Spring 2008 issue of Terry Magazine - (Page 44)
by blake Hannon pHoto by UGa pHotoGrapHy Terry’s new Rhodes Scholar KaTe VyboRny (AB ’05) works for a “think and do tank” in Washington, where she’s trying to improve conditions in poor countries through detailed analysis of how aid from rich countries affects development he junior staff of the Center for Global Development has gathered in a small conference room in their Dupont Circle offices not far from the White House. This weekly meeting will be led by CGD Vice President Dennis de Tray, but the scene is casual. Half the staff fits at the conference table, others sit atop desks and portable heaters, and the mood is initially lighthearted, though poverty and world hunger are constant agenda items at CGD, which prides itself on being a “think and do tank.” But first, announcements are made — among them, the “undisclosed location” is revealed for the upcoming “State of the Union Bingo Night” where staff members will gather to watch the president’s annual address to Congress with makeshift game cards in their laps. Instead of numbers, their bingo cards will contain phrases relevant to global development. Getting down to business, recent Terry College grad Kate Vyborny (AB ’05) briefs the staff on a new project she’s been conceptualizing with CGD President Nancy Birdsall. “Essentially,” says Vyborny, “it’s a scorecard that will give rich countries a numerical grade based on the effectiveness of their foreign aid to poor countries.” She passes out a list of indicators — a rubric for money well spent on foreign aid — and the group quickly enters into a debate about how best to measure the quality of spending. Vyborny had no idea when she enrolled at UGA as a Foundation Fellow that she would one day devote her life to development. Had no clue that shortly after graduation she would be working to improve economic conditions in countries in dire circumstances due to hunger and disease. Never would have imagined that in November 2007 she would be named a Rhodes Scholar, and given the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in the economics of development at Oxford. 44 • Spring 2008 economic scorekeeper It was in Vyborny’s first semester human geography class that UGA professor Kavita Pandit kindled her interest in development. Vyborny knew instantly she had found her calling. “There’s a big jump between understanding what people can do as charity and realizing that larger public policy issues affect how countries develop and how that process affects the poor,” she says. “U.S. trade, immigration, and environmental policies affect the lives of millions of poor people, and we can do a lot to improve that. What could be more important?” Previously intending to major in math and political science, Vyborny switched her focus to economics and international affairs. Terry economics professor David Mustard recalls what a dynamic force Vyborny was in class. “She was totally engaged,” says Mustard, “and it hasn’t ended with her graduation. She stays in contact with me. She asks me questions, sends me articles and wants to discuss them. She is interested in complicated academic issues, but she’s also concerned about policy matters and how they impact people.” Vyborny took an Honors section of Mustard’s “Economics of Education” (4250H) course, which he described in a Rhodes Scholar recommendation letter for her as the “most amazing class I’ve ever taught . . . of the 16 Honors students in that class, six were Foundation Fellows and others had top university scholarships. This group includes people who are currently at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, and in Ph.D. programs at Duke, the University of Texas, and the University of North Carolina.” “Even in that class, Kate stood out,” says Mustard. But then, that’s not surprising since Vyborny posted a perfect 4.0 GPA at UGA. Vyborny knew she wanted to further her education after graduation, but sought some real-world experience before deciding what skill set she would need for her career. Following graduation, she was one of seven students in the nation to receive a one-year fellowTerry College of BuSineSS
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