Sage Grasso-Monroe

MPS, Global Development
  • Hometown: Queensbury, New York
  • College attended and major: University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Bachelor of Science in Public Health
  • Coverdell Fellowship awardee
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?

The pressing need for food security through interdisciplinary and creative solutions has driven my passion and career goals to encompass international agriculture in order to address this fundamental challenge. My ambition is to participate in an agriculture-based program that is combined with international and rural development. My interest lies in the integrative approach between plant science and agriculture to address malnutrition and poverty. This is an essential aspect of global development as crop production for low-income areas is vital for meeting essential food needs around the world. I envision myself in the career field of international development centered around discovering approaches to sustain and feed a population that continues to grow, with an emphasis on low-income and rural areas.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

I was stationed in the town of Mehal Amba, Ethiopia as a Peace Corps volunteer. My primary project was focused on constructing chicken coops and home gardens to improve food security. I worked with 25 low-income farming families to build chicken coops and access hens in conjunction with poultry maintenance training. This project was coupled with demonstrations, educational meetings and construction of sustainable, nutrient-diverse home gardens. In addition, my counterpart and I facilitated training sessions with community members about Kenyan top-bar beehives. These agriculture initiatives were coupled with nutrition education and cooking demonstrations to incorporate more nutrient dense foods in cultural dishes.

My secondary projects were focused at the local primary school. I facilitated, along with local counterparts, an environmental science club, gender club, English club and an HIV/AIDS prevention club. I was also involved with teaching 8th grade English through comprehensive lessons with students, as well as hosting English educational opportunities for teachers.

What does global development mean to you?

Global development is an integrated approach that involves holistically looking at countries and communities in cultural contexts to help provide relief and aid. There is a wide array of sectors within global development, but all involve activism, advocacy and awareness. Global Development addresses poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, violence and tyranny throughout the whole world.

Global development professionals are qualified and trained in specialized fields and work together with communities to help train and implement sustainable and regenerative projects. Global development should be a partnership with locals in the countries and communities involved, where locals are at the forefront of organization and implementation. This allows for a sustainable solution without dependency. The role of a global development worker is to connect communities with resources and strategies that are best suited for their specific needs and wants while keeping as many colleagues and resources as local as possible.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? 

I am grateful to be in the 2020 cohort of the CALS Global Development program. I am excited to work with the well-qualified professors and staff at Cornell to get a well-rounded education, preparing me for a future in Global Development through agriculture-based initiatives. I am privileged and honored to be joining such a prestigious institution such as Cornell and look forward to playing a dynamic role in finding solutions to address food insecurity.