Owen Fitzgerald, Therese Hart and Liia Khalikova will embark on missions this month for Catholic Relief Services.
CRS has selected the three graduate students from Fordham University to participate in the 2018 International Peace and Development Travel Scholarship Program. They are graduating from Fordham’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) and are being assigned, starting this month, to work with CRS—Fitzgerald in Burkina Faso in West Africa; Ms. Hart in Manila in the Philippines; and Ms. Khalikova in Haiti. The mission trips typically last five to six months.
“My time at Fordham has prepared me for this in a number of ways,” said Fitzgerald, 32, in a Dec. 27 phone interview. “Fordham has enabled me to perform a deep-dive study of political economy, focusing specifically on international development.”
Fitzgerald, who has traveled abroad extensively for work and study, added, “I have a fervent desire to put my faith into action…I want to do all that I can to serve those who are less fortunate than I am.” He said CRS provides much support through the program, “looking out for us” in regard to professional goals, and “for our safety.”
Burkina Faso is an arid nation that faces serious agricultural issues. Fitzgerald will assist CRS in promoting food security and better sanitation through the school system. Before studying at Fordham, Fitzgerald was a Peace Corps volunteer in neighboring Mali. He is originally from the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey.
Ms. Hart, 27, said she thinks the mission “will be quite an adventure.”
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she noted. “Fordham has an excellent International Political Economy and Development program, one that helps us get ready for the real world.” She said she hopes she can contribute to CRS’ work in Emergency Response and Recovery programs during her internship, “thereby living out my faith and working for the common good.”
Ms. Hart will work at the CRS office in Manila for six months—monitoring development projects CRS sponsors in Indonesia, Micronesia and East Timor. The projects include efforts to help residents receive food, water and essential services after a natural disaster. Before her Fordham studies, Ms. Hart served as a Jesuit volunteer in Micronesia for two years. She is from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.
Ms. Khalikova, 24, said studying at Fordham with IPED “gave me an opportunity to learn in the classroom from the professors, in daily life from my classmates who have experience working in the development area, and through our study and project immersion trips abroad.”
Program coordinators noted that Haiti has suffered a number of natural disasters in recent years, and that Ms. Khalikova will assist with communications strategy, including market research. She comes from Tartarstan, which is part of the Russian Federation, and is studying on a Fulbright Fellowship.
At Fordham, all three graduate students have specialized in international development as well as in the management and assessment of development projects. They are on track to receive their master’s degrees this year.