Cultivating Leadership in Young Women at Monterey High [Jordyn Dezago MPA/IEM ’23]

Group picture of Girls Inc organization at Monterey High including MIIS Student Jordyn Dezago.
Group picture of Girls Inc organization with Jordyn Dezago.

Jordyn Dezago describes her mentoring work in the Girls Inc group at Monterey High. She accounts her connection and passion with education and community uplifting. Within this article, Jordyn shares an encouraging moment on the impact of mentorship with youth.

As a passionate educator and community advocate, I believe that the greatest knowledge we can pass on to young people is of the power of their own voice, and how to use it; to ask questions with confidence, and to speak out as allies and leaders in their communities. Before attending MIIS, I worked for 6 years in the field of education and youth development. Throughout my experiences as a teacher, mentor, youth soccer coach, and community advocate, I noticed a trending disparity between the confidence levels of boys, girls and nonbinary children, especially when it came to leadership. This struck me on a personal level, having experienced a lifetime of discrimination and sexism, and inspired me to pursue a career dedicated to empowering and inspiring young girls and LGBTQ youth. Girls Inc.’s mission of “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold” was what drew me to join their local program at Monterey High.

As a firm believer in the importance of community-based work, I was intrigued by the Girls Inc. ECHO Leadership program because it is designed to be a youth-led model; girls that graduate from the program are then paid to become facilitators and organizers for the next cohort. My role was to support and mentor the youth leaders, while modeling leadership through the individual connections I fostered with the participants.

I suggested that the next time she blanked out in front of the group, to just admit it, smile about it, and show that it’s ok to not be perfect. “In doing so, you are rejecting the unrealistic standards of perfection that girls are so often held to, and that is more powerful than anything you could say in a presentation.”

One of the most powerful moments in my ten months working with these young women was during the first few weeks of the program, when our youth-facilitators were still getting used to presenting in front of their peers. One facilitator in particular was really struggling; every time she stood up to present, her voice shook, and she seemed to immediately forget what she wanted to say. During our post-module evaluation and discussion, she said critically, “my presentation went badly, I’m sorry everyone.”
I spoke up in disagreement, pointing out that all of the participants had given positive feedback about her presentation in their evaluations. I reminded her that we all get nervous, and that her role as a facilitator was to model humanity, self-compassion, and forgiveness for her female peers. I suggested that the next time she blanked out in front of the group, to just admit it, smile about it, and show that it’s ok to not be perfect. “In doing so, you are rejecting the unrealistic standards of perfection that girls are so often held to, and that is more powerful than anything you could say in a presentation.”
I was surprised by the vulnerability in her eyes as she smiled back at me. It was a look that said “thank you for understanding what I’m going through.” As I got to know this student, I was able to see how similar we truly were – both driven to perfection; both learning the balance between achievement and self-acceptance.

I reminded her that we all get nervous, and that her role as a facilitator was to model humanity, self-compassion, and forgiveness for her female peers.

Every day with these girls was a lesson in humility, as they taught me about their own communities, families and values. During a discussion on community impact, a rather shy student spoke up about gang violence in her community, surprising us all with her extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system. I later found out that she was already taking courses at her local college, with plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice that she would eventually use to affect change in her own community.

Needless to say, every day with Girls Inc. was as much an opportunity to learn as it was to teach. My involvement with the organization provided a hands-on framework upon which I’ve been able to apply my studies at MIIS. I have gained invaluable insight into the internal operations and structure of education-based nonprofit, including the immense benefits of an educational program that is truly youth-centered. My career goal is to work in an organization that promotes gender equity and empowers young people through comprehensive sex education. Thanks in part to my hands-on experience at Girls Inc, I have secured an opportunity with the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association (TGEEA) in Taipei, Taiwan.

Up to Ears with Localization Work [Yan Ning, TLM ’20]

Yan Ning with peers at LocWorld booth at a conference.

Yan Ning describes her internship at local localization company, Translation by Design (TBD). She weighs the challenges and growth of her career from this experience. She concludes the article with tips for MIIS TLM students with the internship experience.

Translation By Design (TBD) is a local company located at Pacific Grove. It started as an interpretation management company and gradually evolved to a localization business as well. When I was offered the internship, TBD is struggling from new technology acquisition, new work flow set up and unprecedently large volume of localization requests. I am really glad that I get to join a company at this initial localization stage and see to establish a localization process.

Every course TLM offers is preparing us for the real professional world.

My first project is to evaluate and select a new Translation Management System for TBD. When I was taking the TMS courses at MIIS, I was a little skeptical as will I be able to use these skills in working? Well, it turns out everything we learn in the classroom is the actual skills required in professional setting. Every course TLM offers is preparing us for the real professional world.

I’ll conclude with an outline of some important tips for TLM students in preparation for their summer internships.

  • You might not find your dream internship, but you will in the end. Start somewhere. There is something to learn in every job, every project you work on.
  • You will encounter anti-mentor, you will encounter your true mentor as well. Each will teach you valuable lessons.
  • You don’t need to have experience to land an internship. You need to show employer that you are trainable.
  • Think about what you can do to add value to the team, to make your boss’s job easier.
  • Know what do you want to learn from this internship.

Jenna Hudson, IPD ’19


Jenna standing in front of the Namati Banner at their Washington DC office.

As the Global Programs Fellow at Namati, I was fortunate to witness a kind of organizational team that I think is very important and should be incorporated into more international development organizations. During my time, my work varied, but generally focused on providing support across programs, using data to inform strategy, facilitating learning, and developing new areas of work. The photo journal at the bottom of this page provides a deeper look into my time at Namati, including professional insights for students. 

Generally speaking, being a part of a team that focuses on building Namati into a learning organization was a very eye-opening experience. This kind of work requires a lot of critical thinking, analysis, and what I call “strechiness” – the ability to challenge preconceived ideas and understandings while thinking systemically about problems and issues. The Global Programs team at Namati asks a lot of questions like “how do we know this is true”; “how do we spread our knowledge efficiently and effectively throughout the organization”; and, “how can our failures inform and improve our strategies”. And while at first it was an adjustment for the action-oriented side of my personality, I quickly grew to enjoy and appreciate the kind of work and practice the team is cultivating within the organization. It’s a kind of work is sorely needed in international development and fortunately is slowly gaining some traction. Given its growing presence, I chose to write a blog-style write-up of my experience to try to shed some light on the field of work and how students might prepare themselves to work in this arena. 

View Jenna’s Photo Journal Here

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Carlos Henri Ferre, IEP ’19

Directed Study

Carlos doing his best traveler blogger’s impression in Mendoza, Argentina.

Ben and I went to Mendoza to investigate environmentally practices in conventional, organic, and biodynamic winemaking. We also investigated trade relations with the United States. Upon touring wineries, we learned about their environmental practices, how much easier it is to be environmentally conscious the smaller you are, and how the market for organic wine is expanding globally. In terms of trade, they really have not seen any effects, but they are so dependent on exports, a tariff would be detrimental. Some advice: make sure to have the fixers ahead of time if you are making a film. It worked out for us, but things can easily go wrong. Always have backups, and meticulously do your research ahead of time on your subjects and topics. It makes the interviews much more fluid. This was incredibly rewarding and I suggest ever MIIS student to try and follow a passion into the field. You only learn by doing.

Click here to view a video of Carlos and Ben’s work on environmental wine in Argentina. 

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Christina Lee, IEM/MPA ’18

Christina Lee with her coworkers at Intercultural Communication Institute in Portland, OR.


For my practicum, I have traveled to Portland, Oregon to work with a non-profit organization called the Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI). This organization focuses on helping people learn how to work across cultural difference by providing the tools, and knowledge to help participants build skills necessary for them to effectively work in multicultural teams. The overall goal is to prepare participants to become positive role models and leaders within in their organization when working with people from a different demographic group.

The ICI provides workshop and other training to help people better understand how having people that are different within the organization could lead to more creative solutions to problems. This environment could be cultivated by the leaders, and team members if they are willing to do the work to learn and understand their fellow teammates. The ICI also conducts intercultural assessments, which is a tool that can help gauge where a team is at when it comes to working with cultural differences and debriefs them with the team members. After if the team decides that they want team building tools then that is something that can be provided to that team. 

During this experience, I learned about my own biases and prejudices but more importantly, I learned of some tools that would help me to grow from my faults and how to reformulate how I think and perceive people.

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