NEF Adds Student Interns to Staff

Partnership with Syracuse University allows NEF to offer 11 students the opportunity to gain substantive experience in international development.

The Near East Foundation has recently added eleven student interns and assistants to its staff, bringing together graduate and undergraduates across a variety of programs to work together in the Foundation’s Syracuse headquarters. Interns come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds—between them they hold seven foreign citizenships and speak eight languages—but all were drawn to the NEF’s mission to promote sustainable development in the Middle East and North Africa.

Zach Andersson is a first year graduate student pursuing a joint master’s in public administration (MPA) and international relations. He focuses on global development, negotiation and conflict resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction, with a geographic focus on Africa. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, he spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda. Zach provides project management support to the Sudan office and is helping to develop an organization-wide strategy on natural resource management.

Toma Grigoryan is a recent graduate of Syracuse University’s undergraduate political science program. “I was immediately drawn to NEF because of a personal connection to its roots,” she says. “NEF was created during the Armenian Genocide as an effort to save lives and provide aid to the persecuted people. This hits home with me because I am Armenian.” Toma has been working with NEF’s microfinance project in Armenia. She plans to return to school for a Master’s degree in public administration within the next few years.

Karla Parra is an MPA student from Manzanillo, Mexico pursuing a certificate in post-conflict reconstruction with a concentration in international development. She received in her bachelor’s in public relations from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. and has been working on developing promotional materials for NEF’s education projects. Having previously worked in the private sector, Karla wanted to get involved with the foundation because she saw the opportunityas, “the perfect way to expand into the international public sector arena,” she says. “I was inspired by the accomplishments that NEF has achieved thus far in countries that I didn’t have much experience in and I sought to be a part of that.”

Harimanda “Hari” Razafindramanana is an MPA student from Madagascar, who holds a bachelor’s in business administration and Finance from Michigan State University. Hari began working with NEF as a program assistant intern after hearing about the opportunity through Maxwell. “The task on hand goes along my career trajectory as I intend to work in international organizations and ultimately [look for] a job at the UN or World Bank doing monitoring and evaluation or microfinance,” he says.

Andrea Rosko is a senior at Syracuse University from Scotch Plains, N.J. pursing a bachelor’s in international relations and Middle Eastern studies. She spent a summer studying abroad in Cairo, where she became interested in the culture and politics of the Middle East. Getting involved with NEF seemed a great opportunity to pursue her new passion. She is currently working on NEF projects in Sudan and Palestine, liaising with field staff and developing work plans and past performance references. About her plans for the future, she says: “I am looking to study abroad again in the Middle East or Northern Africa, as well as join the Peace Corps and continue to help underrepresented populations as a career.” She adds that the internship has given her a “better understanding of the issues facing the regions that NEF is involved with.”

Andy Savoy-Burke is an MPA student from Buffalo, N.Y. who came to the NEF after volunteering for two years in Honduras with the Peace Corps. He holds a bachelor’s in international development studies and political science from McGill, and is working at the foundation as a program intern focusing on governance projects. After graduation, he hopes to “work on governance and government capacity-building projects with USAID and NGOs,” he says. “[That] is exactly what I am [learning to do] with NEF.”

Amy Bonilla is an MPA student from Syracuse who received her bachelor’s in international relations and communications from Stanford. As NEF’s development assistant, she has been working with donors and partners to keep them up-to-date on foundation accomplishments. Connecting with donors has been of particular interest to Amy. “Some have a very personal connection to the stories of the people we are working with abroad, either through their own experiences or through those of their families; it is very uplifting to see their dedication to our cause.”

The other interns at the Syracuse office are Emily Warne ‘11, Kat Lindemann MPA ‘11, and Catherine Schur ‘12.

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