Shannon Brink ’09, MPA ’13, a native of Denver, Colo., graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the Woodrow Wilson School with certificates in Latin American and environmental studies. As an undergraduate, Brink was deeply involved with Princeton’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, serving as co-president, secretary and manager of projects in Peru. Brink also studied at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, where she began research on her thesis on the Inter-American Foundation. While in SINSI, she interned with the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington, D.C., and Nicaragua. She was a fellow at the USAID mission in Lima, Peru, where she specialized in economic growth and environment programs, as well as public-private partnerships and communications. Fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese, Brink spent the summer of 2012 at the U.S. embassy in Quito. She graduated in June 2013 and was sworn in as a Foreign Service Officer in January 2014 with a first posting to Santo Domingo. As an economic officer, she looks forward to promoting sustainable economic growth and environmental policies in developing countries.
It can be difficult to break into federal agencies because many require at least a master’s degree. Through SINSI, I’ve had unparalleled opportunity to start my career with USAID. With SINSI’s flexibility, I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with USAID contractors on project implementation and at the USAID mission in Lima, Peru, where I have been fully integrated into policy planning, implementation and reporting. From working with project beneficiaries in the field to staff support to the U.S. ambassador, I’ve had a chance to learn about the technical, political and administrative operations at USAID and evaluate whether it is the right career for me. When I explain my job to my colleagues at USAID, many are a little envious and wish they had had similar opportunities early in their careers. Their positive reactions about SINSI and the types of positions it makes accessible to students underscores my incredible fortune as a Scholar to work with and learn from experienced career foreign service officers while taking real responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of USAID programs.