Class of 2014
Birgit is a culturally savvy graduate, oriented towards International Management with a strong preference for Social Entrepreneurship, in particular microfinance. She is very enthusiastic about Vittana’s mission of building educated minds through peer-to-peer lending and is happy to be part of the team for the coming 3 months in Bolivia.
Previous to her fellowship, Birgit has been doing her Master’s exchange semester in Budapest and participated successfully in a seminar with the topic of “Social Entrepreneurship” at Bocconi University in Milan. Her international experience in Monterrey (Mexico) has fostered her interest in Latin America and International Development.
Birgit is hoping to leverage her knowledge in marketing, finance and economics in order to help Vittana expanding its outreach in cooperation with its current MFIs.
Silvia Torres is thrilled to return to her native Peru to help advance education and eradicate poverty. She strongly believes that education is the key to long-term economic growth and equality.
Silvia has 5 years of brand management experience in regional and global roles at Procter & Gamble, most recently as an Assistant Brand Manager for North America Female Shave. Prior to P&G, she worked in marketing and ad sales for television broadcasters CNN and Univision in New York City. She is excited to apply her marketing and product development skills to creating micro-loan student programs in Peru. This will be one of the most meaningful endeavors she has undertaken.
Silvia holds a MBA from the Simon School - University of Rochester, NY and a BA in Economics from Binghamton University, NY. She enjoys traveling with her husband Stephen, who will be joining her in Peru to practice tropical medicine. On her spare time, she loves to paint, sculpt, and volunteer for art non-profits. She was born and raised in Peru until the age of 12.
Silvia will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in Lima, Peru this winter 2014.
Jessica grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2012 where she majored in history and sociology. During her senior year, she wrote her capstone paper on East African charter schools in Minnesota. With strong interests in education and women’s empowerment in the international context, Jessica has interned for the Center for American Progress, Abt Associates, and the American Institute for Research. During college, the spent time in Honduras building a water sanitation system, traveled to El Salvador to volunteer with orphanages and nutrition centers, and spent a semester studying history in London. Since graduating, Jessica spent a summer interning for a fair trade non-profit organization in Guatemala called Mercado Global, where she enjoyed working with indigenous women to sell their artisan crafts on the global market. Following that, she spent a year in India as a World Partners Fellow working for a HIV-prevention NGO called SANGRAM, and loved seeing firsthand the real change that grassroots NGOs can make. Jessica hopes to continue working on issues of international development focusing on education, social justice and promoting gender equality. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, bike riding, and doing yoga. Jessica will serve as a Fellow in Kampala, Uganda in Winter 2014.
Lisa comes to Vittana with a desire to use her business consulting skills to expand access to education for students in developing countries. A long-time lender on Kiva, she believes deeply in the power of microfinance to lift people out of poverty and credits her own education for the opportunities she’s received. Lisa grew up in China, the UK, and Canada before attending the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, she was an avid volunteer and interned in the public and private sector at the UN Information Center in Washington DC, HSBC Securities in New York, and a Japanese engineering firm in Beijing, China.
Since graduating from Penn, she’s worked in New York and the SF Bay Area to advise Fortune 500 companies on mergers & acquisitions and strategic business development, giving her exposure to a variety of industries. A business trip to India in 2012 opened her eyes to developing countries and inspired her to repurpose her skills to make a positive social impact in the world. She is grateful for the opportunity to take a sabbatical to join Vittana and experience Africa for the first time.
Lisa will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Kenya in the spring of 2014 and looks forward to furthering Vittana’s mission to empower young people through education.
Rashmi is looking to use her finance and management background to promote microfinance in India. She holds an MBA from India and pursued her MS in Quantitative Finance from University of Rochester, New York. After working in the financial services sector in India and the US, she took a sabbatical to pursue her passion to explore social services sector. She volunteered with a rickshaw centric social start up in Varanasi, India, where she helped the business in process optimization and financial reporting. She recently completed another volunteer project with a minority-run ethnotourism social business, Sapa O’Chau, in Sapa, North Vietnam.
She strongly believes in the power of education and is looking to serve with Vittana in India.
Dacon is an undergraduate student studying at Brigham Young University. He served a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico working to help people develop attributes and life skills that would allow them to be successful in whatever enterprise they chose to undertake. His other international experience includes backpacking through Vietnam, Mexico, China, and the Bahamas. Dacon believes that everyone deserves a chance to pursue his or her own potential and support his or her family. For that reason, he is very excited to be working with Vittana and plans to use this opportunity to help people learn about the opportunities that are available to help them develop marketable skills so that they will be able improve their own lives as well as the lives of those who live in their community. Dacon believes that all human beings are interdependent and have a responsibility to care for and help one another, and that doing so is the only true way to reach sustainable success both for the individual and for society.
Suezette comes to Vittana excited by the opportunity to expand higher education access for young people in Africa. As a first generation college graduate and mentor to youths in underserved communities, she strongly believes in the power of education to break generational poverty cycles.
While pursuing a business degree at Cornell, she became interested in international business development and got the chance to study abroad in Spain and travel throughout Europe. Since graduating from Cornell, she has worked in New York advising companies on their Human capital strategies, operations, and processes across a variety of industries. Her recent business travels to India and Thailand this past year fueled her desire to leverage her business background to drive social change in developing communities across the world. She is excited by the opportunity to take a sabbatical to explore the inner workings of microfinance and build sustainable student loan programs in partnership with local MFIs in Africa.
Suezette will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Ghana in the Spring of 2014.
Class of 2013
Tito is a graduate student in the field of international development with particular experience and interest in the implementation of educational initiatives among high-risk and vulnerable communities. Specifically, and for the past 10 years, he has lived and worked in over 8 different countries engaging himself professionally with diversified beneficiaries such as refugees, internally displaced people, rural communities, unlawful immigrants, and the economically disadvantaged. Among others, it was his experience managing a small-scale educational project in rural Ghana that cemented his commitment and passion for improving access to education among some of the most impoverished communities.
He is originally from Peru and attended the University of Pennsylvania (USA) and Brandenburg Technical University - Cottbus (Germany) as an undergraduate, obtaining a BSc. in Environmental and Resource Management from the latter. He is currently a graduate student of International Development at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and will be completing his second year of studies at the London School of Economics starting this fall.
Tito will be serving as a Vittana fellow in Vietnam this summer.
Vanessa Erskine comes to Vittana as a 2014 MBA candidate at Pepperdine University, which she is pursuing based on her passion for microfinance and it’s impact on rural communities and economies. She first came to Rwanda last year as a volunteer at an orphanage for street children where she fell in love with the people and the country. She holds a B.A. in studio art from San Francisco State University and also spent one year studying in Italy. Prior to starting graduate school she taught English as a second language in South Korea. Vanessa will be serving as a part-time Vittana Fellow in Rwanda for the summer of 2013. She looks forward to contributing to the advancement of Rwandan communities through Vittana loans.
Carmel believes education is the single most precious right of any human being in the world. An educated mind leads to a successful society which in turn creates a peaceful world. Looking at the 21st century, she knows that now need to support this right more than ever.
Carmel grew up in Jordan and had the fortune of gaining access to the best education her country has to offer at school and university levels. She recently returned from an internship in Bosnia and graduated as a chemical engineer. She will be pursuing a graduate degree in my field but decided to take some time off post-graduation to develop herself and gain new experiences. She knew the Vittana fellowship was the best opportunity to accomplish that. Through this fellowship, she plans to support as many students as possible to gain the best education available. She hope this will contribute in the creation of a better tomorrow for students, Jordan and the world at large.
Carmel will serve as a Fellow in Jordan this summer.
Feven is extremely excited about joining Vittana's MFI office in Lima, Peru for the summer. As a student of International Development in her undergraduate studies at American University as well as her current graduate studies at Tsinghua University, she is an advocate for the power of micro-finance in reaching people who would not otherwise traditionally be included in any type of banking system.
Having been raised in Ethiopia and having traveled to developing countries, Feven has come to understand transnational challenges and says she was fortunate enough to meet some of the most incredibly humble people. Over the years, she has grown passionate about different aspects of sustainable development and has worked for pan-African organizations both in Ethiopia and in Washington, D.C. As a firm believer in the vitality of education, she is eager to bring her prior experiences into South America to learn more about the social impacts of micro-loans for education.
Feven will serve as a Fellow this summer in Peru.
Jonathan is very excited to be working with Vittana to expand the impact of their model in Bolivia. Since graduating from Bowdoin College in 2008 with a degree in Mathematics and Economics, Jonathan has fomented a passion for microfinance and international development. For two years he worked for the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nicaragua where he supported a network of organizations in project development and implementation. During his time abroad, Jonathan was motivated by the power of connecting microfinance with capacity building, and he now looks to harness lessons learned as he takes on the challenge of being a Vittana Fellow.
After Nicaragua, Jonathan moved to New York City to be a Financial Advisor with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners. In that position he worked closely with a Community Development Credit Union to expand the financial inclusion of their member base and advance the financial capability of low income New Yorkers. This opportunity exposed Jonathan to the client side of microfinance, helping him gain a new perspective to the equation, which motivated him to return to international development and support the innovative work of Vittana.
Jonathan will be serving as a Fellow with Vittana for five months starting in the fall of 2013 in La Paz, Bolivia.
Josh is excited for the opportunity to contribute to a cause he believes in strongly, among a people he learned to love while serving a 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kenya and Tanzania. A long believer in the concept of a hand-up rather than a hand-out, he began loaning through Kiva several years ago, but always thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was something like this for student loans?". As you can imagine, Josh was thrilled to learn about Vittana and its mission.
Josh graduated suma cum laude in accounting from Utah Valley University. After graduating, he worked for 2 years as an operations analyst at Goldman Sachs, and is now pursuing an MBA at Brigham Young University. The one thing he likes more than social impact is his family--his wife Brandi and his two kids, Clara and Cy.
Josh will serve as a short-term Fellow in Rwanda this spring.
Over the years, Renata has had the opportunity to travel and work in various different countries in Europe, Asia, America and South America during which time she has witnessed first-hand deep rooted inequalities that people face on a daily basis, and the power that education has, to make the world a better place. As an Economics graduate, her passion is about creating new opportunities and enabling financial growth.
Since relocating to Mexico, she has had valuable exposure to international economics and business in a country that is experiencing rapid growth and -by educating the next generation- will promote a profound change creating lasting prosperity for their communities. She passionately believes that economic development starts with education; microfinance, specifically microloans for students, now is being considered as one of the most important and effective mechanism for poverty alleviation, so she welcomes the opportunity to volunteer with an organization that shares this vision.
Renata is a native Hungarian, fluent in English and Spanish, and will begin an MA in International Economy and Business through University Szechenyi Istvan, Hungary, in the fall of 2013.
She will serve as a part-time Fellow in Mexico for six months this year.
As a former Vittana Fellow (Rwanda, Summer 2011), Patrick is thrilled to continue supporting Vittana's mission after he graduates from the Ross MBA program at the University of Michigan in May 2013. At Ross, Patrick has dedicated his energy and time to learn more about how market-based approaches can support his passion: empowering individuals and entrepreneurs to generate long-term social impact in emerging markets. After working directly with social impact organizations in India and Bangladesh, Patrick is committed to supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets post-MBA while learning how to help them reach scale effectively.
Patrick is serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines for a month after graduation.
Nora's international experience includes a Bulgarian background, a childhood in Japan, studying abroad in Italy, and volunteering at a primary school in Tanzania. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in International Studies in 2011. She worked as a project manager at Epic, a healthcare software company striving to improve patient care on a global scale. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in the field of human rights and humanitarian aid at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) and plans to write her thesis on the impact of microfinance. She is very excited to combine her project management experience and passion for African economic development while serving as a fellow in Uganda during the fall of 2013.
Freddy is a corporate finance and strategy professional and has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, and Australia. He came to Vitanna after completing a volunteering assignment with Bankers without Borders in Cambodia. In that project, Freddy was able to gain insight to the challenges that MFIs are facing, particularly in balancing their own financial viability as a business with achieving the core social objectives.
‘Give man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for life.’ This sums up the difference that education can make to people’s lives. Having personally benefited from the government-run student loan program in Australia, Freddy sees Vitanna role to help in closing the gap in developing countries where the government is unable to provide a similar program. He looks forward to learn more about microfinance and to contribute his skills.
Freddy will serve as a Fellow in Indonesia this fall.
Fulvia strongly believes that education is the most transformative and effective tool that youth around the world can have to overcome the challenges they face daily. Moreover, she has come to understand that access to financial services is a cornerstone in helping individuals build a better future for themselves and that by harnessing the power of markets, an entire generation can be reached and lifted out of poverty. This - in addition to her passion for working with Latin American markets and creating market-based, scalable solutions - was her motivation to become a Vittana Fellow.
Fulvia is half-Mexican-half-Panamanian. She graduated from Monterrey’s Institute of Technology in 2011 with a BSc in Chemical Engineering. After graduation she ventured into Finance and Strategic Planning, working for the Latin America Strategic Planning Team of a global consumer bank. Her professional experiences - as well as her analytical skills and her entrepreneurial experiences in Mexico - made Fulvia a great fit for Vittana.
Fulvia will serve as a Fellow in the fall of 2013, launching Vittana's first partnership in Ecuador.
Mariah has a passion for development in both domestic and international contexts, with special interests in education and financial inclusion. She believes that development is a field that is successful when it incorporates many different industries and sectors and that education plays a central role in all aspects of the process. Mariah’s development and/or international experience includes working as a project assistant for the MicroInsurance Centre, LLC, conducting research and working for KidsGive in Freetown and Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone, studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica, interning with Caritas For Children, and other travel experiences.
Mariah is a graduate of Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin) where she studied Anthropology, Spanish and International Studies. She is looking forward to being a Vittana fellow for six months in Accra, Ghana starting in July of 2013.
Keith was born and raised in London. He studied Physics and Philosophy at Oxford University and a postgraduate Education at London University. He has traveled extensively worldwide. Keith’s first overseas experience was teaching math and science in a bush school in Kenya. Most of his subsequent career was in software documentation and training – in England, Saudi Arabia, France and California. Keith has now lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 some years. He was a Kiva Fellow at three MFIs in Mindanao, Philippines, Nov 2012-Mar 2013.
Keith will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Philippines this fall/winter.
Flavio Ariza Malagutti was raised in Brazil and lived there for eighteen years, up until he came to the US to attend college. In Brazil, most of his time was dedicated to school and tennis, competing in the national tennis circuit and practicing many hours a day. His commitment to the sport ultimately led him to the US, where he was recruited to play for the Eastern Washington University team before transferring to Seattle University. There,he graduated with a degree in Economics with specialization in International Economic Development.
After his Fellowship, he plans to return home to work and apply for graduate school with a focus in development economics.
Flavio will serve as a Fellow in Paraguay this Fall.
Aria Florant is very excited to be Vittana’s first Fellow in Nepal. Previously, she worked as the Director of Youth and Community Development at the Mural Music & Arts Project (MMAP) for two and a half years, where she launched a wrap-around leadership development program for high school students. She has also consulted for the San Mateo County Private Defender Program, where she helped incarcerated youth stay on track to graduate from college. Prior to working at MMAP, Aria worked for Foundation for a College Education and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.
Native to Colorado but with roots in California, Aria’s passion for youth empowerment, community development, and meaningful living guides her path in life. She holds a deep belief in the value of all people, and the importance of each and every person’s ability to feel free. Aria graduated from Stanford University with a major in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity focused on diversity in the arts and educational equity.
Spencer Goodfriend will serve as a as a Vittana fellow in Cambodia In late 2013 early 2014. He has been an entrepreneur, has experience working in the financial sector and has developed a particular interest in microfinance and its potential impact on global access to education.
Education has played a significant role in Spencer's own life. He hails from a family of public servants, including multiple teachers, and has a dual degree in Communications and English from Colorado State University, a Masters in International Development from the University of Denver and a TEFL Master's Diploma. As a tutor and mentor to at-risk youth, he saw the transformative power of self-realization when students made significant academic progress once they applied themselves.
Through his many travels, Spencer has seen firsthand the need for increased access to education in developing countries and has seen the dire consequences when access is restricted to the privileged few. He is passionate about giving a helping hand to others and feels that transferring knowledge is the greatest gift of all.
Spencer has worked in both nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies over the past few years and now looks to utilize his skills and have a broader reach and impact in Cambodia.
Mike recently finished implementing an aquaponics program in Guatemala that works to heighten students' interest and knowledge in science and environmental awareness. During his time in Guatemala, he worked with both Guatemalan and American students in setting up an online cultural exchange for students to share their experiences with one another. Mike graduated from Penn with degrees in Marketing and Environmental Management and worked for multiple tech start-ups in San Francisco before heading to Guatemala.
He will serve as a Vittana fellow for 4 months this fall in El Salvador before pursuing aquaculture research in Latin America.
Van Anh Do
Van Anh is looking forward to creating meaningful impact for disadvantaged people and adding value to international development practices.
Originating from Vietnam, Van Anh has had opportunities to observe and understand the difficulties of many people living in poverty, which intrigued her passion in helping them figure out ways to improve their lives. Van Anh has worked for four years in the nonprofit sector in Vietnam, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from National Economics University Hanoi. In her early career, she has played a significant role in successfully managing and implementing several projects on sustainability, energy efficiency, microfinance and livelihoods development. She is interested in engaging the private sector in social initiatives, using business and management knowledge for nonprofit purposes and finding innovative solutions to raise awareness and spur behavioral change, all which can be applied into different areas of the development sector.
Van Anh will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya for three months, starting in November 2013.
Felipe Cabezas is thrilled to be working with Vittana. He studied at the University of Virginia and then worked in Chile, where he helped a research team study a proposed hydroelectric project's impact on ecotourism. He then returned to the US, where he worked with Ashoka and GlobalGiving, supporting social entrepreneurs and helping to direct online donations to community social initiatives worldwide, respectively. Life has also made him a professional actor, and he is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Felipe will serve as a Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya this Fall.
Anja believes that fostering development is opportunity creation for those who do not have many options to choose from. As access to education is a fundamental human right giving graduates choices that would not have been possible for them before, Anja is excited to contribute her share to this important cause.
Anja has been studying in five different countries on three continents and has gathered experience in microfinance while working for a small farmer’s cooperative in Nicaragua. After graduating as a CEMS Master in International Management, she has been working in the strategy department of a commercial bank for two years back home in Austria. Taking research leave for her doctoral studies, Anja will be working as a Vittana fellow in La Paz, Bolivia this Fall/Winter 2013-14.
Sam’s international experience includes two years living in northern Peru, learning from an amazing people. Volunteering as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he met and worked with diligent, humble individuals who, despite their desire, were unable to progress and provide for basic needs due to a lack of marketable skills. Education, the great equalizer of humankind, was virtually unavailable. With one degree, lives would change and generations would be lifted out of poverty.
Upon returning from Peru, he committed to seek purpose and fulfillment in his career that extends beyond that which monetary compensation can give. He is currently a student at Brigham Young University with plans to go into impact investing, specializing in South American markets. He is excited about the wonderful learning opportunity he will receive this summer.
While at home in Utah, Sam loves spending time with his family, especially while skiing the “greatest snow on earth.” A passionate student, he plans to graduate soon from BYU with a double major in Finance and Spanish with hopes to peruse a joint degree in Business and Law after graduation.
Sam will serve as a Fellow in Bolivia this summer.
Working as an educator both domestically and internationally, Hattie has witnessed the power education has to change a student’s life. While teaching, however, she has met many more people for whom transformative educational opportunities have been denied. Lack of funding meant that higher education was simply a dream. Hattie believes in Vittana’s mission to make education accessible through microloan opportunities and she is excited to work as a fellow in Ghana during the spring of 2013.
Hattie graduated from Clemson University in 2010 with dual degrees in Communication Studies and English. She participated in a number of opportunities abroad as an undergraduate, which include teaching English as a Second Language in rural India and studying abroad at Oxford University. After graduating, she spent a year teaching ESL in rural Nepal on a U.S. Fulbright grant. Since 2011, Hattie has worked in Special Education. After her time as a fellow, Hattie will return to teach ESL in urban Nashville through the Nashville Teaching Fellows program. She ultimately hopes to pursue a master’s degree in International Education Policy and Management.
Hattie will serve as a Fellow this Spring in Ghana.
Celeste just finished a 6 month internship at Kiva and is excited to work with Vittana to research the impact microfinance and education has on the developing world. Celeste is a Seattle native and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in International Studies. Her international experience also includes a year spent in Italy, many months in South America and proficiency in Spanish since childhood.
David is extremely excited about working to support young adults who are striving to improve their quality of life. While studying International Business and Social Enterprise at Northeastern University, David learned from top professors and social entrepreneurs what it might take for our generation to overcome growing disparities in the monetary, educational, and agricultural wealth of nations. David completed a fellowship at the Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India where he trained a group of graduate students in English, Innovation, and Social Enterprise. After this amazing opportunity, he was asked to design and direct pilot programs for a sustainable community development organization on a coffee plantation in the rainforest of Guatemala. This experience showed him how powerful community initiatives can be when local leaders of all ages come together to work on simple or complex solutions. He is up for the challenge of helping Vittana reach even more young adults and create leaders all over Latin America in 2013.
David will serve as a fellow in Bolivia for 6 months this winter.
Anni is passionate about working towards a more equal world through providing access to education and creating economic opportunities for people in the Global South. As someone who has experienced the educational systems of three different countries first-hand as a student and then as a teacher, she feels strongly about equal access to education based on merit rather than income. In 2011 Anni volunteered as a Program Manager for Fundación En Vía, a microfinance non-profit in Oaxaca, Mexico, and became truly conviced of the power that microfinance can have on individuals and communities when done right. As such, she is excited for the opportunity to learn about the innovative of education and microfinance as a Vittana fellow.
Anni is originally from Finland but has lived in the UK for the past eight years with stints of working and travelling elsewhere in Europe, Asia and Latin America. She graduated from the University of Bath in 2010 with a BA(Hons) in European Studies with Spanish and Italian. Before Vittana she was working as a Director of Studies at an international language school in the UK, and is hoping to start an MPA in International Development at the London School of Economics this autumn. She is fluent in four different languages and suffers from a serious case of wanderlust.
Anni will be serving as a Vittana fellow in Mexico for three months this spring.
Tammy has had a passion for exploring and understanding foreign lands since her upbringing in a multicultural home just outside NYC. She’s lived with local families in Honduras, Belize, Russia, and Denmark, worked in schools, built local mud-homes, and conducted research in traditional health practices, economic policy, and local business strategies.
After graduating from Colby College with a BA in economics and applied-math, Tammy spent 5 years at consulting firms in Washington, DC. Primarily, she worked as an Analyst, collecting and analyzing program data to measure and understand impact for clients such as the Department of Energy and the US Treasury. In addition to her job, she had the opportunity to work as a program coordinator and lead volunteer coordinator for a non-profit that empowers youth through environmental stewardship. During her time working in DC she fueled her passion for understanding the needs of developing countries by taking courses at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and conducting research in Peru. She will begin a M.A. in Advanced Economic Analysis at Columbia’s School of International Public Affairs in the Fall of 2013.
She is hoping to use her analytics experience in consulting to help support and evaluate partner MFI’s student loan programs. She will serve as a Vittana fellow in the Philippines for four month this winter.
Growing up in rural China with her grandparents, both of whom were teachers for a local school, Yuchen is a witness and firm believer in the role of education as a transformative agent. She deeply appreciates how Vittana’s model creates a platform for small acts of kindness to take on life-changing power for students who might have been otherwise rejected by traditional bank loans.
Yuchen received her Bachelor’s degrees in both International Relations and English Literature from Peking University, China. Now she is pursuing her Master’s degree at Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, with concentrations on international economic development and quantitative methods in program evaluation.&Before joining Vittana, Yuchen has volunteered as a teacher at an educational non-profit organization in Los Angeles and made friends with students from a diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. She has also worked as a research intern at a policy consulting company in Beijing, where she carried out research on China's trending issues concerning economy, governance and social policies.&Yuchen is excited to be serving as a Vittana Fellow in Jakarta, Indonesia in the summer of 2013.&%
After 13 years working in a bank, Adriana decided to take time off to contribute to a program she believes in. Her experience in lending, finance, risk and marketing analytics made her a great fit for Vittana.
Adriana has a degree in Industrial Engineering at Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia. Adriana has traveled from her home country of Colombia to work in both Sweden and Panama in the banking sector providing her knowledge of different cultures and people.
Adriana is excited to explore Peru as a Vittana Fellow this spring.
Diwa believes that education is not only a basic right, but to the youth of today, it is also the door to equality, empowerment and personal growth. As such she’s passionate about supporting young people gain access to education to help them realize their potential and achieve their dreams.
After graduating from the University of Sydney with a degree in Economics and Politics, she ventured into Public Relations consulting for several global brands across a varied range of industries that included pharmaceuticals, consumer products, beauty and sports. Now, armed with experience in digital publishing and a flair for producing innovative online content and marketing concepts, Diwa embarks on her fellowship at Vittana with much excitement, anticipation and her personal motto - ‘see with your heart and open your mind, you might surprise yourself’. During her time in Jakarta, she’s looking forward to learning about what motivates and inspires Indonesian youth and creating insightful opportunities for them to turn those dreams into reality.
Diwa will be serving as a Vittana fellow in Jakarta for 3 months in the Winter of 2013.
Elizabeth discovered her interest in microfinance while studying International Business and Social Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. Passionate about both education and access to credit, she is looking forward to learning about how Vittana’s model works in the field.
Previous to her fellowship, Elizabeth participated in a Global Social Entrepreneurship field study in Cape Town, South Africa and lived in Madrid, Spain for one year studying business. Along with her other experiences abroad, these have helped shape Elizabeth’s ideas on how to best solve poverty.
Elizabeth will serve as a fellow in Indonesia this winter.
Although his mother's entire side of the family lives in the Philippines, this is Russ' first time spending an extended period of time in the country. Before his mother came to America, she spent years having to drop out and re-enroll in school in order to work for enough money to pay for her education. He is excited to help a cause that will make it easier for people in his family's country to make it through school.
Russ is a graduating MBA student from the Smith School of Business at University of Maryland. He currently lives in Washington, DC, however he will be moving to Philadelphia this fall to return to Campbell Soup Company, where he will be working in brand management. During his time at UMD he has traveled for projects in Asia twice, and is working on a project in Europe this spring. He also serves as Smith's VP of Community Development & Social Value and was a student associate on the New Markets Growth Fund.
Russ is hoping to leverage his analytics and marketing background to help scale Vittana's current MFI & university partnerships.
Class of 2012
Alecia is dedicated to helping Vittana support students living in poverty in their pursuit of new opportunities and personal growth through education.
Prior to joining Vittana as a fellow, Alecia was an associate at an international law firm in New York. During her time at the firm, she worked as a legal extern at Acumen Fund, where she was responsible for legal documentation of Acumen's investments in social enterprise start-ups. Alecia has experience in immigration and refugee law and has worked on many international human rights legal initiatives. Her global educational experiences, including studying in Canada, Spain, Costa Rica and Hong Kong and serving on the board of directors of Community Education Services Canada (a non-profit organization that provides access to education for HIV-affected children in Kenya) have fueled her passion for providing education opportunities for those less fortunate.
Alecia will be serving as a Vittana fellow in Kenya for two months this fall.
Fueled by his interest in international development and passion for enriching lives of the economically less fortunate, Peter is thrilled to be joining Vittana as a Fellow. Peter has spent the last two years working with students in development for Best Buddies International and the Special Olympics. He successfully helped raise over $3 million for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.&Peter graduated from Kenyon College in 2010 with degrees in Sociology and Legal studies. After Vittana he will move onto his next adventure in Ecuador where he will serve in the Peace Corps.
Peter will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines for 4 months this winter and spring.
Dan has been working in international development since 2007, primarily with the Seattle-based global health organization PATH, where he worked with a dedicated team to transfer and develop market introduction strategies for innovative health technologies in low and middle income countries. He’s had the great fortune to have worked and travelled in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Through these experiences he has been humbled and inspired by the people who work tirelessly under very difficult circumstances to make a better life for themselves and their families.
As the son of a teacher who has dedicated her career to improving the quality of education in underserved communities, he is proud to now be helping advance Vittana’s work to combat poverty by increasing access to higher education. He originally hails from the great state of Wisconsin, but currently calls Seattle home. Dan has a degree in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will be a fellow for Vittana in Cambodia from December ’12 to July ‘13.
Jason first recognized the need for microfinance in education as he volunteered with students from all over Latin America. Though his colleagues were bright and hardworking, they faced nearly impossible odds in finding a way to pay for college. Inspired by this experience, Jason sought solutions to empower young people. As a research intern for the Peery Foundation, he mapped out challenges and innovations in the field of education. He went on as an associate with Ashoka's Youth Venture where he helped young people launch and lead their own social ventures. Through his broad experience, Jason has developed a firm belief in the power and importance of educating young people. He is committed to Vittana's mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education.&Jason is a rising senior in Latin American studies at Brigham Young University. He serves as Co-President of their nationally-recognized Students for Social Entrepreneurship program. He will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Paraguay during the summer of 2012.
From 2008-2011, Kathryn served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, where she worked with women beneficiaries of microloans. Interacting with the women and seeing their rural businesses grow was exhilarating-- but she also saw much of the income go towards paying their children's school fees rather than being reinvested in their businesses, and she saw many children and very capable young adults forego education because the fees were simply too much for their families to pay. She is thus excited to partner with Vittana to tackle this problem by helping students access their own loans, and to keep helping people to improve their lives and those of their children. Kathryn has a BA in Economics from UCLA and will be serving as a Vittana fellow in the Philippines this fall and winter.
Melissa spent several years as an teacher both in the US and in Spain, before following her passions into an MSW program focusing on International human rights and social justice. For the last two years Melissa has worked with a variety of INGOs as an educator and advocate for populations ranging from indigeneous Peruvian women, vulnerable children in Ghana and refugees around the globe. Her focus during this time has been on sustainable community development, child rights and women's human rights issues and empowerment.
A piece of her heart still yearned for education however, and her belief in education as the strongest force against social barriers and inequalities led her to the work of Vittana. She is thrilled to connect students with the resources they need to attend university and achieve their full potential. She is eager to witness the power of microfinance in action and continue her love of cultural immersion.
Melissa is from New York City and is serving as a Vittana Fellow during winter 2012 in Bolivia.
Erin is excited to serve as a Fellow at a time when the microfinance field is evolving to provide better tools to meet clients' needs. In her travels on five continents, Erin has come to appreciate the common aspirations and sacrifices of families everywhere who dream of giving their children a quality education. She is eager to learn from and contribute to Vittana's mission in Ghana during summer 2012.
Erin served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in eastern Uganda, where she trained village associations in-led microfinance and worked on HIV prevention and care programs. She has led organizational and business planning for an urban farming enterprise in Baltimore, and worked at UNDP's Equator Initiative, which promotes sustainable development efforts of local and indigenous communities around the world. Erin has a B.A. in Development Studies from Brown University and will return to Fordham University in the fall to complete her M.A. in International Political Economy and Development.
Before joining Vittana as a Fellow, Andrew worked as the Director and Finance and Deputy Headmaster at the MacDella Cooper Academy in Liberia, a boarding school serving orphans of Liberia's civil war. His time at MCA solidified his passion for international development and allowed him first hand experience to the vital role that education must have in developing nations. Prior to MCA, Andrew has experience in corporate finance, outdoor education, and public sector economics.
In May of 2011 Andrew graduated from Middlebury College with a double major in Economics and Neuroscience while captaining the school's basketball team to two conference titles and its first ever Final Four appearance.
Andrew is eager to contribute to Vittana's vision and will be serving as a Fellow in Amman, Jordan for the Winter and Spring of 2012.
Annie Laurie Malarkey is a firm believer that access to higher education is the key to conquering a number of global issues. She is excited to join the Vittana team as a visual storyteller; helping to show the impact of microloans on the lives of students in Ghana.&Annie Laurie Malarkey grew up in Seattle and graduated magna cum laude from Wheaton College (MA) in 2009 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Studio Art. She currently works as a freelance photographer (www.annielauriephotography.com) and writer, creating impactful images that capture the authentic personalities of her subjects. She has also satisfied her appetite for travel with journeys through the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. She is looking forward to spreading the Vittana mission with engaging imagery and stories from students in the field.
Annie Laurie Malarkey will be serving as a fellow in Ghana during Fall of 2012.
Laura Manley brings over 10 years of experience in NGOs and social enterprises in the US, India, and Nepal, specializing in strategic planning and organizational development. Laura serves as an advisor for Lha Charitable Trust and has worked with multiple development agencies including UNICEF, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst in Business Administration cum laude where she was published for her research on NGO strategic planning.
Laura believes in the power of microfinance to expand access to higher education throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. She is excited to assist local students invest in their future with pride and dignity. After her time in Ghana, Laura will pursue an MPA at NYU Wagner focusing on International Policy and Management.
Annabella believes firmly in the power of education as a lever for human and economic development. Born and raised in Singapore, she has traveled extensively around Southeast Asia, where she observed first-hand how lack of access to education has limited the economic opportunities available to much of the population. She is therefore very excited to be able to work with Vittana in Southeast Asia, and to contribute to its mission to increase educational access to young people through education.
Annabella's professional background is in defence and security policy. She has been working with the Singapore Ministry of Defence for the past four years, and has also served a stint at the UN where she was a country delegate at the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. Annabella has a B.A. in Government and Asian Studies from Cornell University, and an M.A. in East Asian Regional Studies from Columbia University.
Annabella will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in Jakarta, Indonesia in the summer/fall of 2012. Having studied Bahasa Indonesia in college, she is looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the Indonesian culture and language.
A recent graduate from the University of Washington, Giang approaches life, work, and education with curiosity and an open mind to learn. With a passion for people and social development, Giang believes in education as an essential means to create opportunities. She is on a mission to make a positive impact on the world and Vittana is another stepping stone in making this a reality.
During her college career, Giang found herself pairing her versatility, and love for challenges with her craving for culture, travel, and languages. Giang is fluent in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish, and has lived in Ecuador, Mexico, Vietnam, and the USA. As a result of her dedication to learning Spanish, in March 2012 Giang began a four month trip to Central America, starting with two months of intensive language studies in Mexico, followed by travels to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. After her time at Vittana, Giang will be pursuing a career in management consulting, while keeping her eye on set on earning an MBA.
Driven by her desire to help expand and enhance educational opportunities abroad, Elizabeth has decided to pursue her passion for education and microfinance by joining Vittana as a fellow this fall and winter. Through her international volunteer experience in India and Laos, she has observed the value of education and its capacity to accelerate human potential and is eager to put her enthusiasm and experience to work in a microfinance setting.
Prior to joining Vittana, Elizabeth worked as a corporate lawyer at a large international law firm. Her travels in Australia, South America, Africa and Asia ignited her interest in experiencing new cultures by living and working abroad, and she is excited to pursue this next adventure.
Elizabeth has a JD from the University of Michigan and a BS in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She will be serving as a Vittana fellow in Rwanda.
Ilana Sahm graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a BA in Psychology before moving to Canada. For two years she worked with The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for women involved in the criminal justice system. While at The Elizabeth Fry Society, she was responsible for running the Youth Court Work Program, which included working with youth facing criminal charges, as well as directing the Volunteer Program in which she supervised all volunteers for the organization. Additionally, she volunteered with the Aboriginal Youth Justice Committee in which she served on panels for Aboriginal youth who also faced criminal charges. Her work with women, youth, minorities, and the disabled all inspired her to consider alternative methods of addressing social issues, such as those utilized in social enterprises. As a Vittana Fellow, Ilana is excited have the opportunity to be involved in work which provides access to education and resources for improving lives.
Ilana will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Lima, Peru for the Fall of 2012.
Bridgette is thrilled for the chance to help Vittana provide more educational opportunities to students in the Philippines. Bridgette believes wholeheartedly in Vittana’s mission to provide poverty elimination through education. Education has provided her with countless opportunities, and she never would have been able to go to school had she not had access to student loans herself.
She is currently an MPA student at the UW Evans School of Public Affairs, where she is focusing her studies on International Development. Before coming to the Evans School, she studied philosophy in British Columbia and Wyoming. This fellowship will provide a great opportunity for Bridgette to work in the field and understand more about microfinance. She hopes one day to have a career in international development.
Bridgette will serve as a Fellow in the Philippines for the summer of 2012.
Deema Sorri was born in the US and raised in Palestine. Growing up she was fortunate enough to have access to the best educational institutes. During high school she joined many peace camps in Palestine and the US where she learned that well educated minds are the best investment for creating a more peaceful world. After she graduated from high school, she left for Jordan to pursue her bachelor's degree. She majored in clinical pharmacy and graduated in June 2012 from the University of Jordan.
\In my life I believe in two basic needs for each and every single human being
Kendal is a recent graduate of Western Washington University where she majored in math and economics and minored in cultural anthropology. She's currently taking a gap year before applying to grad school where she hopes to focus on economic development. Her love of travel and experience with diverse cultures has brought her face to face with the kind of poverty that Vittana is working to eliminate. She strongly believes in Vittana's mission of funding education in order to break the cycle of poverty in developing regions around the world. She's excited about the opportunity to learn first hand how an MFI functions and to personally witness how it impacts students.
Kendal will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines for the fall of 2012.
Marika graduated in May of 2012 with a bachelors degree in Economics with high honors from Kenyon College. Her interest in social entrepreneurship and microfinance started as an undergraduate at Kenyon College where she co-founded Local Lenders, a microfinance group serving the rural Ohio community surrounding the college. Her focus on development through social enterprise continued with an internship with AppLab an organization of Grameen Foundation Uganda that utilizes mobile devices to increase access to health, crop, and market information for rural farmers. Marika hopes to pursue a career that promotes development through private sector tools such as access to financial tools or strategic planning. Marika will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013.
While pursuing a degree in International Economics from Georgetown University, Ram spent time working at an environmental non-profit, promoting agricultural best practices and sustainable farmland management. Ram has since been working in the International Trade section of a prominent law firm in Washington, DC. His work has focused on export controls and Department of Commerce antidumping cases. He has also served as a third grade math and reading tutor and coach of the Boys & Girls Club U-12 basketball team.
Ram will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines and plans to return to school in the fall to pursue a Masters in Public Policy.
Class of 2011
Jared is very excited for the opportunity to work with Vittana to increase educational access through microfinance in Rwanda. A native of California, Jared attended Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles where he earned his Bachelors and Masters degree in Business Administration. He had to take out loans for school, and after seeing first-hand the opportunity his education has given him Jared is a firm believer in what education can do for individuals who are given the chance.
Since graduating Jared has worked jobs in a variety of work sectors throughout the U.S. Completing a one-year AmeriCorps program in Durango, Colorado focusing on education and community outreach had a large impact on him. For the past two years, he has worked for the National Park Service leading volunteers and AmeriCorps members on various projects focused on park rehabilitation and environmental education in Arches, Saguaro, Denali, and Yosemite National Parks. When he is not working Jared enjoys traveling abroad and climbing about any type of rock he can find.
Jared will be a Vittana Fellow for winter and spring 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Mark spent this past year working for Drexel University in Equatorial Guinea where as part of his job he designed and taught a university literature course as well as organized an environmental education outreach program in local elementary schools. He thoroughly believes in the power and importance of education and investing in people, and is looking forward to using microfinance to expand access to higher education. Mark plans to use his experience as a Vittana Fellow to start a career in international non-profits after pursuing a Masters in international development.&Mark will spend three months this spring in La Paz, Bolivia, working with a new MFI partner.
Stephanie is absolutely thrilled to help bring Vittana’s vision of education through microfinance to Ghana. After several years working for a credit union in the US and spending the spring and summer of 2011 previously in Ghana volunteering in micro finance, she is convinced of the power that extending effective credit can have on the world’s poor. With a myriad of micro finance options for Ghanaians to choose from, Stephanie believes strongly that a student loan product can play an important role in creating opportunities for poverty alleviation.
Stephanie is from Minneapolis, MN and has a BA in International Studies from Madison, WI. While working at a credit union in Washington, D.C. for several years she also stayed involved as a volunteer for a women’s domestic violence shelter. After deciding she was not fit for the banking sector she decided to get involved in microfinance to bring financial services to those that need them the most. After her time in Ghana she hopes to begin pursuing an MA in International Development/Affairs.
Stephanie is serving as a Vittana fellow in Ghana during the fall and winter of 2011.
In her nearly five years as a private sector management consultant with a multinational firm, Jessica specialized in and managed both strategic and talent development/learning projects with global scope. She worked extensively with international teams for Fortune 100 clients across multiple industries, including resources (chemicals, utilities, metals, energy), financial services, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and professional/consulting services. She is thrilled to be making the transition from a large, corporate environment into Vittana’s small, entrepreneurial organization and to additionally leverage her Spanish skills, undergraduate academic background in international development, and nonprofit experience with education-related organizations to partner directly with an MFI in Lima and Puno, Peru. After personally attending college on student loans, Jessica has always been passionate about expanding education access for all students – especially in the realm of higher education – and she is therefore especially honored to have the opportunity to increase academic options firsthand for students with Vittana. During the Fellowship period, she plans to learn as much as possible about the practical implementation of innovative education initiatives to inform a long-term career path dedicated to expanding academic opportunities.
Jessica is serving as a Vittana Fellow during fall and winter 2011.
John has a background in journalism, working at a community newspaper in Kentucky, taking photos and writing stories. Although he enjoyed the work and was successful in his field, he felt a pull toward something with a more global view. He has always had a desire to help others access the same opportunities he has had in life - to give them support in pursuit of their dreams.
Following this passion, he and his wife volunteered at an orphanage in Peru during 2009-2010. Now John is enrolled in the International Development program at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, learning the skills he needs in order to put his passion into action. He will graduate in December. John enjoys photography, playing with his enormous bad dog and experimenting in the vegetable garden.
John is serving as a Vittana Fellow during summer 2011 in Nicaragua.
Charlie began his career in education on a whim during a year-long stay in Southeast Asia as an English teacher. Overwhelmed by the passion and desire for education in each location he taught, he was discouraged by the lack of ability for many of his students to fulfill their aspirations through higher education.
Upon returning to the states, Charlie enrolled in Teachers College at Columbia University to learn more about the academic side of education development. This has allowed him to fully delve into both the practical and theoretical components of international education, and examine the many unexplored connections between microfinance and education.
Charlie is serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines before returning in fall 2011 to finish his Masters degree. He also has a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Boston College.
Linh comes to Vittana with experience in the financial services industry. Having started her career as an investment banking analyst on Wall Street, she recently left the private equity sector where she helped acquire and manage residential mortgage companies and assets. On “sabbatical” (15 months and counting!), Linh has been bouncing around the globe and is super excited about the current opportunity to see microfinance in action first hand in SE Asia through the Vittana program. As an extension of her background in loans, she has been interested in microfinance loans as a tool to alleviate poverty and empower women. Linh hopes to leverage her business skills during the Fellowship while exploring a career shift into more socially responsible ventures.
Born in Vietnam, raised in Texas, she now calls NYC home. At the moment, Linh is serving as a Vittana Fellow in Jakarta, Indonesia for four months in the fall and winter of 2011.
Isabel is excited to spend her summer helping Fundación Paraguaya reach more students in metropolitan Asunción with its Vittana loan program. As a student herself, Isabel understands that she would not be where she is without access to student loans, and she wants to give others the same opportunities. She is looking forward to meeting university students in Paraguay and discussing the joys and difficulties they share.
Isabel is a rising junior at Claremont McKenna College, studying economics and international relations with a finance sequence. A Seattle native, Isabel spent last summer as an International Partnerships intern at Vittana. Though she misses spending every day trapped in a bar with the Vittana team, Isabel is excited to get on-the-ground experience with a microfinance institution. She knows this experience will be invaluable in her pursuit of a career in international development, where she hopes to expand the economic rights of the poor, especially in Latin America.
Isabel is serving as a Vittana Fellow in Paraguay during summer 2011.
Patrick has consulted for clients in both the private and public sectors, focusing on creating engaging customer experiences. After developing his expertise, he sought out opportunities to apply his knowledge to non-profits. After volunteering and consulting for non-profits based in the US and abroad, Patrick developed a passion to contribute his business acumen for the social good. He is serving as a Vittana Fellow for three months in Kigali, Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills.
Patrick is starting the Full-Time MBA program at the University of Michigan in September 2011 to better understand how market-based approaches can benefit the Base of the Pyramid, or the 8
Bruce is excited to help Vittana bring educational opportunities to the Philippines. Bruce, a retired airline captain, is a trustee member on the Board of Trustees of Clover Park Technical College. He is also a former school board member and county planning commissioner. He wants to bring his understanding of school administration and curriculum to developing nations.
Each country brings its own set of challenges. Bruce sees these challenges not as obstacles but as opportunities to learn about other cultures. Bruce hopes that during the time he spends with Vittana he can assist others in attaining their educational goals.&Bruce is married with two children and lives on a farm in Eatonville, Washington.
Bruce is serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines during spring 2011.
Linh was born in Vietnam and grew up in California. Growing up, Linh had dreams of eating her way around the world and making change beyond her borders. While pursuing Economics and Chinese at UCLA, she became very interested in international development in Asia and got the chance to travel and study abroad in China. Her wonderful experiences sparked her desire to one day work internationally for a global cause. After three years of working in human resource consulting, Linh is very excited for the opportunity to work with Binh Minh SEDA in her native country, Vietnam. She hopes that her time as a Vittana Fellow will provide her with invaluable insider perspectives of the Vietnamese culture, international development, and how microfinance works to help the poor have access to higher education. As Linh embarks on her journey in Hanoi, she seeks to follow her tenets in life: Eat well. Savor life. Students always.
Linh will be serving as a Vittana Fellow during Winter / Spring 2012 in Vietnam.
As a firm believer in the power of education to change lives and a huge proponent of responsibly executed microfinance, Ryan could not be more excited to work with Vittana and Mongolian partner XacBank in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He is confident that there exists great opportunity to expand access to higher education in the Asian Steppe and is looking forward to utilizing his previous business acumen to increase Vittana’s reach and impact. As someone who spends as much time in the mountains and open spaces as possible, Mongolia is a great corner of the world for Ryan to be stuck. And considering he thinks sleeping in snow caves is a fun activity he may even survive the winter!
Previously, Ryan helped run the customer service team at evo in Seattle before joining the eCommerce marketing department where he managed several online advertising campaigns. He studied geology at Colgate University in upstate New York and is originally from Vail, Colorado.
Ryan is currently serving as a Vittana Fellow in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia during the spring and summer of 2011.
Megan is a California native with a global heart. Having travelled from a young age, she has spent time living and working in Costa Rica, South Africa and Kenya. Her professional background spans public administration, policy, writing and social enterprise. Megan is in the process of completing her M.A. thesis (looking at market access for Fair Trade artisans in the developing world) at the University of Nairobi, where she studied from 2008-2010. While in Kenya, Megan's understanding of global development was turned completely on its head - resulting in a strong desire to promote local leaders through increased access to quality education. Vittana is doing just that and Megan is thrilled to join forces in a micro-lending context in support of these future leaders.
Megan will be a Vittana Fellow during fall and winter 2011.
Luke is thrilled with the challenge of helping to bring student loans to Africa. He believes education is key to ending the cycle of poverty, and is looking forward to applying his entrepreneurial talents to this effort. Luke feels that the opportunity afforded him as a Vittana Fellow will be an invaluable educational adventure, one supportive of his goal to pursue a micro-finance career in the non-profit sector. He has a B.S. degree in Public Policy, Management and Planning from the University of Southern California, and is a certified as a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician.
Luke will be serving as a Fellow in Kigali, Rwanda for five months during the spring and summer of 2011.
Kim first developed an interest in microfinance during a year-long journey around Southeast Asia. After working as a financial analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for a few years, she decided that she wanted to shift her career to grassroots economic development, but she wasn't sure exactly what this entailed. Armed with an MA in Global Finance and Economic Development and a passion for traveling, Kim quit her job, bought a one way ticket to Thailand, and took off to discover the world. While observing different cultures and meeting many amazing locals, Kim decided that what was missing was opportunity, and her interest in microfinance spawned from there.
After leaving Asia, she headed to Peru, where she volunteered as an Economic Development and Microfinance Monitor for a local non-profit in Trujillo. While she enjoyed working in Peru, Kim's extended time in Southeast Asia gave her a special affinity for the region, and she decided to go back to Asia to continue her microfinance endeavors there.
Kim is serving as a Vittana Fellow in the Philippines for the remainder of 2011.
Beth passionately believes that the eradication of poverty is possible. Since her introduction to Vittana, Beth has been captivated by the innovative use of micro-loans for higher education. She believes strongly that access to capital, as well as education are key components in creating a more equitable world.&Beth is looking to bring her business experience and creativity to her position as a Fellow in Ayacucho, Peru. From 2004-2009 she was co-owner and designer of a woman's casual apparel line that was sold throughout the United States. She currently is pursuing a degree in international business and finance at the University of Washington.
Beth's one true love is travel, as she was born with a serious case of wanderlust. Her passion for exploring our world has led her on many journeys across the globe. Most recently she spent four months traveling throughout Mexico and Central America, before arriving in Peru to begin her position as a Vittana Fellow.
Beth lives in Seattle, Washington and is serving as a Vittana Fellow in Peru in spring 2011.
Mitesh returned from Rwanda last year after volunteering as an entrepreneurship teacher through WorldTeach. Previously, he was a Senior Associate with BAML Capital Partners (formerly Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity), where he was actively involved in the fund’s operations and pre-merger fundraising. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and holds degrees in Finance and Economics.
While teaching in Rwanda, Mitesh realized his students only needed a small window of opportunity to tap their enormous potential. After months of planning and execution, his students created a small, but thriving venture that financed community service projects within the school. Mitesh hopes financing education in the developing world will allow skilled citizens to take ownership of their community’s development and economic prosperity. Inspired by Vittana’s mission, he is excited to break ground in India as a Vittana Fellow.
Mitesh will serve as a Vittana Fellow in India for approximately one year.
Nathan is working to bring years of microfinance study and community outreach together in order to impact lives through with Vittana. Coming from a family of educators, Nathan understands the true meaning of education being a universal human right.
Before Nathan became a Fellow he began his work with Vittana as the first person enlisted in their Ambassador program. He worked in the entertainment industry in numerous roles for six years with companies such as MTV and VH1. As a passionate advocate for community service involvement, he also served as a Youth Coordinator in a downtown Los Angeles community center for several years. He has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Kansas.
Nathan was a volunteer Vittana Ambassador in Los Angeles and is serving as a Vittana Fellow in Jordan during winter and spring, 2011.
Jack is thrilled to contribute his fascination with Arab culture and the Middle East along with his interest in economic development to support Vittana’s mission. Graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and Arabic from Emory University in 2011, he left with a burning desire to apply his academic interests and knack for creative problem solving to change lives and inspire change. Jack’s experiences as an Arabic student in Morocco in 2010 revealed to him the amazing potential that education holds for young adults and, conversely, the dire economic and social consequences that follow when access and resources for education are denied or unavailable.
Before Jack became a Vittana Fellow, he worked as a legal assistant at a small law firm in New Mexico and helped run a swim team near the housing projects of Atlanta. Equipped with some unique skills, a committed vision of change motivated by these distinct experiences, and curiosity without bounds, he is excited to confront the cultural and practical challenges that lay ahead in his journey to Jordan as a Vittana Fellow.
Jack will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Amman, Jordan for the fall and winter of 2011-2012.
Ken was born and spent most of his time living in Singapore. After graduating from Columbia University with a double major in Economics and Sociology, Ken had spent the last 7-8 years working with the Singapore government, where he was involved in diverse areas of work including political research and energy policy formulation. Most recently, Ken was at the Singapore Ministry of Education, helping to develop the local university sector, and to establish Singapore's fourth publicly-funded university.
Ken strongly believes in education as a key tool to promote social mobility. His interest in student financing (including loans) arose during his time at Columbia, where he realized the difficulty faced by many people outside of the developed countries, with gaining access to tertiary education. In addition, having grown up in the heart of SE Asia, Ken is deeply interested in the region and has travelled fairly extensively to the countries within. In his travels, Ken realized the great potential to contribute further to the development of the region and its people.
After having planned (for several years) to do some volunteer work in SE Asia, Ken will serve as a Vittana Fellow in Indonesia in the Winter of 2011 / 2012.
Jesse comes to Vittana from a career in community and economic development finance. His work began with neighborhood rehabilitation and small business lending in Oregon. The hook that caught him at the start came from sharing a week with the late Jim Fletcher, one of the founders of South Shore Bank. In a seminar on community development finance it became clear that real “access to credit” should consider both affordability and the fair evaluation of an individual or business’ capacity to borrow.
Jesse has worked in the public and private sectors, in commercial and investment banking, and for a nonprofit CDFI (community development financial institution) and affordable housing developer. When Jesse learned of an exciting new partnership for Vittana in India that would allow him to explore the opportunities and challenges of India's financial markets in country, it was too good to pass up. Jesse will be spending the summer and fall in India.&Jesse is married and lives with his wife in Portland. They have two sons.
Audrey first saw the need for student loans in the developing world when she visited Zambia in the summer of 2008; there, her translator and friend, Morgan, was unable to finish college because he couldn't afford the $600 tuition. Morgan's dilemma has remained with Audrey, and three years later, she is thrilled to be a part of Vittana's revolutionary mission, helping to bring student loans and educational possibilities to the city of Puno, Peru. She hopes that one day, not too far in the future, every individual will have the opportunity to pursue higher education.
Audrey is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Economics and Spanish. For her senior thesis, Audrey researched the effects of education on earnings potential on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. She will be serving as a Vittana Fellow in Puno, Peru for the summer and fall of 2011.
Stefan firmly believes in human potential and the ability of people to create better lives for themselves through education. Stefan learned this while teaching English to Asian immigrants to pass the U.S. citizenship exam and while working in homeless shelters in Seattle. It became evident to him that those who wish to make a better life for themselves can do so only if those services are available.
While working in the Independent State of Samoa to create economic opportunity through business development, Stefan became very excited to pursue work in community development specifically through microfinance. Stefan’s experience working for Grassroots Campaigns and Progressive Future during the general election in 2008 allowed him to see the power of community development and the significance of education at a societal level. Stefan has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington and also a Grant Writing Certificate from Seattle Central Community College.
Stefan will be spending five months in Misamis Occidental in the Philippines beginning in the summer of 2011.
Natalie is serving as a Fellow in Indonesia after completing her BA in International Development at UC Berkeley in May 2011. She has been involved in education for the last five years, and worked as an assistant teacher for three years at a preschool in Berkeley, where she learned the value of providing a quality education to youth starting at an early age. Yet it was really from her experience volunteering in Ghana that she learned the importance of offering students higher education funding after she witnessed her Ghanaian friends' struggles and inability to continue on to even a high school education because of lack of financial resources. She hopes to bring her passion for education, filmmaking, and photography to her work as a Vittana Fellow to tell the stories of Indonesian students and connect them with people all over the world.
After completing her fellowship, Natalie plans to move back to San Francisco and work in the education non-profit world before heading to graduate school for non-profit management. She is excited to live in Indonesia, meet ambitious young Indonesians, and learn as much about the rich cultures of the country as possible.
Brandon is excited to join Vittana and to delve into his first hands on experience with microfinance. He gained an interest in microfinance through conversations with friends while studying Hindu and Buddhist philosophy in Mumbai, India his junior year of university and during a summer spent living in Buenos Aires, Argentina studying Spanish. With interests in microfinance and the Spanish language, he decided to pursue a four month fellowship with Vittana in La Paz, Bolivia.
Brandon has worked in a wide range of industries- from retail, to venture capital, to biotech. He recently graduated from Cornell University with majors in Economics, Psychology, and Philosophy. He believes that the best way to make the world a better place is by enabling others to utilize their talents more productively, and that education is able to assist in that process. He is excited to see how microcredit can facilitate access to education in Bolivia.&Brandon is serving as a Vittana Fellow in Bolivia.
Class of 2010
Nayna is excited to support Vittana's work and mission and is thrilled to have her first hands-on experience with microfinance. Nayna has a passion for working to ensure all young people have access to higher education and believes that higher education is a universal human right. In addition to working for two years at a civil rights law firm, Nayna has created and led youth and community development projects in Chicago and Washington, DC, where she was the recipient of Mayor Adrian Fenty's Community Service Award.
Nayna will serve as a Vittana Fellow for three months in Lima, Peru, after which she will begin law school at Stanford University.
Adam is looking to apply his business skills and passion for helping people in microfinance. He believes that everyone has a right for education and wants to facilitate that right by working with Vittana to ensure people are given an opportunity. He is serving as a Vittana Fellow for two months in Asuncion, Paraguay. Adam has been traveling in Latin America since January.
Adam worked for large business organizations for 10 years in various Finance, Accounting, and Project Management roles. Most recently he worked at JPMorgan Chase as a Senior Finance Manager and he also assisted with the Washington Mutual integration in various roles. He also worked for General Electric in their Financial Management Program. He has a B.S. degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Dayton.
Jordan is excited to be part of the Vittana team and thrilled to jump into Nicaraguan life and the world of microfinance. In San Francisco she is a middle school teacher, a classical musician and a master's student in international education at University of San Francisco. Her interests include educating for social change, critical pedagogy and access to education, especially for women. She loves to travel, explore, camp, hike, bike and generally be outdoors.
Jordan will spend 7 weeks in Managua, Nicaragua this summer.
Class of 2009
Katie Gruver was the first Vittana Fellow, traveling nine months through Latin America. Previously, Katie was the Operations and Community Manager at an education-based startup in Seattle and before that was a Marketing Manager at Unitus. Upon her return from Latin America, Katie worked as Vittana's Marketing Manager until she left to pursue new adventures. Katie holds a B.A. in Rhetoric & Media Studies from Willamette University.