People > Student Profiles > kendra leith
- Class:MCP '09
- Home:Holden, MA USA
- Undergraduate Degree:Wheaton College USA
- Geographic Areas of Interest:Latin America and the Carribbean, and have also done work in India and Tanzania.
- Recent Awards:Winner of the MIT $100k and $1k Competition for the Development Track (2007)
- Jean Mulcahy Keefe '44 Prize in Economics-Undergrad
- Trustee Scholar (4 year merit scholarship)-Undergrad
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Q. Why did you come to DUSP?
Leith: I came to DUSP for several reasons. First of all, many of the professors including Alice Amsden, Judith Tendler, Diane Davis and Bish Sanyal are working on interesting research topics. In addition, DUSP offers a wide variety of classes and provides students with the opportunity to take classes in Sloan, at Harvard, etc. I also like the emphasis on hands-on learning through the practicum program. Finally, before coming DUSP, I met several students and faculty members. They were very welcoming and had similar interests, which piqued my interest in the program even more.
Q. Did you have any experience in the field of development that prepared you for what you are doing here?
Leith: In January 2007, I led the D-Lab India trip. D-Lab is a class at MIT (made up of mostly undergrads) that provides students with an introduction to international development and appropriate technology. While in India we interviewed people about their cooking habits, demonstrated the pot-in-pot refrigeration technology and talked to doctors and patients about issues they encountered related to tuberculosis drug adherence. After arriving at DUSP, I also led the D-Lab India 2008 trip to Ahmedabad and Ranikhet, India.
In addition, in June 2007, I traveled to Tanzania to help establish connections with our community partner for D-Lab 2008. I also helped assess the technological needs of the town through interviews with citizens, government officials and staff members at an NGO in Kisarawe, Tanzania.
Q. What has surprised you most about the program?
Leith: Although the people in DUSP are all interested in trying to improve the world, they have had very different educational and work experiences. In addition, most of us will pursue very different careers in various regions of the world, which surprised me because we are all “planners” in one form or another. However, this makes studying at DUSP all that more interesting.
Q. Have your ideas changed at all since arriving?
Leith: My ideas about development have changed a fair amount since arriving at DUSP. The DUSP faculty has taught me that as planners, we really need to enable countries to develop themselves because they understand their challenges much better than we do. In addition, I have also learned that poverty alleviation programs are not enough. We need to generate jobs and actually improve people’s livelihoods, rather than putting a short term band-aid on the “problem”.
Q. What are your plans for the summer?
Leith: For most of the summer, I will be doing research in Saltillo, Mexico on the impacts of the introduction of technology on knowledge based assets in the auto parts industry. I will also spend some time at MIT organizing the second annual International Development Design Summit.