Student Feature: Nadia Ilunga

Q&A with student Nadia Ilunga

Nadia Ilunga, GHD'18, shares how the program has allowed her to explore various approaches to development.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about where you’re from and your background?

I have one parent from the United States and one parent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, so I like to claim both places as home! I grew up predominantly in the DRC, which had a huge impact on my worldview and what I wanted to do with my life career-wise. I did my undergraduate studies at The College of William and Mary - one of my FAVORITE places on earth - and then went back to DRC to work for a small non-profit.

Q: Why did you choose GHD? 

I wanted a graduate program that would give me a lot of hands-on experience, both in terms of skills-based courses and internship experiences. With the summer internship program component and the DC-based internship requirement, I found GHD to be very focused on training individuals who not only understand the academic and theoretical components of development, but the practitioner side as well- so here I am!

Q: How has GHD allowed you to pursue your academic and professional interests? 

I came to GHD with a strong interest in exploring private sector-led approaches to development. I’ve been able to take a variety of GHD classes that cater to those interests, and I have appreciated the flexibility to pursue classes in other programs that suit my interests. Having only had non-profit experience prior to coming to Georgetown, I was also determined to do my summer internship with a private company, and the GHD network was instrumental in making that possible.

Q: Are you involved in any groups or activities on or off campus?

Yes! During my first year on campus, I served as the Vice President of the Africa Forum, a platform for SFS graduate students to connect and discuss issues pertinent to the African continent. This year, I was deeply involved with the third annual Georgetown Africa Business Conference, serving as the Director of Content. On the weekends, I work as a tour guide for international delegations visiting the US through the International Visitor Leadership Program.

Q: What have been some valuable insights you’ve gained so far from the GHD Program?  

I only had one year of work experience in development before coming to GHD, so I’ve really enjoyed learning from the wide and varied work experiences of my classmates. For anything from trying to understand broad economic concepts, to figuring out the technicalities of Stata, they have been the best resource!

Q: What is an interesting thing that few people know about you? 

I used to swim competitively. I don’t swim very much anymore, but I signed up for an open water 4k during my internship this summer and I won second place in my age category!