My journey from Zimbabwe to MIT

I am a statistics and economics graduate from Zimbabwe. After spending a few years in the banking sector, I realized my real passion lies in development economics. To this end, I decided to venture into the development sector to gain hands-on experience and contribute towards alleviating societal ills in a practical way. 

Joining and working with like-minded organizations such as the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town, and later the DG Murray Trust, gave me firsthand experience of the policy discourse around issues such as early childhood development—and the absolute necessity to give children, especially those from vulnerable communities, a proper head start to their education if their potential is to be fully realized.

After working for a few years I felt the need to acquire a qualification that would equip me with the necessary skills to help tackle some of the challenges that I had been exposed to in my work and life. That‘s when I discovered J-PAL’s online MicroMasters in Data, Economics and Development Policy, offered through MIT’s Department of Economics. 

I signed up for all five courses in February 2018 and by May 2018, I was sitting for the proctored examinations.

The MicroMasters gave me the opportunity to expand my understanding of real evidence-based interventions, and all the courses deepened my understanding of development issues. The collection of readings helped me comprehend the power of research, and courses like Designing and Running Randomized Evaluations are proving invaluable to my work. 

Practically, the MicroMasters has enabled me to apply new methodologies in my work. For example, evaluating the impact of a youth leadership program called Activate! required the use of a “difference in differences” approach in analyzing data, a type of analysis that was covered in the MicroMasters. 

In addition, the application of various computing technologies such as coding in R and machine learning broadened my analytical skills and enhanced my understanding of how data can be used to tell a story. 

All in all, the MicroMasters has opened doors that I never imagined existed. The opportunity to complete a full Master's degree at MIT is one example! I feel greatly privileged to be part of the first cohort of students starting this Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy next year, having made it through a very rigorous yet exciting application process. 

I know the opportunity to work with top researchers will enable me to glean from the best and test my ideas with the brightest minds. It will also place me in a position to be an ambassador for my people, proudly representing who we are and sharing our unique story with the world.

In conclusion, I highly encourage those planning to enroll in the MicroMasters program to do so; it is affordable and provides access to quality and practically applicable education.

Good luck, you will enjoy it!

The next semester of online MicroMasters courses begins September 3, 2019. Enroll now!

Posted by Lovemore Mawere