Liz is a second year graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) studying International Policy Studies and Development with a focus in Human Security. She currently holds a bachelors degree from Portland State University in International Studies with a focus in Latin America and a minor in Business. She has a dedicated history of working in community development both abroad and in the United States. Her passion for serving others led her to Costa Rica as a Peace Corps volunteer working in community economic development. In the time she was there she worked with local entrepreneurs, schools, community groups, and three micro finance institutions. It was here that her belief was solidified that change must come from individuals and communities to support full human potential which must be integrated into a system of organizations and governments that act collectively to ensure human dignity and equitable inclusion in development.
This development philosophy led Liz to pursue a Master’s Degree at MIIS, where she was part of a team which conducted primary research on connectivity, in its various dimensions, and poverty in the Andes region of Peru called the Sacred Valley. Returning to the Sacred Valley, she is now participating in the prestigious program, International Professional Service Semester, conducting a more focused study on financial culture and financial inclusion. Liz hopes that her research leads to a program that will provide wider access to governmental social benefits, savings, micro-loans, and knowledge about responsible financial practices in the highlands of Peru.
Gaelen grew up in a small town on Whidbey Island, Washington State. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Western Washington University. Gaelen has a strong commitment to community development which stems from a profound desire to be a positive influence in the lives of those around her. This is an aspiration she has held from a young age, which has manifest throughout her life in her extensive engagement with humanitarian causes. Most recently, her ambition to more effectively support positive change in the lives of others has led her to pursue a Master’s Degree at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She is in her final year studying International Policy Studies and Development with a focus in Human Security.
Through her work with nonprofits, both at home and abroad, Gaelen has adopted a philosophy based on principals of responsible, community led development, and an unwavering belief in human potential. In the future, she aspires to work closely with communities to help them overcome barriers that prevent people from meeting their basic needs and reaching their full capacity.