2008-09 Diplomacy Fellow at the Agency for International Development
For AAAS Fellows Kelley Cormier and Matt Wilson, a high school class and a chance encounter with a professor steered their careers toward the AAAS Fellowships.
When Kelley Cormier was growing up in Cumberland, Maine, she could never have guessed that a high school Russian language class would shape her life’s work. Traveling twice to Russia as an exchange student and then to Kazakhstan with the Peace Corps, Kelley learned fluent Russian and discovered an interest in international development and agriculture. “I applied for the fellowship because I wanted to understand and be involved in helping develop international programs and strategies.”
Kelley, who has a PhD in development studies with a specialization in economics and law from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spent her first fellowship year in the Office of Education, Higher Education, and Workforce Team at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). One of her duties was to work on program monitoring and evaluation. “An evaluation can affect the direction of a program,” explains Kelley. “And, it can affect its outcome.”
A social scientist by training, Kelley was able to use her skills to fill this need in her office and do it in a methodologically rigorous way. “There is recognition of the need to understand and evaluate youth programs. Without evaluation, you don’t know the reasons for differing outcomes and don’t have justifications for program funding,” she says.
After her year at USAID, Kelley accepted a position at the Foreign Agricultural Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “This position will be a step toward my area of technical expertise in agricultural development,” she says. “The fellowship has absolutely opened doors. There are a lot of options and career paths I can take from here.”