Our Students

Alumni Spotlight

Many graduates of the ESDR/RESD program have provided comments about the program and information about where their degree has taken them. Please take a look at where our graduates are now.

Josh McCabe

Josh McCabe was born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts. After earning his BA in Political Science, he was interested in economic issues but found the heavy emphasis on math techniques in graduate economics programs to be off-putting. He found that RESD offered the same insight into social and economic issues with a real world orientation. As a RESD student, he completed research on issues of race and labor as well as the urban economy. RESD has served as a great stepping stone for Josh’s academic career. He is now a PhD candidate in sociology at SUNY Albany.

Kathryn Hackett

Kathryn Hackett is from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. She finished her undergraduate degree in International Affairs and Political Science with minors in Economics and German at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. She found the RESD program as a way to achieve her long term goal of someday helping those living in poverty abroad. Still holding this in her long term objectives, she has grown attached to environmental concerns. Her RESD capstone project involved work on water quality initiatives with the Merrimack River Watershed Council. A recent RESD graduate, Kathryn was also very involved with the RESD club.

Lei Zhao

Like many international students, Lei Zhao came to UMass Lowell from half a world away: Beijing, China. She has a bachelor’s degree in Financial Management and came to America after 2 years working in Human Resources and Accounting. Lei came to RESD for its diversified curriculum, which integrates not only economics and sociology, but also public policy and history. She has found her stay in RESD to be a “joyful experience, from the stimulating small classes to abundant student activities. Most importantly, RESD has mitigated to a large degree the culture shock. The environment is comfortable and welcoming, the faculty has an amazing passion for teaching, and the students are friendly and inspirational.” Lei has decided to join the workforce after graduation and apply what she has learned from this program in a profound way.

Tim Harrigan

Tim Harrigan is a native of New England. He has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and came to RESD after working in nonprofit fundraising and commercial real estate. Tim was attracted to RESD because of the program's proactive approach to societal problems. He also liked that the program's breadth offers an opportunity to explore a range of career options. He credits RESD with giving him the opportunity to reconsider his long-term goals. Tim undertook a capstone project in community development and municipal planning at the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. Having recently completed his studies, Tim is now working on a grant writing project with a nonprofit organization that advocates for sustainable development.

Matt Hopkins

Matt Hopkins is from Manchester, Maine. Prior to RESD he was a student at the University of Southern Maine and worked in Portland for a few years. At the urging of some of his favorite faculty members, he chose RESD for its winning combination of interesting, progressive faculty members, and sort of low price! He lacks any plans for the future at this time, but is interested in continuing his education or in engaging in different kinds of social-economic research. RESD has proven to be a great mixture of different minds that inspire creativity in thinking individuals that care about the calling to be educated as opposed to the desire to stay clearly within the bounds of existing academic doctrines. In other words, you can think outside the box here.

Tanner Osman

I graduated from RESD in 2005. During the course of my studies there I was exposed to professors undertaking a great variety of interesting research, which engendered in me a desire to undertake doctoral studies. I am now a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA, where the breadth and depth of my studies at RESD serve me very well.

Isa B. Cann    

Isa CannRESD's M.A. graduate Isa B. Cann has ventured to help create awareness around the multi-faceted topic of sustainable development (SD) within the Northeastern MA community through her WUML radio news segment, "The Long View". It was broadcast on Thursday mornings just after 10 am during the "Thinking Out Loud" program. Isa's paying gigs are general communication services (i.e., website and marketing collateral design, PR, etc.) dedicated to businesses and other organizations whose focus is sustainability. Green Building and Renewable Energy are of particular interest. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Energy Committee in Salisbury, MA. They are hopeful to install a large wind turbine in the next year or two. Please visit www.MediaArchitects.org for more information about Isa's for profit and volunteer projects.

Kelley (Argie) Hobbs

I have no doubt that my RESD degree has led me to where I am now! As the Executive Director of a nonprofit, I can say the RESD program offers comprehensive classes that truly prepare people for employment in a variety of sectors.  Classes are small, students are great and the professors are dedicated to your success and are supportive all along the way. 

José Luis Álvarez Galván

Alvarez-GalvanAfter finishing a BA degree in Economics in the University of Mexico (UNAM) and working for several years for two small consultancy firms, I wanted to start a post-graduate program in regional development. While looking for advice, a very distinguished visiting scholar from the United States expressed a fantastic opinion about RESD during an informal conversation.

Eventually, I did my MA degree in RESD and it was a wonderful experience for me. It opened my mind to new routes of thinking and I was introduced to a lot of interesting people. Staff and students contribute to the program’s unique atmosphere allowing people to explore topics of regional development, while opportunities to engage in real practice research, public planning and community organizing arise almost everywhere. Now, I am doing a PhD in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, but I never forget how my experience in RESD helped me to initiate my international experience.

Stacie Hargis 

Stacie Hargis is Economic Development Representative for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas where she focuses on economic development, small business, grants, housing, the creative economy, and women's issues.

Stacie serves on the boards of various groups, including UMass Lowell's Center for Women and Work, Massachusetts National Organization for Women and the Cultural Organization of Lowell promoting both women's issues and the creative economy. Stacie received a master's in Regional Economic and Social Development from University of Massachusetts Lowell in May 2008. Her additional educational experiences include a Bachelor of Fine Art from Florida Atlantic University and a Graduate Certificate from the University of Massachusetts Boston focusing on Women in Politics and Public Policy.

Mary Suttie Sorensen 

I graduated from RESD in 2007. Since shortly after graduation, I have been the Director of the Manchester, NH Center for Ombudsman Educational Services.  It is a technology driven alternative high school for at-risk students.  Our attendance and retention rates are setting benchmarks for the city.  With my RESD education, I have brought a whole new management model to the program.  We have partnered with organizations to get our students involved in the community, developed a team atmosphere within the center, and use student data to formulate plans for continuous improvement.  The program is truly a quality experience for all those involved, and I couldn't have achieved such wonderful growth and feedback without the philosophies and techniques of RESD.

Shiri M. Breznitz 

SjoroShiri M. Breznitz's is an assistant professor at the school of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on regional economic development. Her main interest is the role of universities in economic development, technology transfer and commercialization. Dr. Breznitz intensively studies the biotechnology industry. Her current work examines and compares Israeli and Finish biotechnology clusters to evaluate the recent phenomenon of cluster specialization. Dr. Breznitz is affiliated with the MIT's Industrial Performance Center where she has been involved in both the Globalization and the Local Innovation Systems projects.

Dr. Breznitz joined the School of Public Policy after completing her Ph.D. in Economic Geography at the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation compared technology transfer and economic development at the University of Cambridge, UK and Yale University, US, and their influence on the development of the local biotechnology clusters. This project resulted in three articles in referred journals and a book manuscript with Stanford University Press.

Elisabeth "NOPHIE" Dewi

Since 2006, I (and my family:husband and son) moved to Australia (Melbourne) in order to continue my study in Victoria University, Melbourne. I received a full scholarship from the AusAID to do my PhD in Women's Studies. While I am writing a thesis on a female domestic workers' issue from Indonesia, I also working part time in Plan Australia, IWDA (International Women Development Agency) and Victoria University. Not enough with those activities, I am also having another baby in April 2008. Hopefully by the early 2010, I will submit my thesis and go back to Indonesia to fulfill some of my 'dreams' that I brought from Lowell at 2003.

Don Leonard

I am a PhD student in the Government department at Cornell University. I work on questions of state formation and political development, putting my RESD degree to work helping me understand the interaction between international forces and public goods provision in Latin America.

Susan Dempsey

While studying in the RESD department, I had the opportunity to work closely with faculty and students on a wide range of projects. Since RESD is an interdisciplinary program, the research projects are quite diverse and therefore provide students an opportunity to work on a project that meets their interests and goals.  Prior to attending RESD, I approached social issues from a strictly political science background, however now I am aware that social policy cannot be addressed without considering the economics and history of the issue.  This has helped me enormously in my position as an analyst for the state government.  RESD has given me a solid foundation in which to build a career in public service.

Cathy Ferreira

Two years after graduating with a Bachelors degree in Community Planning I came across a brochure describing the graduate program in the department of Regional Economics and Social Development at UMass Lowell. I was immediately drawn to it because of the inter-discipline, action orientated, approach to development. As a community activist on issues of poverty and homelessness I believe that social ills in society will not be eradicated if we continue to ignore the social aspects of economic development. So I applied. 

I enrolled as a full-time student in the fall of 1999. I also have a Research Assistant position in the department. On top of that I'm raising four children on my own. Believe me it has been trying. Sometimes when I'm going crazy juggling school, work, and my family, I feel like throwing in the towel. I turn to faculty and students for support when I feel this way. I think about how much I am learning and how much I like all the interesting class projects that I have worked on. Above all I try to remember it's only a couple of years. I can do it I made it this far. When everything is said and done I'll have a wide range of career possibilities to continue my work on improving and developing communities. 

Jennifer Gaudet

I received my BLA from UMass Lowell in 1998, focusing in Sociology and Psychology. After graduation I worked for a national, political, non-profit, The Green Party, out of Lawrence, MA. I also worked part-time for another non-profit, Lawrence Grassroots Initiative, which worked on environmental and social justice issues.

I decided to go back to school for my Masters to further my knowledge in community development. I chose to apply to RESD mainly because they approach economic and social development from multiple angles, which I consider necessary to understanding issues and working for change. Having taken several classes in the department as an undergraduate, I was also impressed with the dedication and approachability of the faculty. For me, it was a perfect fit.

Joe Meagher

My experience here at RESD has been very rewarding both personally and academically.  A key factor in that experience has been the strong relationship between faculty and the students.  The faculty has been very supportive and responsive to student needs and concerns.  I think the faculty has gone out of their way to create a comfortable, non-competitive environment that is conducive to graduate education. 

Xiaodong Pu

I'm an international student in RESD at UMass Lowell. I came from China. I got my BA and MA degree from Zhongshan University in China. After graduation, I worked full-time as a teacher and administrator in Zhongshan University. Meanwhile, I also was a part-time social activist, advertiser and businessman. I have been very interested in social and economic issues both in China and the world. I'm also very interested in information technology.

I like RESD because the campus is ethnically diverse; the courses are usually interesting and interdisciplinary; the research projects are exciting; the classmates are very friendly and knowledgeable. More importantly, the professors in RESD not only are elites in their teaching and research field, but also very enthusiastic to help the students. Even though I'm a foreigner, I still feel like I'm around with old friends. After about one year in RESD, I find I like it more.

I plan to pursue an advanced degree in a related field after graduation from RESD.

Erin Sheehan

Erin Sheehan is in the BA/MA program. Her project "Socio-Economic Analysis of the Republic of Burundi" was selected for the Fourth Annual Student Research Symposium held April 26, 2001 at UMass Lowell. Her project was also chosen for display at the Seventh Annual Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarly, Creative, and Public Service Activities held April 27, 2001 in Sturbridge, MA for the entire University of Massachusetts system. Erin was also awarded a grant from the Honors Professional Development Grant Committee at UMass Lowell. It will provided partial funding for her research trip to Cambodia.

Carlha Vickers  

I graduated in September 2002 after attending on a part-time basis, and am currently working at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study on a project funded by the Ford Foundation.  This project looks at community based organizations (CBOs) who run temporary staffing agencies; a recently new phenomenon.  The original assignment was half-time for three months and was then extended to six months.  Upon completion of my degree I was asked if I would like to stay until the completion of the project in June 2003.   The opportunity to join the team came about through networking that the RESD professors do for the students. 

The purpose of the study is to see what qualitative and quantitative difference these agencies make to peoples lives over the traditional staffing agencies.  Do they offer higher wages? Better types of jobs? Career progression?  The first part of the project entailed locating the agencies, interviewing them via telephone, and writing a detailed analysis on each of the interviews -  a more comprehensive analysis looking at how they compared to other like agencies and factoring in demographic data that I had collected.  We then selected nine of the 29 organizations interviewed to visit so that we could get a first-hand look at what they do and how they do it.  The visits to the organizations started in October 2002 and were completed at the end of January 2003.  Two researchers went on each site visit, one experienced interviewer and one less so.  Focus groups were held involving 7-10 workers for each organization visited to obtain their point of view.  At the end of June 2003 we give the Ford Foundation our report. 

The first site visit that I did was to Chrysalis in LA which is located in skid row.  It is one of the largest organizations of its type and was an extremely positive experience. The team consisted of the principal investigator; Francoise Carre, Dorie Seavey, a consultant in the field of labor studies; Joaquin Herranz, a doctoral candidate at MIT's urban studies program, and myself.

In conjunction with this position I started working as a researcher at the National Alliance for Fair Employment (NAFFE) in late September 2002.  NAFFE is a network of grassroots organizations, labor unions, advocates, and academics.  In particular they focus on the problems associated with nonstandard work, such as part-time, temporary and contract employment which is part of the broader fight to ensure that working people have the right and opportunity to provide for themselves, their families and their communities. 

My position here is very complementary to my position in Radcliffe.  My primary role is to spearhead the hiring hall research project that involves generating a comprehensive list of day hiring centers, and mapping these centers using GIS using some hypothetic testing of the relationships of the hiring halls to economic patterns.  This is part of an ongoing NAFFE project that is dealing with workers centers and the strategic issues they confront. 

Karen Zerby

I have an undergraduate degree from Hampshire College where I studied issues of race, gender, and class in the United States. I spent four years in Mexico and was involved in both rural and urban community development projects. Most recently, I have been working as a Community Organizer for a small Community Based Organization that is promoting economic development and neighborhood revitalization in Dorchester.

Through my work I have gained a greater understanding of the complicated issues surrounding development, motivating me to seek the relevant knowledge and skills I need to continue in this area of social change. I was drawn to the RESD program, in particular, because of its interdisciplinary and progressive approach to looking at communities and economic development. Taking one course before becoming a full-time student, I was impressed with the knowledge and commitment of both the students and faculty. Through this degree, I am looking forward to acquiring the tools I need to be more effective in my work.