For Anna Ghnouly ’16, a life of global service has always been the plan — and the path to that goal just became a little clearer.
The California native was recently named a 2018 recipient of the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship. Ghnouly’s fellowship will allow her to pursue graduate study related to international development, a summer internship working at a USAID mission abroad, and an appointment upon graduation as a foreign service officer with USAID.
Ghnouly will use her fellowship to fund a Master of Public Administration in Development Practice degree at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs starting this fall.
The MPA graduate degree is a natural next step for Ghnouly. She pursued a double major in geography and Asian & Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth, graduating summa cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa distinction, and received several awards and fellowships as an undergraduate.
Though the Payne Fellowship opens many new doors, Ghnouly is no stranger to the thrills and challenges of work in the international community. At Dartmouth, she spent terms in the Czech Republic, India, and China and held two internships with the U.S. Department of State working both in Rome and New York at U.S. Missions to the United Nations. Ghnouly also worked in the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. After graduation, she was awarded a Lombard Public Service Fellowship which took her to Singapore, where she served at the World Toilet Organization— an NGO that focuses on improving toilet access and sanitary conditions in the developing world—and assisted with impact assessment and surveying efforts.
She credits the Dickey Center for International Understanding and the Geography Department’s various development classes—most notably Professor Susanne Freidberg’s “Introduction to International Development” class and Professor Coleen Fox’s “Global Health” class—with solidifying her interest in the field, particularly in sanitation. In one of Freidberg’s classes, Ghnouly first analyzed the ramifications of inadequate sanitation access in the developing world’s urban environments, and later applied that knowledge in Fox’s class when, as part of a class project, she designed an innovative approach to eliminate open defecation in a rural Indian state. “The course made me excited to start a career in program design and implementation,” she notes.
Though toilets and sewer systems are not the most glamorous of subjects, Ghnouly is struck by sanitation’s importance to both public health and human dignity.
“About 40 percent of the world's population does not have access to adequate sanitation, resulting in unfathomable indignities, especially for women and girls,” she says. “I feel a strong duty to use my graduate degree to contribute significantly to the development field through innovative program design and rigorous impact assessment.”