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  • Polson Institute for Global Development
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development
With a commitment to youth empowerment and agricultural development, David Arnaud Ngam à Kibeng is championing growth and innovation for local realities in Africa.

The future of agricultural development is in the hands of youth who want to make a difference, according to David, a current Master of Professional Studies (MPS) student in Global Development and recipient of the Bouriez Family Fellowship. David’s on-the-ground development fieldwork in his home country of Cameroon brings unique insight to the Global Development community.

Before coming to Cornell, David also worked for Cameroon’s Ministry of Economy and Planning. By assisting in public investment budgeting in the country, he built a vast repertoire of community involvement. Ranging from issues with fisheries to environmental forests, David was tasked with utilizing data banks of related projects in order to evaluate the relevance of current proposals. He recalls that the administrative experience was valuable because it molded him into a conscientious, motivated individual; however, he soon recognized that his true passion lies with on-site development work instead.

Since then, one of David’s most prominent experiences was his work with PICHNET, which was founded by Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, a professor of global development. The long-term research project seeks to empower youth in Cameroon through research, capacity, and policy communication. David primarily assisted with technical activities such as social science research, IT, and data surveys. He also monitored effective communication practices while contributing to activities in partnership with both private and public structures. 

Photos from the field

After working with fellow Cameroonian youth at PICHNET, David realized the powerful role that they can play not only in agriculture but also in the development sector at large. 

“In activities where youth requested me to mentor, I’d say yes,” David recalls. 

He continues to connect with PICHNET and its alumni through his project titled A Second Gondwana? Addressing Africa’s Growing Economic (D)rift, funded by the Polson Institute for Global Development. As David administers key geographical analyses and visualizations, the project critically examines the influence of uneven globalization on growing economic inequality in Africa. 

When asked about future career aspirations, David wishes to join non-profits and work with youth, in order to examine how agriculture is a real contributor to development.

It was this desire that led him to join Cornell Global Development. As an incoming international student he faced adversity such as COVID and travel concerns, but he persevered and began to flourish in the department. David mentions that one of his favorite classes was Farmer-centered Research and Extension taught by Terry Tucker, professor of the practice in Global Development and director of the Global Development MPS program. He was extremely interested in learning about the problems farmers are exposed to, and diverse viewpoints regarding leading research approaches; it fascinated him that every context has a different strategy. This class steeped in case studies and active participation ignited his passion for agricultural development. This semester, David is involved in an agrifood systems enhancement class called Food, Agriculture, and Environment, which partners with the Chinese Agricultural University. He notes that the time difference is challenging but the learning outcomes are so rewarding. 

David’s engagement with Cornell transcends beyond the classroom. Over the summer, he was a part of a project in Eswatini where he supervised an undergraduate team of sophomore civil engineers, furthering his desire to work with youth on both a team and community level. David observes that youth-centric projects and approaches are essential. 

“Youth are most effective when they are building self-confidence and self-awareness, leading to the ability to define specific goals that serve at the forefront of development work,” David shares. 

David also serves as an ambassador in the CALS Office of Professional Programs as he helps prospective students learn about Cornell’s Global Development MPS program. He also networks with professional programs and conducts workshops. 

When asked to give advice to prospective students or current Global Development undergrads, David advises being connected with peers, professors, and the department by going to seminars and conferences. “It’s essential to show enthusiasm by going to the experts and showcasing your skills and dedication to participating in projects,” he says. “Find similar interests, share activities.” After all, youth are the future of development. 

 

Sushmi Majumder ’25 is a communications assistant in the Department of Global Development with a double major in Development Sociology and Communication.

 

MPS in Global Development

Our 1-year Master of Professional Studies in Global Development is designed for early and mid-career professionals to take their career to their next level. This program enhances students' practical and technical skills and prepare them for a career in field-based development and policy in low-income and rural communities around the globe. Our graduate students and alumni are at the frontlines of developing solutions to pressing issues — from agriculture and food systems to gender, economics and demographics — on the local and global scale.

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