Seton Hall alumni take pride in the accomplishments of their peers, and alumni of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are no exception. This past May, Diplomacy alumni started a new annual tradition by honoring two of their own during the School's Alumni Signature Event. This year's award recognizes Christina Perelli, M.A. '07 and David McCoy, M.A. '07 for significant achievements in the diplomacy and international relations field, and for contributing to community and civic affairs through their founding of and work with Aya Worldwide.
After their graduation from the School's master's degree program, Perelli and McCoy each worked for a variety of companies and organizations further enhancing their skillsets, developing relationships in the field and zeroing in on their interests. Starting off in the corporate sector, Perelli changed course ten years ago and began working with non-profit organizations such as the United Way for New York City, Hands Inc., and Bridge Inc. and McCoy worked for humanitarian organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Food Bank of New York City, among others. In 2010, they decided to integrate their backgrounds and passions into a collaborative project that would express their common devotion to continued learning and serving others. Aya Worldwide, an ever-growing grassroots organization that seeks to eradicate poverty through data-based community solutions, was born.
Operating under its own specialized philosophy, Aya Worldwide that while individuals may be poor that is not all they are. Who a person is and where they come from should not be the sole determinant of what they are able to achieve.. By harnessing the unique strengths and challenges of each community. Aya Worldwide addresses the root causes of poverty. They evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a community within seven identifiable conditions: education, health, infrastructure, food and nutrition, governance, arts and culture, and economic opportunity. Each condition is necessary for the survival of a community, and success in all of them will allow a community to thrive. The organization's two main projects in Ghana focus on the small communities of Adaklu Sikama and Klave.
Adaklu Sikama is a perfect example of the Aya Worldwide ethic and philosophy in action. A village of approximately 450 people, this community has been crippled by the cycle of poverty for years due to poor education systems, limited healthcare resources, and a nearly extinct economy. To begin combatting these factors, Aya Worldwide conducted a needs assessment that brought together local and government leaders from all levels of society in order to accurately gage the needs of the community. These meetings, in addition to data collection, provided the organization with sufficient information to create a long-term plan to improve 450 lives. Now, after successfully addressing the healthcare issue through education, registration for services, and distribution of medical supplies, the organization is looking to turn its focus to education specifically, creating a community library and resource center to increase the level of literacy in Adaklu Sikama. This process of responding to the individual needs of a community in a way that is problem driven, adaptive, and locally led: is the hallmark of Aya Worldwide, demonstrates the manner in which Seton Hall Diplomacy alumni consistently apply the skills and knowledge they gained throughout their educational experience to positively impact the world.
The work of Aya Worldwide is so impressive that Perelli and McCoy's fellow alumni, a group of notable practitioners, researchers, experts and leaders throughout the field of international relations, were inspired to honor them with the first Alumni Signature Event award. Recipients of this award will be selected each year from nominations submitted by the School of Diplomacy and International Relations faculty and alumni, and will be distinguished by one or more of the following: holding a position of responsibility and leadership and/or accomplishing significant achievements in the diplomacy and international relations field, contributing to community and civic affairs, or contributing to either the support or prestige of the University.
For more information on Aya Worldwide, please click here »
Categories: Nation and World