Alumni Spotlight: Kim Fernandes

Kim Fernandes, Class of 2011, IPOL

Research Associate, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)


Why did you choose Georgetown University in Qatar?

I chose Georgetown because I thought the concept of a liberal arts education was incredibly interesting. Though I didn’t yet know exactly what I wanted to do after my degree, I knew sort of by process of elimination that I didn’t want to be a doctor, engineer, lawyer, banker or consultant – and so deciding to choose Georgetown because it allowed me to keep my options open.  

How did you end up working at JPAL in India?

Right after I graduated, I started teaching 4th graders at a government school in Mumbai, India. I did a Teach for India fellowship for two years, through which I was able to understand first-hand some of the issues and challenges within the primary education space in India.

After my fellowship, I wanted to start working in the education policy realm, and so went on to do my Ed. M. in International Education Policy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Through the course of my time at graduate school, I saw that many of the solutions to problems plaguing education – primary, secondary and higher – began very early on, and so started to develop a deep interest in early childhood education. I graduated in May and moved to Bhubaneswar, India to work with the Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

As a field research associate, I work on the implementation of a randomized control trial evaluating an early childhood development program that Pratham, an Indian NGO, is implementing in three districts in rural Odisha. Our hope is to generate rigorous evidence about cost-effective, sustainable interventions in early childhood care in India.


What is the best career advice you received?

Every time I wonder if I’m taking the right step or if I could be something better for my own career, my parents have pointed out that I should just do what I’m most passionate about and everything else will follow. This is a huge cliché, but has probably also been the one thing that has done me most good when making career decisions.


If you could have another career, what would it be?

I don’t think I’d ever want to be anything other than a teacher.


How did Georgetown influence your career path?

Georgetown gave me a lot of space to explore what my interests might be, and accommodated them as they grew and changed. From being able to teach English to migrant workers freshman year to knowing that I could somehow drag the topic of education into my thesis senior year, I always had opportunities to explore different aspects of the education space and to see what might interest me the most. The Georgetown community – both in Doha and DC – has always been incredibly supportive and welcoming, and even as an alumni, I am often able to find or make connections in different parts of the world with fellow Hoyas.