Kelly Goodman

SFIS MSTP alumna

“Downtime” is a word that may not be in Kelly Goodman’s vocabulary. For many, graduate school, alone, requires the time and effort of a full time job — if not more. For Goodman, it would probably feel like a vacation.

An MSTP student, Goodman was taking 18 credits, working as a teacher’s assistant, bartending nights, interning for SciStarter (a Citizen Science initiative founded by SFIS’ Professor of Practice Darlene Cavalier), and playing on a wheelchair basketball team — something she began when she was recovering from the five surgeries she’s had on her knee. In the spring she traveled to India for the third annual Water and International Development conference. At the end of the semester she was off again, this time to South Africa for a USAID fellowship. Oh, and she squeezed in her wedding, which she’d been planning throughout the semester before she left.

The South African fellowship has based her in Pretoria, but she is on the move often, assessing available groundwater as far afield as Botswana and looking at how water issues are perpetuated — or even generated — by political systems. “With South Africa, you had apartheid issues — racial tension, discrimination, marginalization of a lot of different groups,” she said. “They have the potential to be on that developed side of things but they are not. In some places you still have people trekking miles just to get a bucket of water for their daily use.” On the way they are often exposed to extreme danger, even rape. “Of course, I don’t want to see this, but I do want to understand it.”

The fellowship in Africa did not drop in her lap. Goodman was actively seeking opportunities that involved travel and humanitarian work, such as Peace Corps or the Department of Defense when she found the fully funded USAID project. Now she hopes the fellowship will lead into something more permanent, as she’ll only be back in the states for two months before moving to South Africa to be with her husband, who coaches track in Durbin.

Goodman values her experiences and the connections she has made as part of the MSTP program. “They really let you tailor it to your interests,” she says. “There are only three core classes. The fact that you essentially choose everything else has really allowed me to focus on the areas I am most interested in.” She also appreciated the academic community at SFIS. “Andra Williams, my advisor, is a huge help in networking for us and also helping us find classes we’d be interested in, and I always find Professor Mary Jane Parmentier’s insights to be helpful and unbiased.” Those commendations extended to her fellow students. “They are all very active and encouraging.”