If there’s one thing Morehead-Cain Alumni have in common, it’s that they each are devoted to living by their values to make a positive impact on the world. There’s no way to summarize what all Morehead-Cain Alumni are up to around the world. But here’s one example of a highly international life being lived out by Justin Loiseau ’12—adapted from an email he recently sent to friends and family. Justin was an environmental studies and economics double major from Charlotte, N.C.

Uganda (2014)
After completing my Master’s in Economics at the University of Auckland, I returned to Uganda after a four-year hiatus. There, I worked on a research project evaluating the effect of increasing government budget transparency on public service provision. Philosophically speaking, it’s a similar conundrum to the tree falling in a forest. If a village’s water pump is broken and no one knows the government allocated funds a year ago to fix it, can anyone complain? Spoiler alert: it depends on their political party. With a trusty team of researchers, I had a varied and exciting task list: overseeing surveying, coding data cleaning, managing partner relationships, and daydreaming of the next opportunity to whitewater kayak the Nile River.

A man speaking with a group of adults in a classroom.

Surveyor training for Innovations for Poverty Action

A man kayaking.

Kayak Kodak moment (not pictured: my usual MO of schlepping through a rapid underwater, attempting to swallow the entire contents of the river)

Ahmedabad, India (2014)
PSA: Heavy rains at 120° F (49°C) are only fun if you’re a poached egg or a thermophile. But after buzzing my hair and accepting that my shirt would get more wet than my towel ever felt, I found my footing. At work, I was tasked with developing a similar data-gathering system to what I had just developed in Uganda. In Gujarat, one of the most polluted states in India, we wanted to pilot whether an emissions trading scheme (similar to a cap and trade carbon market) could cut pollution among 1,000 textile factories. And yes, I saw the Taj Mahal.

A view of of a large body of water with mountains in the background.

Shrine and Himalayan foothills in Kashmir

Cambridge, Massachusetts (2014—2018)
I lived in the same place for (gasp) four entire years—and it was wonderful! I worked at MIT in an economics research group, either (1) developing or (2) sharing results from research projects like those I worked on in Uganda and India with policymakers around the world to help inform their decisions (where applicable). A day at the office was, well, a day at the office: calls, meetings, reading, and writing. But I worked on fascinating projects with wonderful colleagues and professors. Plus, who can argue with free Dunkin Donuts on Wednesdays?

A “normal travel day” is oxymoronic, but examples include heading to Sierra Leone to understand whether small incentives could encourage families scarred by Ebola to return to health clinics, exploring violent extremism research opportunities in a Nigerian state wracked by Boko Haram, and (probably the most bizarre of all) presenting to space policymakers (yes, people trying to develop policy for that area outside our atmosphere) on the challenges of development and the role of space.

Evenings usually involved cycling around Boston, going for a climb, or cooking dinner with flatmates. On weekends, I’d usually run off into the woods of New Hampshire or Vermont to backcountry snowboard in the winter or climb/backpack in the summer.

Two people at river.

River crossing in Sierra Leone to visit health facilities