A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and finance major, Michael Roscitt studied abroad on SIT’s Uganda: Development Studies program based in Kampala. Mike describes how this experience helped him obtain a position with the global nonprofit organization, Innovations for Poverty Action.
Why did you decide to spend a semester with SIT Study Abroad in Uganda?
I wanted a challenging and unique experience that would introduce me to parts of the world I had never seen.
What types of hands on experiences did you have that advanced your understanding of challenges and opportunities in the field of development?
SIT’s model of experiential learning introduced me to many different aspects of development. I worked hand-in-hand with NGOs and development organizations in the classroom and in the field. These groups introduced me to a diverse array of economic, social, and political issues, opening my eyes to the complex web of poverty which cannot be untangled by any one person or organization. These experiences were incredibly humbling and have helped form my personal expectations as I now enter the development field professionally.
What types of skills and knowledge did you learn through your practicum project in Uganda?
My practicum was with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) to help evaluate its private sector development projects in Uganda. I worked at a grain milling plant in urban Kampala and also at a tea factory/plantation in rural Fort Portal to compare the effectiveness of USADF’s programs in urban and rural settings. This challenging and special experience taught me how to independently carry out a complex field research project in a developing country.
What role has the SIT staff played in your experiences, both during the semester and afterwards?
The SIT staff played an absolutely critical role during my semester in Uganda and have remained instrumental in my life since, guiding me on many academic and career endeavors. They are the foundation of the SIT Uganda program and are the primary reason why the program has changed the lives of so many students that have passed through its doors.
What type of work will you be doing in your new job with Innovations for Poverty Action?
For the next two years, I will be working in Malawi as a field associate for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a US-based nonprofit research organization with operations in 42 countries. Using rigorous research techniques, IPA works to develop and test solutions to problems faced by the poor in developing countries.
I will be leading the implementation of a large-scale research project on Access to Savings on behalf of two US-based professors who are leading scholars in the field. By helping to design and test a program that adapts to the local context and to the real behaviors of people, I hope to contribute in a small way to the acquisition of knowledge that will help empower communities living in extreme poverty.
How has SIT Study Abroad shaped the way you look at the world?
More than anything, SIT helped me realize that we are one global family. When people living on the other side of the world stop being statistics and become family members, it is impossible to ignore the many problems that continue to embattle the citizens of the world we live in.