SIT was the right place at the right time

October 6th, 2017   |   SIT Graduate Institute

Kelly Wisecarver
Information Management and Reports Manager
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance Cadre
MA, Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management, 2014

I grew up living in between the United States and various countries in Africa. My father worked for USAID and Peace Corps, and for most of my life I had thought that I wanted to work in foreign service – it was all that I knew. SIT seemed like the best fit for that, but it ended up flipping me in the most surprising way: I emerged with a drive to serve domestically.

I came to SIT at a time when I needed to do some soul searching about my career path. I had been back in the United States from my Peace Corps service for a few years working odd jobs in southwest Virginia. I was ready to advance my education and start on a new, fresh path. I chose the ISLM program because I wanted the freedom to take the courses that would allow me to hone my soft skills and introduce me to new hard skills. In addition to educational reflection through papers and projects, I found that my SIT experience gave me the opportunity for self-care and self-reflection. From the moment I arrived I made marvelous new friends, many valuable connections, and gathered some of the tools I needed to be a more responsible practitioner and citizen of the world.

Thanks to SIT’s incredible professors, the teachings and coursework, my classmates’ presentations and conversations, and the series of events that SIT paved the way for, I became a very different person with different goals and ideas. During one of my courses, we were doing case studies on local organizations and a classmate – knowing I had an interest in disaster relief – suggested I contact the local Red Cross. After volunteering with that organization, I chose a practicum in New Orleans working on long-term recovery, which led to a job with the Red Cross back in Vermont. When I co-organized a Washington, D.C. career fair during my second semester, SIT put me in touch with an alum who works for FEMA. I work for FEMA now, traveling the United States and U.S. Territories, working with and for disaster survivors and still using many of the lessons and skills I gained from my ISLM master’s degree.

I have SIT and the ISLM program to thank for my current success. It has opened more doors than I could have ever imagined. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t deeply affected by their experience at SIT.