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Rebecca Parkinson

About Rebecca

  • Field of study: International Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Hometown: Albury, NSW, Australia

  • Fun fact: Grew up on a broad acre wheat and fine wool merino property in southeastern Australia

Why did you choose the CALS MPS degree program?

The Cornell CALS reputation. The program is only one year, flexible, and allows the opportunity to take courses across Cornell, including the business school. This allows for a curriculum tailored to meet specific interest areas. 

What have been some of the most rewarding moments?

Three things: growing my networks through my research interviews on food focused impact investment into horticultural value chains; membership of Assoc. Prof Miguel Gomez’s research group (my academic advisor); and being exposed to the wonderful work and relevant research of other departments through seminars, forums, visiting scholars, and classes with CIPA Environmental Finance, the Johnson Business school, Lab of Ornithology, and the ILR School. Much of this was a result of the Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion project at Johnson.

What are your short-term and long-term career goals?

My short term goal is to leverage my experience using microfinance impact investment as a development lever to transition my focus onto more equitable and sustainable food systems.

Long term, I’d like to oversee an investment portfolio into small-medium enterprises operating in food value chains, delivering healthy foods to BoP (bottom of the pyramid) families.

How has your CALS MPS experience changed you, both personally and professionally? 

Professionally, my MPS experience has re-framed and deepened my perspectives on climate change and environmental degradation as closely tied to food security, poverty alleviation, farmer welfare and livelihoods, and human nutrition and health.

Personally, I so value this opportunity to be absorbed in learning and testing ideas, I realize it is so important for me to work collaboratively with motivated, capable colleagues who can think outside the box and together be bold for making a positive impact on the world.

What interests you most about the field of International Agriculture and Rural Development? 

Bringing the science of agricultural production together with human, social, ecological and market systems. Over two billion people from rural and agricultural families experience great inequality in opportunity and material wealth, so understanding how best to serve them presents the best opportunity to make a difference at scale

What are you most excited about as you return to your career? 

I’m excited about designing and delivering innovative financial incentives, instruments and structures to address complex environmental, agricultural and poverty challenges.

What do you like about living in Ithaca, NY? 

The natural beauty and the seasons. The small town lifestyle was a change for me, but directed me to appreciate a quieter, more focused lifestyle. Fewer distractions turned into a good thing!