflict-affected contexts.


After a Focus Group Discussion for Save the Children in February 2015 with Pinamopoan Elementary School teachers and fellow consultant, Ananda Galappatti in Capoocan, Leyte, the Philippines


I feel one of the strengths of CIE is its commitment to social justice, the application of which is the encouragement for students to be critically aware of issues within and surrounding education during rich discussions in formal classes and informal exchanges with members of its diverse learning community – students, faculty, and alumni. While I certainly had this lens before I began my studies, it was strengthened during my time at the Center. One application of this social justice lens was my work with fellow CIE student Ben Herson on documentaries for MTV’s Rebel Music series, including a role as an Associate Producer for the Turkey: Flowers of Gezi Park episode, which explored the socio-political conflicts in Turkey post-Gezi park.



While there are many international education graduate programs, few provide the flexibility with only three of 12 required courses, encouraging students to explore their interests. Coming from a creative background, I appreciated this aspect of the program, and have continued my interest in and commitment to innovation in my career pursuits / opportunities. In 2015, I was the Team Leader for the IRC’s pilot education technology entitled Connect to Learn aimed to support Syrian refugee teachers’ professional development needs via an online/offline cloud in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (pictured on the left). In 2016, I supported War Child Holland’s scaling up of Can’t Wait to Learn, a program which develops educative games on tablets for refugees and host communities affected by conflict to access quality education – interestingly, the game design integrates elements of psychosocial support.


Importantly, CIE provides many opportunities for students to explore their diverse interests with support from an active learning community. I would encourage current students to engage this community during and after their time at the Center, without whom I would not have had the professional opportunities since graduation. [5-16]


An update from September 2023


As a result of life circumstances that were significantly altered due in part to Covid-19, I found myself with the opportunity (and need) to embark on a consulting journey.  With my relocating from the Middle East to a small island outside of Seattle, Washington, I sought an alternative. Similar circumstances affected my colleague Yaëlle Stempfelet who is splitting her time between NYC and Antigua, Guatemala


Our individual and collective experiences at CIE were rich, and most importantly, allowed us to cultivate lifelong friendships. Thus in early 2022, in order to do consulting work remotely, we worked together to create Wonder Lab, a consulting team that provides program design, technical support, research, and evaluation services for education programming across the humanitarian-development nexus, is an example of what is possible through these connections born at UMass. 


A recent noteworthy example of their work is the Youth needs assessment for and with Ukrainian youth residing in Romania and Moldova (link is external) that they designed and conducted for the Norwegian Refugee Council. In summary, they found that hope keeps youth going despite the challenges they face. This hope helps youth persevere, but also creates a sense of uncertainty which affects how they navigate life as a refugee. [9-23]




Entrance Year: 
Graduation Year: 
5-year span: 
CIE Graduate