MDP Current Students


                         The MDP classes of 2020 (above) and of 2019 (below).

Class of 2020

Avery Julian Bakerfrom Knoxville, Tennessee

Prior to joining MDP, Avery served as a water, sanitation & health volunteer with Peace Corps in The Republic of Vanuatu from 2015 to 2017. He endured remote environments, facilitated a USAID grant and UNDP project, and was ceremonially bestowed with the honor of a chiefly title by village elders. This life-changing experience and cultural immersion introduced him to the climate change crisis and its effects, which he witnessed first-hand along with the poverty epidemic; it pushed him to contemplate a career in international development, improving livelihoods around the world. He became
Natalia Ann Cachora

Natalia Cachora is a first-year MDP student and a Graduate Assistant with the UA Native American Student Affairs office. Within the field of development, her focus is on health justice, including such as  Native American health disparities, indigenous natural and cultural preservation, and the problem of exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides and byproducts of mining activites.   Prior degree:B.S., Care, Health, and Society, University of Arizona 
Abbey Marie Fluckiger
Oregon State UniversityEnvironmental Economics and Policy

Robert Hartwellfrom Bedford,Massachusetts

Robert Hartwell graduated from the University of New Hampshire with BA degrees in both Psychology and in Justice Studies, as well as a minor in Forensic Science. In 2016, he joined the Peace Corps as an Agriculture Extension Agent in the Adamawa region of Cameroon, where his primary project was the development and management of a 2.5-acre demonstration plot used as an outdoor classroom to teach farmers new, and more efficient, farming techniques and improved crop varieties. He also started a girls' group, in which he led weekly workshops that covered topics such as career planning and
Amata Rwagashayija Inshuti
Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, RwandaAgriculture

Laura Elizabeth McCann
University of FloridaEnvironmental Science and Russian

Jake Meyersfrom Richboro, Pennsylvania

Jake Meyers graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. During his undergraduate studies, Jake conducted environmental research projects through a combination of semesters abroad, fellowships, and independently designed research projects in the Galapagos Islands (ecotourism and development), South Africa (great white shark conservation; semester abroad), China & Japan (sustainable practices in the auto industry), and across several Southeast Asian nations (researched how Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam shape environmental perspectives; studied
Mary Ngugi
University of ArizonaPublic Health

Abdul Sigal
University Of California-DavisManagerial Economics

Abdul Sigal is a first-year MDP student and a Coverdell Fellow, having served from 2013 to 2015 as a grassroots agriculture and small business volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ghana. Subsequently, still as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, he worked as part of the agriculture and livelihoods team of  the USAID - RING (Resiliency in Northern Ghana) project in Northern Ghana. He previously completed a bachelor's in managerial economics from the University of California-Davis.Abdul's primary areas of focus are food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and refugee issues in the context of
Samantha Jane Turner

Samantha arrived as a first year MDP student with a background and passion for food security and community-driven food solutions. Samantha currently works for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and is strongly invested in supporting her local community here in Tucson. Before working with the food bank, Samantha served as an AmeriCorps service member, with FoodCorps, a national nonprofit connecting kids to healthy food in schools in Prescott, Arizona and specifically with the Prescott Farmers Market. After her service Samantha was hired by FoodCorps as the Arizona fellow and supported

Class of 2019

Deborah Dimmettfrom Tucson, Arizona

Deborah Dimmet is an MDP student and also an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. Her regional interests and work are in Caribbean/Latin American regions, with a particular focus on Haiti.  She has 10 years of experience in Cuba (1993-2003) and more than 15 years of experience in Haiti (2003-present).  Her interests in Cuba have emphasized culture and linguistic in Afro-Cuban religions, and a continuation of that research led her to Haiti in 2003.  Deborah is currently also the
Anna Jacksonfrom Tucson, Arizona

Anna was first interested in pursuing a Master’s in Development Practice because of her long-time passion for human rights and social justice. Her early exposure to migration and borderlands issues in Southern Arizona influenced her decision to work in the criminal justice, immigration defense, and non-profit sectors. Although she is still passionate about migration advocacy, her experience in MDP has opened up more areas of interest. Anna has also traveled extensively to developing countries, so coupled with her commitment for social justice, MDP was a perfect fit. Anna’s
Philana A Jeremiahfrom Bronx, New York

Philana is an MDP student focused on environmental sustainability issues. She is particularly interested in using geographic information systems (GIS) to study the impact of plastic waste on beaches. She spent the summer of 2018 on her field practicum in Eleuthera, Bahamas promoting GIS as a tool for analysis and learning about environmental sustainability practices from the NGO perspective. Philana has a background in environmental sustainability and training in GIS. As a Teaching Assistant, she teaches an undergraduate GIS lab. Philana plans to enroll in a doctoral program in
Amel Lebattfrom Nouakchott, Mauritania

Amel Lebatt is from Nouakchott, Mauritania and has focused her MDP work on the global refugee crisis. For her summer field practicum, she worked in the US with a resettlement program and in particular with refugees who had suffered from torture. Amel’s work consisted in helping refugees adjust culturally and, in the longer-term, to reach self-sufficiency. Her particular focus is on how mental health affects the pace at which refugees reach self-sufficiency.Amel’s experiences in different countries have allowed her to have a better understanding of diverse cultures. Coming from
Denisse Ortega Lorona

Denisse Ortega Lorona is a second-year MDP students who works at The Garden Kitchen, a University of Arizona program combating food insecurity in Tucson and elsewhere in Pima County. Prior degrees: B.A., political science, University of Arizona   
Michelle Schatz

Michelle came into the MDP after completing a bachelor’s in community planning from Northern Arizona University. Her interest in development practice stemmed from working with a grass-roots nonprofit in Indonesia that facilitated direct trade for poor coffee farmers. Seeing the complexities of poverty and inequality in development has fueled her passion to create sustainable, equitable and culturally-appropriate approaches to the challenges of development. Throughout her graduate studies, Michelle has become focused on the global refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement process
Joseph Stewartfrom Miami, Florida

Prior to enrolling in the MDP program, Joe spent ten years living and working in Asia, first in Japan as an English teacher, and later as a Peace Corps Education volunteer in East Java, Indonesia.  Joe’s Peace Corps’ experience led him to become interested in exploring a career in development.  That interest ultimately led Joe to the University of Arizona in order to study more about the myriad of challenges facing development today.During his time abroad, Joe picked up valuable language skills (Japanese and Bahasa Indonesia), as well as cross-cultural knowledge relevant
Sandra WiebeCarman, Manitoba, Canada
University of Manitoba; University of WinnipegBachelor in Kinesiology; Dual Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in International Development Studies and Human Rights & Global Studies

It was my focus on health that originally motived me to pursue a Bachelor of Kinesiology. It was my wider understanding of the importance of the social determinants of health, however, that led me to pursue a second Bachelor with Honors in International Development Studies and Human Rights. an understanding that has further driven me to pursue the MDP program. My academic studies and professional work have focused not only on the social determinants of health, but also on community development, newcomer settlement, and social justice research, including a study on Woman and Homelessness
Kelli WilliamsPhoenix, Arizona
University of ArizonaBachelor of Anthopology

Kelli’s research is focused on land rights claims and the impact of climate change on Indigenous communities. In summer 2018, for her field practicum, she collaborated on research in Maasailand, Kenya utilizing ethnographic decolonizing methodologies to initiate community-driven change. This research focused on the impacts of drought driven by climate change compounded with issues of land and grazing, which was an issue  identified by community members as the biggest threat to their community and livelihoods. By receiving her bachelor's degree from 

Class of 2018

Amanda HixonTucson, Arizona
University of Colorado and University of IdahoBA in Environmental Studies and Master of Education

 Expect nothing, and live frugally on surprise. This is one of my many life mantras. I would say that it is a culmination of many unexpected twists and turns in life that has brought me to this MDP program. I lived in Tucson until I was ten years old, and never thought I would be coming back here. I first started my undergraduate career at New York University on September 9th, 2001. Yikes! What a shocker! After a year at NYU and a semester in Prague, I transferred to University of Colorado and obtained a BA in Environmental Studies, with a 1.5 year volunteer mission in Spain in the
Karina Martinez Hermosillo, Sonora
Sonora State UniversityIndustrial and Environmental Engineering

I was born and raised in Hermosillo, Sonora, where in May of 2016 I graduate with honors from Sonora State University as an Industrial and Environmental Engineer. During my years in the program I was a volunteer tutor in a program, which the main focus was to orientate students in different subjects offered in the school year. While studying at the University a tragic event occurred; in which an industry accidentally spilled leachates on the state's main river, causing serious damage to the environment, as well as public health and socio-economic problems in riverine communities. This is
Chris Mazzarella

Chris has had a lifelong love affair with food and so has found himself working at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona where his love meets work in food security and justice.  Chris spent many years working on the organization’s farms and now runs a program working with local, low-income schools where he and his team create experiential learning opportunities through school garden programs.  Because of his work, his love of food has grown into a passion for food justice and security.  Much of the work he’s done is in the realm of community development and so