Alumna describes journey leading to policy research

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A screenshot from the Oct. 5 presentation (Image courtesy AUS)

By Shaikha Majid

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Education “can help you develop skills, identify your added value, and broaden your negotiation space to effect change,” American University of Sharjah alumna Vidya Diwakar said in an online International Studies event on Oct. 5.

Diwakar is a research fellow in the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network at the Overseas Development Institute in London.

At the ODI, Diwakar said, her aim is to understand the drivers of poverty. Her work often focuses on studying the roles of gender and armed conflict in contributing to varied poverty dynamics.

“This research can be aided through quantitative analysis, qualitative interviews and analysis, and a range of applied skill sets,” she added.

She said that education and skills development is an important factor for conducting effective research, by strengthening an understanding of various research methods, geographies, and substantive research issues. 

She advised students to apply for universities, jobs, and other areas of interest even if they don’t meet all the criteria, as the skills developed through university are often transferrable. 

Talking about the challenges she faced, Diwakar said that a big challenge was in negotiating her choices with family. Another practical challenge was in shifting from an American education system to a British one where the course structure and examinations were radically different.

Diwakar worked for Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi from 2013-2015 and undertook a consultancy with UNICEF in 2015.

She has written and reviewed many articles, reports, and book chapters on poverty in South and Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the MENA Region.

Diwakar, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and economics in 2012, received a master’s degree in economics from the University of Cambridge. She will graduate later this month with a PhD in education from the University of Cambridge.