#IncomingElliott: Yovela Debesay

#IncomingElliott: Yovela Debesay

Yovela Debesay proudly wearing an Elliott School shirt, Yovela Debesay, M.A. International Development Studies, 2024, #IncomingElliott

Yovela Debesay is a recent graduate from the preeminent University of South Florida. She earned concurrent degrees in Economics and International Studies with a minor in Public Service and Leadership. She was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, but her family is originally from Eritrea. Her involvement in leadership roles during her time at USF included various student organizations, such as the Deans Student Leadership Society, the African Students Association, the United Nations Association, the Student Alumni Association, and Student Government.  

Outside of campus, she was able to serve as a fellow for the United Nations Association, and intern with both the Operation Global Action Program under the Global Citizens Project at her undergraduate institution, and the U.S. Department of State through the VSFS (Virtual Student Federal Service) Program. She will be working towards earning her Masters in International Development Studies starting in the fall, in hopes of ultimately working with the U.S. Department of State. She hopes to utilize this position to not only strengthen U.S./ East African relations, but to also further economic development in the East African region.

What has been your most rewarding academic or professional experience so far?

One of the most rewarding experiences I have had thus far was serving as the Director of University Affairs at the University of South Florida during my final year of undergrad. In this position, I was able to demonstrate true servant leadership through advising fellow student leaders on matters pertaining to the academics, sustainability, and safety of the Student Body, as well as cultivating relationships with University Departments, University Administrators, Athletics, local businesses, and USF Alumni. I was able to strengthen both my personal and professional development, while serving my community.

What are you looking forward to about living in the DMV?

Coming from the suburbs of Tampa, Florida, I am very excited to be moving to a city with so much life and diversity. To be relocating to America’s epicenter for diplomacy, I am truly elated to be exposed to a plethora of opportunities through the great varieties of organizations, agencies, and think tanks. The wide range of historical sites and museums is especially appealing for a history buff like myself as well.

Is your grad program related to your undergrad degree? If so, how?

I graduated with concurrent degrees in Economics and International Studies, so pursuing my master’s in International Development Studies at the Elliott School provides for the perfect way to apply both of my degrees in showing the intersectionality of economic development and international diplomacy. My minor in Public Service and Leadership allowed me to further learn and develop my servant leadership skills and will prepare for the application of the importance of public service in the field of diplomacy.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program?

I ultimately decided to commit to the Elliot School due to the unique network of connections and opportunities tied to the program through their alumni. I was particularly drawn to the ability to interact with other like-minded individuals just as passionate about the field of economics and international development as myself.

Further, the program’s commitment to studying key practical applications of today’s economic, social, political, and cultural issues in the global arena serves as providing the perfect educational foundation for a career in international development.

What is your favorite country that you have visited and why?

My favorite country I have visited is my family’s home country of Eritrea, located in East Africa. While there, I was not only able to have a great time sightseeing, visiting family members, and learning more about the culture, but I was provided the unique opportunity to intern at the Ministry of Information.

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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.