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2013 Crook Fellows Announced

May 15, 2013 |

The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law has announced the winners of the 2013 William H. Crook Fellowship awards. Now in its sixth year, the Crook Fellowship program provides summer fellowships to students working for nonprofit organizations in developing countries. Since 2008, it has enabled forty-three students to work on development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

The fellowships are sponsored by the Strauss Center’s William H. Crook Program, which is dedicated to promoting global economic development and fighting poverty. The program is made possible by a generous gift from Mrs. Eleanor Crook in honor of her late husband. William H. Crook was a prominent public figure in Texas politics and a pioneer in global development.

The 2013 Crook Fellowships have been awarded to the following seven students:

Muhammad Bilal Bawany will be working with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Ghana on the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI) . His internship will involve monitoring and evaluating the quality of education in Ghana by providing teachers in P1-P3 with assistants who will be in charge of teaching the basic skills to the lowest performing students. He will be conducting field visits to project sites, monitoring progress, analyzing data, and conducting methodology training. While in Ghana, he will also join fellow Crook awardee Helen Gradstein in volunteering with Exponential Education.

Helen Gradstein will be interning with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) as well, working on the Graduation from Ultra Poverty (GUP) project in Tamale, Ghana. Her work will focus on monitoring field evaluation procedures of GUP’s work through analyzing surveys and back-checking data. In addition to her work with IPA, Helen will also be volunteering for Exponential Education, an education-nonprofit she helped to found. Her work with Exponential Education this summer will focus on expanding the program, including a new initiative partnering with Peace Corp volunteers.

Rahima Housaini will be spending her summer in Kabul, Afghanistan interning with the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization focusing on encouraging political participation and economic independence for Afghani women. Rahima will be working specifically on the Elimination of Violence against Women project, monitoring and conducting an evaluation of the project and writing progress reports to donors.

Jesse Libra will be working for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Lusaka, Zambia, working on a Gender and Agriculture project. She will be traveling throughout the country, meeting with focus groups in an effort to examine the effects of conservation agriculture on the distribution of labor between genders. Jesse will also conduct data analysis and host training seminars.

David Petit will be interning at the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), headquartered in Ramallah, West Bank, Palestinian territories. David will be developing metrics to assess the effectiveness of PHG’s programs relating to agriculture and food security, focusing on improvements to wells and irrigation planning. He will also be researching water use patterns in the West Bank.

Sarah Marie Pruitt will be spending her summer interning with Light in Brazil in both Belem and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sarah will be working on establishing partnerships with local artists and organizations in an effort to strengthen Light in Brazil’s cultural development programs. She will also be conducting in-field interviews to assess the efficacy and reach of existing programs.

Kelly Steffen will be interning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a part of USAID Ethiopia’s Economic Growth Team. She will be working with a USAID contractor on building capacity for agriculture and food security projects. Kelly will travel to villages throughout the country, meeting with locals and conducting interviews to determine program eligibility. She will also conduct workshops focusing on targeting rural women as food producers and managers of household nutrition.

The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law is a nonpartisan research center at The University of Texas at Austin dedicated to promoting policy-relevant scholarship on the problems and opportunities created by our increasingly globalized and interconnected world. For more information on the Strauss Center, please visit