Peace Corps Blog

This is a blog of my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in South Africa. My job title is a capacity builder, which means I help increase the effectiveness of a local NGO that does AIDS/HIV related work.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's Next

As my Peace Corps service is coming to a close, I am gearing up for a big transition and the next step in my life. Briefly, I mentioned earlier that I was working on applying to graduate school. After months of waiting (and worrying that I was overly ambitious in applying to renowned schools), I heard from my first choice school… that I got in. This was back in March, but in the months since, more details have arrived.

So, much to my delight, I will be moving to Boston and starting at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the middle of August. The program is in their Engineering Systems Division, and is a Masters of Science in Technology and Public Policy.

When applying to graduate school, my primary interest was to look at the emergence of hierarchal systems on a societal level. Particularly, I have been drawn to how people increasingly fit into much larger systems (corporations, governments, etc), and how this leads to more innovation, but also the larger systems take on an identity of their own. For my applications, I ended up writing a statement of purpose that explains this concept in more detail and I have since posted it online (if you are interested in reading it, click here).

The program I will be attending is an ideal match for my interests, as I will be able to work with professors who specialize in such emergent systems and their role within businesses today. And I will be able to approach this topic from the angle of economics and policy, which provide great tools for understanding the catalysts of such emergence and how emergent systems can best be utilized in the coming years.

Over the course of the two year program, I will study the economics and policy and a science specialization (relating to human systems and business, most likely). In addition, between my work as a research assistant and my studies, I will select, research and write a thesis of my choice. Already, I have begun looking into potential research assistantships and contacting professors, which will help provide the research and focus needed to do this thesis.

Currently, I am quite excited about the opportunity of returning to academia. Over the course of the two years since finishing my undergraduate degree, I realize how important the atmosphere of learning and like-minded individuals is to me. So I eagerly look forward to MIT. But also, I have come to appreciate what an important transition is approaching. Over these two years, I have gained great perspective and learned a lot about both myself and people in general. Returning from a quiet, somewhat isolated rural life in South Africa and jumping into the business of graduate school (as well as living on the East coast for the first time) will be a substantial shift. In preparation for that, I have started writing down some of the important events and experiences of my service here, just so I will not lose track of what I gained and learned here. In addition, I will be returning to New Mexico for a few weeks prior to starting graduate school to ease into the transition and have some time with my family before embarking on my next two year journey.


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