When people ask Yasmine Karam, ’17, why she, a double major in psychology and leadership studies, is pursuing a career in international development, she has an answer ready. She wants to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

“My passion is not only in traveling and living overseas, but also studying, understanding, and working with all types of people; international development’s aim, at its core, is to support sustainable improvements in the quality of life of people all over the world,” Karam elaborates.

For her Jepson Internship, Karam spent the summer working at Roots of Development, an international development organization that currently focuses on efforts in Haiti. She explains that Roots of Development stood out because of its “community-driven approach” and guiding principles.

“These principles really resonated with me, and I was struck by how many of them reflected theories and best practices we’ve studied in the Jepson School, like diverse leadership, group decision-making processes, a policy of inclusion, and strong organization structure,” says Karam.

In particular, Karam highlights the collaborative work environment at Roots of Development, which she discussed in terms of some of the theories she learned about in Dr. Al Goethals’ Theories and Models class.

“We operate in a collaborative setting; no product is finalized until all of us have given our feedback, regardless of whether it was created by the intern or the executive director. The non-hierarchical approach to our work allows us to channel everyone’s strengths and perspectives into everything we produce, which makes for both a higher quality output and a greater sense of self-efficacy,” says Karam, noting that her experience writing group papers in Jepson classes helped her collaborate effectively and constructively in the workplace.

Her favorite project was collaborating with her supervisors on a grant proposal template for future initiatives. Karam notes that because grant proposals are designed to outline and describe an organization’s mission, methods, and goals in the most concrete, compelling terms, the project has given her a deeper and more complete understanding of Roots of Development’s current projects in Haiti and its intentions to expand to other parts of the world.

Additionally, at the start of her internship, Karam helped to organize a Haitian Soiree in Washington, D.C., Roots of Development’s eighth annual fundraising event. While the event provided Karam with an opportunity to meet some influential figures in the international development field and in politics, including Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Karam says that the most important part of the evening was listening to the featured speakers talk about the work that Roots of Development is doing on the ground in Haiti.

“Knowing I’m contributing to the work of an organization that is playing a key role in improving the quality of life of thousands of people in a developing country has affirmed for me that I should pursue a career in this field,” concludes Karam.