Peace Corps to Princeton: Grassroots Experience and the Graduate Student - Jeremy Taglieri
Jeremey Taglieri MPA '17 also found himself in the Peace Corps after becoming disaffected with the institutionalized nature of academia. As a political science undergraduate, Taglieri enjoyed his studies, but was tired of what seemed to be "all talk" and "no action."
I grew dissatisfied with the fact that we spent all this time talking about the world's problems but not actually doing (anything about" them," he said. After getting involved with public service his junior year of college and then spending a year with AmeriCorps, Taglieri joined the Peace Corps, hoping to broaden his world views.
Peace Corps volunteers do not select their own destinations, and Taglieri didn't initially envision spending two years in Moldova, a landlocked country bordering Romania and Ukraine that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Taglieri will never know for sure, but he suspects that he was placed there because he took Russian classes in high school. However, his Russian skills had become quite weak by the time he arrived in Moldova. Still, after his time there as a community organization volunteer, not only did Taglieri's Russian language skills improve, but he found himself seeking a career in post-Soviet state development.
While in Moldova, Taglieri worked in the aid and development of hospice organizations, attempting to extend funding and create sustainable programs. After the Peace Corps, he spent two years in Washington, D.C., as a program coordinator for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the largest nonprofit organization in the United States representing hospice and palliative care. While there, the organization developed hospices in sub-Saharan Africa, cementing Taglieri's interest in global health.
While working in both Moldova and D.C., he learned about different master’s degrees in public affairs and public policy. At the time, Taglieri had planned to enter law school, but the public affairs and public policy programs offered the direct policy knowledge needed to effect global change. The Wilson School particularly stood out as being both practical and consistent with Taglieri’s interest in the post-Soviet world.
“I wanted to continue studying international development, particularly in post-Soviet states,” Taglieri said. “I also really wanted to keep working on my Russian. The Woodrow Wilson School is one of the only schools that allowed me to do that.”
The extensive internship programs also attracted Taglieri to the Wilson School. He spent the summer of 2015 in Kurdistan, Iraq, as a UNICEF intern, where he was able to work at a fairly high management level. These combined Wilson School and Peace Corps experiences make Taglieri confident he will one day be able to direct a program aiding in post-Soviet global health, his ultimate career goal.
“I’m trying to be a practitioner,” he said. “I want to be running the programs. I want to be actively helping people and not just thinking about more academic solutions.”
Taglieri hopes to use both his degree and Peace Corps knowledge to offer balanced ideas about aid in the developing world.
“When you’re working at the level of a Peace Corps volunteer, you’re in the field, and you are on the ground with beneficiaries,” Taglieri said. “It’s very, very hard to understand what is going on several levels above you—how does the money get divided up from international development organizations? What are the priorities? And how do you talk to donors? Coming to Princeton, talking to the professors who have lots of experience and completing an internship where you go work for a summer with UNICEF, gave me that perspective of what goes on at those higher donor levels and where the community is in terms of its priorities.”