Reflections from the Capital

By Kira Vandenbrande, B.A. International Development ’17

As I complete my final year as an undergraduate at UCLA, I have begun to rethink my career trajectory. Had someone asked me prior to Spring break whether or not I would choose to pursue a master’s degree, I would have likely responded no. However, one trip to D.C. pushed me to consider a different path. After hearing from experts across the development field, I realized that my B.A. in International Development would not suffice. Now, I am excited to apply for UCLA’s MURP program after working for a year. I currently minor in Urban and Regional Studies, and I believe I will benefit greatly from continuing in the field.

During a study abroad Fall quarter, I spent nearly four months interning for the organization Aastha Parivaar. Their goal is to empower and protect male, female, and transgender sex workers through skill-building and health initiatives. Upon my return, I joined the water rights organization DIGDEEP to work with members of the Navajo Nation to install water infrastructure. These experiences enhanced my knowledge of development processes and shaped my goals at the start of the spring break trip.

Spring break in D.C. helped me build connections I otherwise had limited access to. It was also essential in shaping my post-graduate goals. I am grateful to have been welcomed by the program administrators and fellow students. Our hosts at each organization were gracious and informative, so much so that I have maintained contact with many of them following the program. Their advice will benefit me for years to come.