Jessie Hughes

MPS, Global Development
Tell us a fun fact about you.

I once spent six months living in the woods as part of completing a thru hike on the Appalachian Trail.

What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

As a result of our changing climate we are seeing unprecedented damage to assets, depletion of resources, and displacement of peoples. I would like to spend my career working to mitigate the impact of a changing climate on vulnerable populations and displaced populations, pursue a comprehensive approach to development and climate resilience as applied to urban settings, and work to close the psychological gap between humans and the environment we live in.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

Before I came home to the Finger Lakes I was serving my second round with the Peace Corps in Nepal. My time there was spent enhancing local crops, introducing new ones, and conducting trainings in a variety of subjects including women’s health and hygienic menstruation practices, nutrition, income generation, and skills enhancement. In my free time I would knit socks with my village women and hike through the Himalayas in plastic flip-flops; hobbies I still enjoy.

What does global development mean to you?

Developments for me is the task of working to ensure that all of humanity benefits from the discoveries and products being made in this new century. It also means helping those around you reach their full potential, whatever they determine that to be.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

In the wake of Hurricane Maria on St. Croix, USVI, my then home on the island was destroyed, and I started work with the American Red Cross’s efforts on the ground. Relief work introduced me to another dimension of development. I witnessed tremendous, selfless work; but I also observed short-sighted efforts by many organizations that had a long term impact on my home. It was an enlightening look at development and relief work both from the perspective of a local affected by the disaster, and an organization stretching their resources to the limit. That event was the catalyst I needed to decide on a career in development.

How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?

I anticipate using this degree to redefine my ideas of service, and pivot from my former profession of architecture into a new career path in development that I find deeply meaningful.