Graduation Date: December 2015
Industry: International Aid and Development
Organization: The Dialogue Institute
What was your motivation or goal that prompted you to research and begin your graduate certificate program?
I wanted to extend the knowledge and experience I had and filter it through a rigorous course from an established and well known university. I had a lot of practical, real-world field experience but I wanted to pursue a professional accreditation that sharpened those skills and placed them into stark relief.
Please briefly summarize how you would describe the program and your experience to a potential student. What’s the programs biggest strength? How has the program exceeded your expectations?
The class is challenging and takes advantage of the “internet of things.” The class works well for the graduate student starting fresh to set them on their way as well as the experienced professional who brings rich real-world knowledge from the field into an academic environment. What this challenges the students to do is learn from each other. Another interesting aspect is that the course defies the tyranny of distance by having it online so students are engaging from Washington State to Haiti to Afghanistan.
I think the classes greatest strength is how grounded and relevant the course is. There wasn’t anything taught that fell outside the domain of what an M&E professional might encounter in the field.
What made American University the obvious choice as opposed to other higher-education institutions for you?
American University is nested in the cosmopolitan area of Washington, DC. It brings to bear the full weight of experienced professionals that are subject matter experts and contribute in a tangible and meaningful way.
Has the program assisted in your career? If so, what courses did you find most helpful? What are the most valuable skills you learned?
The online Graduate Certificate in Project Evaluation program has assisted my career in that it now provides a certification from an objective third-party observer. The course-work is evaluated and graded thus providing credibility to the student when standing before a potential employer. I’m already known as a field professional and have experience with M&E but this course and its certification complete the sentence.
How did the faculty keep the curriculum current?
The faculty is indeed current in that they have on-going work in the field of M&E. They are involved in work related to USAID and other international donors. They guide the students directly from what is happening among various agencies.
Please describe an experience or two at work where you were able to apply skills from the program.
I have been able to apply the work to local NGOs in my community aimed at lower-income families vis a vis the “Earn-A-Bike” program. I was able to use the skills learned in class to determine the efficacy of the program and use the results both to evaluate the program and incidentally provide an executive summary to the Board of Directors who are responsible for the funding of the project. By providing a non-biased report of findings the project withstood scrutiny due to its objective transparency since I was an outside consultant. I did not stand to gain or lose by providing the report and so the report I provided based on the models learned in class assisted in achieving a new budget cycle for the program which assists the local community due to its impact.
I have been able to provide qualitative reviews of my work and experiences to communities of newly arrived immigrants in the US at various community centers. The Dialogue Institute has been a very important voice in the inter-faith community between Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. I have been invited to give lecture at the Institute where it has been covered by local news media. The M&E course afforded me the ability to articulate complex and abstract ideas to a layman community by virtue of the assignments we were given. The instructors in the course evaluated each student’s ability to interview and interact with communities of this nature by selecting local organizations with which to interact. We were graded on how we achieved success and were provided timely feedback.
What trends in the field are you looking forward to applying your skills to?
I’m looking forward to providing quick feedback and useful impact statements to organizations that are involved in crisis, emergency and stability initiatives. These situations are so fluid it’s important to achieve focus and correct assessments from the beginning or things go sideways.
What have you gained from the communication with your peers online?
I have gained a lot of new reading material, books, articles, journals and magazines that I had not been exposed to before but which now populate my professional library. I wouldn’t have heard of these other points of view and the students take-aways otherwise.
To learn more about American University’s online Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.