Come August, recent graduate Amara Uyanna (MGPS) will leave Austin and move more than 8,000 miles away to Doha, Qatar where she will begin life as a program manager with Al Jazeera.
"My Crook Fellowship led to my job with Al Jazeera," Uyanna said.
During the summer of 2017, Uyanna was a recipient of the LBJ School's Crook Fellowship, which supports students doing summer internships for nonprofit, nongovernmental or governmental organizations that conduct development projects in the developing world. She interned with the nonprofit Sustainability International in Nigeria, where she coordinated bioremediation efforts in the Niger Delta. Read more about Uyanna's fellowship.
"In our attempt to clean up five decades of oil pollution, we realized the importance of also creating awareness around the environmental conditions in the region," Uyanna explained. "To do the latter, we secured a contract with Contrast VR, Al Jazeera's immersive media arm, to produce a virtual reality documentary."
The documentary which was released in January 2018, had more than one and a half million views in its first week, and was subsequently nominated to receive the One World Media awards.
"It was gratifying yet humbling to be part of a project of such magnitude and impact, and I'm grateful that the Crook Fellowship helped to make that happen. It was a great opportunity which eventually led to my full time job with Al Jazeera." —Amara Uyanna
When the project concluded, Uyanna said a colleague from Al Jazeera expressed interest in working together again.
"I laughed it off," she said. "I thought she was kidding. A few months later, she reached out to me about an opportunity for which she thought I'd be a perfect fit. I was interested so she referred me appropriately."
After a series of interviews, Uyanna got the job.
"I am excited to begin my career with Al Jazeera," she said. "My team is awesome; the switch to such a tech intensive role is a very welcome challenge; and the global nature of my job will undoubtedly add so many new skills to my already loaded skillset."
Uyanna affirmed that her background in engineering and her coursework plus cumulative experiences at the LBJ School were essential in preparing her for her new career path.
"Initially I applied to LBJ with the intention of pursuing a dual degree with petroleum engineering because I felt that there needed to be more policymakers who understood engineering as much as they understood society so as to more effectively bridge both fields," Uyanna said. "I want to continually serve as a bridge between science and people’s needs in order to create systems that are people-centered, efficient and sustainable."
"It forced me to come face to face with myself and the intersections of my realities — being a woman, being international, coming from an engineering background and being black. I think that helped prepare me in different ways for the real world and through it all, I think I'd say I came out swinging." —Amara Uyanna
About her time at the school, Uyanna said, "It forced me to come face to face with myself and the intersections of my realities — being a woman, being international, coming from an engineering background and being black. The totality of my LBJ experience helped prepare me in unique ways for the real world and through it all, I think I'd say I came out swinging."