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Careers: Recent Graduates

Jillian Baker '04

Matt Van Geest

I am a local institutional capacity building project assistant. It is quite a title. I work in Uganda with four area development programs with World Vision. That means I get to support and mentor groups that World Vision works with. This could be faith based groups, little CVOs, NGOs already registered in the country. Some groups are small with one leader and want to grow. The other half of my role is to get the local World Vision staff on board with a new partnership strategy which has swept up the organization. Previously there was a lack of coordination and poor leadership. My role is to fix that. The ultimate goal is to create a center of learning and excellence here in Uganda on partnerships.

What sparked your interest in development?

It started with my Mother. She has always been a strong influence and been very active in showing love to people in our town through hospitality and baking and being kind and a good listener and demonstrating love to everyone she encounters. When I went to Ghana it was put into my eyes that there are so many people who don't have access to love and don't know that God loves them. It was exciting to travel; it was an extreme high and it was magical. Not only did I find great pleasure in it, I found that I could contribute and really practice some of the values I saw demonstrated growing up. This time they were more my own.

If you could, what would you have done differently with your time at Calvin?

I changed quite a bit in my time at Calvin. I started in biology and was thinking I would go to Med School. Then I switched to literature, which was my passion, and then added development. I never took an econ course at Calvin and I took only one political science class. I should have taken more political science; it was so interesting. Social work or sociology would have also been very helpful, but didn't appeal to me at the time. In general, I would have taken more classes that were pertinent to development.

What is the "core of development" to you?

I would revert to development as a process…. the whole idea of learning, education, and participation for social change (Pablo Freire – Consciousness Raising). With that said, there are large factors in play that hinder development in big ways, like abuse of power and the destruction of natural resources.

Advice to current IDS Students:

Stick to what you enjoy and what you are passionate about; find a way to make that work. It is an adventure and it can be a challenging one. You have to make sure you are committed and passionate about what you are doing. As you go along in your career, make sure you are committed to something and someplace. Really be committed to what you are doing and show integrity in the areas that you choose to be in.