ATLANTA – Master of Public Policy student Agnes Iwaye was selected to be a delegate for the 2022 World Bank Group Youth Summit held at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., this summer. From Nigeria, she admits her early experiences fostered a career interest in international development.
Iwaye received a big assist in applying to the summit from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS) Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations, which has a record of successfully helping students and alums launch and build their careers as public service leaders.
“My sincere gratitude goes to my career director, Colleen Perry, who has been of tremendous help in the attendance of the summit,” Iwaye said.
We recently interviewed Iwaye to learn more about her journey to Georgia State and her thoughts on taking advantage of the university’s many opportunities to be active and engaged in one’s studies. Her story holds lessons on how engagement opportunities beyond the classroom can help students better direct their future in significant ways.
Agnes, where did your interest in world development begin?
I studied international relations as an undergrad in Nigeria. This is how I learned about the disparities among nations, how much countries rely on each other and their impact on each other. It made me more interested in how governments make policies and how these policies affect the areas around them — regional and national — and how they affect the citizens in every country.
What brought you to our campus?
After my undergrad studies, I spoke to a friend who graduated from Georgia State University. I learned about the Andrew Young School and decided, where else would I want to be than in this school of public policy?
I first applied to AYSPS in 2019 but did not get an assistantship that would allow me to study here. I come from a humble background in Nigeria and had to work for six years to get into a Nigerian university. I couldn’t study here without an assistantship. So, I reached out to Professor John Thomas and kept pushing it. I wanted to go to school here. There was no other school that interested me.
In 2021, I pushed again. I got an assistantship and was admitted. Fall 2022 is my second year.
Your major is global affairs. Tell us more.
I want to be an international development practitioner. Why? This field has to do with alleviating poverty. So, I want to gain the appropriate skills in the United States to keep me equipped for international development.
My goal is to work in agencies affiliated with developing countries in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions that are marginalized. The good news is that we have institutions like the World Bank and other multilateral development agencies working in these regions.
What activities aid you in reaching this goal?
Apart from studying, I’m a social impact intern at the UPS Foundation, which I arrived at through the Andrew Young School. There, I do grant making. After our community relations managers reach out to smaller nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that need assistance, their applications come to me. I check them for accuracy and how they align with our goals. Then my supervisor checks it, I push it to the accounting team, they make payments and I close it.
Before I started in this area, I worked with the UPS Foundation manager to create a global map showing where the UPS Foundation was sending vaccines and helping with disasters. I helped develop the map and analyzed UPS’ impact on the world.
Tell us about your experience at the World Bank Group Youth Summit.
A friend in the Economics Department heard about the summit and reached out to me because he’d often heard me talk about international development policies and policymaking. He told me he thought I was the person for this. When I read through the website, I thought, “This is never going to go.” I applied for it anyway and, fortunately, I was chosen!
The summit was in D.C. in May. On the first day, we heard the opening speech by World Bank President David Malpass. The summit wasn’t just to bring youth together but to help us understand its theme of unlocking the power of inclusion for equitable growth. Several speakers talked about diversity, equity and inclusion, continuity, the current state of the nation and climate change. They talked about how we will ensure everyone is included as we revive ourselves and our nations from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pitch competitions followed, based on the theme.
Your experience is one of many made available through our Career Services office. Why should others take advantage of these opportunities?
We must ensure we can do what we’re learning.
I left the audience at the World Bank with a question. As much as we youth expect our governments and leaders to do things for us — with their staff and resources — what are you doing as an individual? How are you empowering the person next to you, and how are you empowering yourself? Nothing stays with people as much as the knowledge and skills they gain and then can share.
I didn’t have a laptop when I was leaving Nigeria for the U.S. A young friend in Nigeria gave me a laptop — they empowered me. If they hadn’t, I couldn’t be here today. So, my question is, as a youth, how are you empowering yourself and those near you?
As individuals, as students, we should leave our comfort zone and try to do more. We should have a giving mindset. However, you can’t give what you don’t have. If you want to offer solutions, you must have them. How do you get them? Through quality engagement, skill acquisition and knowledge. They open our minds and help us give more.
At the same time, students may not be engaged because they do not know the world. Because many of us are so comfortable, we don’t know how poor others are. I’ve told others that one pair of Nike sneakers could keep another student in school for a semester. Know that people out there are hurting, especially the parts of Africa yet to witness any form of development and conflict zones like Ukraine.
I believe we all must put ourselves more into the world.
What is your next step?
For me, I’m going to be more innovative. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. I want to work with international development organizations working to alleviate poverty across the globe. I’m currently applying for the Young Professionals program of the World Bank and internships in other international development agencies. Eventually, I will be pursuing a doctorate in international development.