Nitika Sethi – Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM)

GRAAM workers in the field
Preparing the District Human Development Report

Ms. Nitika Sethi is a dual-degree student studying International Relations and Public Administration.

I spent 11 weeks in Mysore, India working for the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM). GRAAM is a policy initiative of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) nonprofit organization. The GRAAM team works to develop research and advocacy agendas to influence all levels of policy in response to the widespread grassroots efforts of SVYM in public health, education, governance, and rural development.

As an intern, I worked on three projects in education research and advocacy, which gave me a comprehensive view of the office and allowed me to build a litany of skills. I conducted quantitative analysis for the Education and Literacy chapters of two District Human Development Reports (DHDR) for the State of Karnataka. This project exposed me to the challenges of data collection and validation with local government offices as well as the challenges of fulfilling state government parameters and expectations. I also wrote and designed the methodology for a Small Area Study in Kolar district, which assessed factors contributing to test performance in the district’s secondary schools. The study required me to spend extensive time in schools conducting interviews with students and educators.Finally, I was responsible for evaluating the impact of the Education Leadership Management project, designed to provide primary school administrators with leadership training to improve the quality of local education. This task involved analysis of high level program design and the efficacy of a public-private partnership.

Collectively, my work at GRAAM cultivated my technical writing ability, statistical skills, and instilled me with a more intimate understanding of public organizations. I was also able to spend a considerable amount of time with the communities SVYM serves as I traveled to the field at least once a week. I feel GRAAM worked hard to create a positive internship experience by defining my job description prior to arrival and staying accountable to it. Furthermore, GRAAM provided me with a supervisor and a mentor to support the coordination of my activities. Following my graduation from the Maxwell school, I intend to work in international development program implementation and evaluation. My experience at GRAAM deepened my understanding of the relationship between grassroots work and policy reform; it will serve as valuable insight and skill-building for my career trajectory.